A new philanthropic partnership has made it possible for anyone to digitally access multiple database containing millions of World War II-era records and images to further learn facts and history about their family members displaced or impacted by the Holocaust.
On Wednesday, family tree and genealogy company Ancestry.com announced they had partnered up with the Arolsen Archives – International Center on Nazi Persecution to create a publicly-accessible database that contains “both Holocaust and Nazi persecution related archives.”
“It’s been over 70 years since the Holocaust, and the number of living witnesses and survivors has dwindled to around 400,000, with many of these individuals now in their 80s or 90s,” Ancestry.com notes on their company blog. “Now more than ever, we believe it’s critical that the events of the Holocaust do not become a distant memory and that these records are preserved.”
Ancestry and Arolsen Archives, which is said to be the “world’s most comprehensive archive on the victims and survivors of National Socialism,” included two primary databases in their records: the “Africa, Asia & Europe Passenger Lists of Displaced Persons” and the “Europe, Registration of Foreigners & German Individuals Persecuted.”
The first is described as a collection of displaced individuals who left Germany or other European countries via port or airport from 1946 through 1971. The 1.7 million-record, 300,000-image database includes “Holocaust survivors, former concentration camp inmates and forced laborers, as well as refugees from Central and Eastern European countries and certain non-European countries.”
Ancestry and Arolsen Archives’ second database is a collection of documents detailing those who lived in “Germany and German-occupied territories with non-German citizenship, stateless persons and also German Jews.” An estimated 9.97 million records and 900,000 images are said to even include information about those deceased, such as burial information. The website notes that this particular database is not restricted to those who were incarcerated.
“These records are also deeply personal for me,” Ancestry.com CFO and COO Howard Hochhauser told Fox News Wednesday. “Because of Arolsen Archives and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, I was able to unlock a story about my own grandmother’s experiences as a Holocaust survivor in Germany.”
The companies stress that they hope the collaborative initiative will be a helpful resource, and that it will educate viewers and convince skeptics to realize the magnitude of the Holocaust and get a deeper view of “those who lived through it and those who perished as a result of it.”
Ancestry notes they will continue updating their record collection in 2020.