Hall of Names
Guide to Genealogical Resources at Yad Vashem
Unfortunately, no complete list of the Jewish Victims of the Shoah exists. Similarly, there is no comprehensive list of the Jewish survivors. To trace an individual during the Shoah or thereafter, one may need to utilize a variety of resources, many, but not all of which can be found at Yad Vashem. Following is an outline of resources available at Yad Vashem. Some are easily accessible via Internet; others will require painstaking research.
The Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names
The Names Database is the world's single largest computerized database of Jews murdered in the Shoah. Undoubtedly, the most important source for genealogists at Yad Vashem, the database includes biographical data on over 4.2 million victims from a myriad of sources. Of the 4.2 million names recorded to date, 2.2 million records (about 55%) come from "Pages of Testimony" and the remainder from various archival sources and postwarcommemoration projects. While the majority of the records in the database relate to peoplewho perished in the Holocaust, some of the lists do include records of people who survived.TIP: Searching the database for the submitter of Pages of Testimony in the "Advanced Search" mode can result in finding survivors.
Pages of Testimony
“Pages of Testimony” are special forms created to commemorate Shoah victims. Survivors, relatives or friends and in some cases – researchers, record on these pages the names and biographical details for each victim they know. Yad Vashem has been collecting Pages of Testimony since the mid 1950’s and continues this historic effort to this day. Anyone who cannot find a relative or friend in the database is encouraged to submit a Page of Testimony to commemorate their memory.
Other sources in the database
The database also includes information on Holocaust victims from archival and bibliographicalsources. While, the majority of these sources were computerized at Yad Vashem, partnering organizations have also assisted with the task. Following is a partial list of the sources in the database:
- Lists of those perished from Western Germany, Berlin, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium
- List of those deported from France and Yugoslavia
- Census from the Lodz ghetto
- Partial lists of victims from Hungary, Theresienstadt, Slovakia
- Hundreds of thousands of names of those who perished from the former Soviet Union from theSoviet Special Committee lists (CHGK- These lists include those areas included in the post-war USSR borders.)
- List of the small percentage of Auschwitz victims (slightly under 30,000) whose murder was registered.
- Lists from Yizkor books from various locations (over 300,000 names)
- Information from synagogue plaques and religious books
Plans are underway to complete the computerization of all existing lists containing names of victims at Yad Vashem and to upload them to the databasewithin the next few years. The database is updated with newmaterial approximately three times per year.
The photo archive
The Documents and Photo Archives include many of thousands of files containing informationabout individuals. In some cases, the information is quite extensive; in others sparse. TheYad Vashem Photo Archive collection contains over 130,000 fully digitized historical photos. More and more of the other materials are digitized, and acomputerized catalogue exists for much of the Archives’ holdings.
The Yad Vashem Library holds the world’s largest collection of Yizkor Books (books of commemoration about specific communities), often published by survivors of the community and often including lists of victims from that community. As noted above, some of the lists from Yizkor books have been computerized and the names of the victims have been added to the Central Ddatabase of Shoah Victims' Names. The Yad Vashem library catalog is available online.
The International Tracing Service (ITS, also known as Arolsen)
The ITS, situated in Arolsen, Germany, has collected enormous amounts of archival documentation pertaining to individuals, Jews and non-Jews, during WWII.
For many years, the ITS was closed to the public, only answered questions for relatives of those being searched for, and took up to two years to answer a query. As a result of international pressure, an agreement has been made to open the archive to the public, and to deposit copies of it in various locations, including Yad Vashem. This material exists in a computerized program searchable at Yad Vashem.
The following additional sources for genealogical research are accessible online at www.yadvashem.org:
- Transports to Extinction Shoah deportation database
- The Untold Stories: The Murder Sites of the Jews in the Occupied Territories of the Former USSR
- Stories of Righteous among the Nations (partial listing)
- Library catalog
Success in tracing individuals depends on a number of things:
- The existence of documentation (anywhere, or at Yad Vashem).
- The amount and quality of prior information known to the researcher. The more one knows in advance, the more precise a search can be carried out, and the greater the chances of finding results. Names alone will generally not be enough; dates, places, location, and so on will enhance the search possibilities.
- Proficiency in languages: documentation exists in numberous languages, some neatly typed, some handwritten, in a multitude of scripts.
Please note: There exists a small collection of genealogical sources in the Yad Vashem library collection, but it is not generally productive to engage in genealogical research, not pertaining to the Holocaust, at Yad Vashem.
Reference and Information Services at Yad Vashem
Queries may be sent to Yad Vashem. It can take up to a month to receive a reply and a service charge may be applied. It is advisable to submit queries via the online forms accessible on the Yad Vashem website "contact us" section
or via Fax: (972-2)-644-3669
or regular mail: Yad Vashem P.O.B. 3477 Jerusalem 91034, Israel