Monique Keppler, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, recently submitted to Yad Vashem some 400 names of her extended family members who were murdered in the Shoah. Through extensive genealogical research, Keppler traced her family line back several hundreds of years. However, when it came to the Holocaust period, she did not know much. Her parents rarely spoke about their past or about their family story during those dark days.
Monique knew that her family were natives of Amsterdam and that the large majority of them were murdered, along with many of the Jews of the city. "My mother passed away never knowing what happened to her family. One night they were herded into a truck and taken to the train station in Amsterdam. Miraculously, Mother was able to hide in the restroom. She stayed there for a long time and when she went back to the platform everyone was gone. Only she and her younger brother, who hid himself on the roof of their house, survived," she stated.
Monique shared her impressions of what has been a profoundly meaningful experience making use of information on Yad Vashem's Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names. She relates the following story about her pregnant Aunt whose baby was born and died in the camps. "It has been a very emotional experience to find the names of these many family members who I never knew, yet feel a connection with. I discovered that Mother's pregnant sister had her baby at Westerbork in June 1943. The next dates for both of them are [listed in] Auschwitz September 1943, on the same day. As I imagined the horror of having a baby in the camp and then being transported to Auschwitz I was filled with grief and sorrow, crying for many days."
The process provided much more than just information for Monique, it granted her a sense of closure and deepened her understanding of her own personal loss, "All my life I wanted to know about my family but my parents didn't speak about it. I was an only child and always hoped for more siblings while growing up. Having filled out more than 400 pages of testimony I am staggered by the extent of my loss. Thinking about what might have been - having a very large family instead of the tiny family we were," Monique explained. Monique was assisted by Ursula Szczepinska, curator of education and director of research at the Florida Holocaust Museum, a dedicated partner of the Shoah Victims' Names Project.
For more information and assistance contact the Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project: firstname.lastname@example.org