A remarkable database has just been added to the Internet. It is a collection of detailed information about more than 3 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Called the Central Database of Shoah Victims‚ Names, but for the tragedy that created it, it is a genealogical gold mine. It was developed by Yad Vashem, the principal Holocaust memorial and archives located in Jerusalem. The site is at http://www.yadvashem.org/.
The majority of documents in the database are known as Pages of Testimony, a manuscript collection created over the past 50 years by Yad Vashem from family members who stated (gave testimony) that their family member was murdered in the Holocaust. The submitter was asked to provide the victim's name, maiden name if a married woman, year of birth, name of parents, place of birth, place of residence before the Holocaust, place of death, name of spouse including maiden name, and names and ages of children who perished. It is virtually a three-generation chart. The document also includes the name/address of the submitter and relationship to the deceased.
Jewish genealogists throughout the world already are discovering in the database family members who perished in the Holocaust that were previously known only by familial relationship (i.e., a grandfather's brother). They are also finding that the persons who submitted the Pages of Testimony are sometimes family members previously not known to have survived.
There are two search facilities: the basic search that appears on the initial screen and an advanced search. The basic search permits the user to search by last name, first name and place. The advanced search allows access to most fields on the Page of Testimony.
The system automatically uses a synonym feature that is very valuable. Yad Vashem has compiled a list of both last and first names and determined which are synonyms of the other. In one example, searching for a person whose name was Rose, identified women whose given names were Raizel, Reize, Riscl, Raizela, Royze, Roza, Roze and Ruza. The last-name search feature automatically includes searching for maiden name. You can even search by submitter name.