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Tuesday, April 11, 2017
J is for Jewish Genealogy
There are some surnames in my ancestorial lineage that suggest they were Jewish who "converted". Most likely it was a forced conversion, due to the times and where they made their home. My maternal lineage was Catholics on one side and either Lutheran or Quakers or Dunkards on the other. It is from the Catholic side, that the Jewish surnames are prevalent.
According to Judaism 101 - searching for your Jewish ancestors is not as hard as you may have always thought. Granted, it isn't easy either. I'm thinking, African-American genealogy is probably more difficult. Many believe that the Nazi's destroyed all the Jewish records but according to this website, the Nazi's did not destroy records. Quite the contrary, they carefully preserved synagogue records of births, deaths, and marriages back to the 1840s... so they could identify Jews for extermination.
Currently, I am searching for a "cousin" that was born on April 19, 1897, in Gailbach, Germany. He arrived at the Dachau Concentration camp on Sept 16, 1937. He was 40 years old. From the records, he was living in Switzerland. On Sept 29, 1939, he was transferred to Mauthausen. That is where the information has stopped for me.
Mauthausen was located in Austria. From the Mauthausen/Gusen Death Book, it says, "This death book, with 38,206 names, is not a complete list, since several thousand prisoners, particularly Russian prisoners of war, were never entered into the records, but simply murdered. There were relatively few Jewish prisoners in Mauthausen in the early years, but near the end of WWII this changed and thousands of Jewish forced laborers, particularly Hungarian, were sent to Gusen. The death book includes the names of 10,517 persons identified as Jews. Nearly 68,000 prisoners were held in Gusen before liberation on May 5, 1945. While not a death camp in the strict sense of that term, conditions were so bad that a majority of the prisoners died there."
Between August 8, 1938, and liberation on May 5, 1945, approximately 195,000 prisoners were in Mauthausen. Estimates are that 150,000 perished. The first inmates were German and Austrian political dissidents and priests.
Was this cousin a political dissident or was he a Catholic Priest? Still trying to decipher if he was actually Jewish or perhaps he was a Righteous Gentile?
Here are some Jewish research websites you might look into:
Jewish Gen Databases
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- Stay at home Mom to 1 dog and 2 cats. I am the "big sister" in the photo. My baby sister, passed away unexpectedly, Sept. 2015 at the young age of 56. I miss her terribly. Everyone in my childhood family has now passed. I have 3 sons. My oldest son died in 2003 at the age of 25. GENEALOGY is a growing passion of mine as well as History.