The members of the board of the Memory of Treblinka Foundation, Ewa Teleżyńska-Sawicka and Paweł Sawicki, took part in the International Conference “Treblinka – warns and recalls!”, organized by the Treblinka Museum on May 31 – June 1, 2021. They gave a lecture entitled “Project of creating the Book of Names – database of people murdered in Treblinka and their commemoration.” In their speech, they pointed out that the vast majority of the nearly one million Jews murdered in Treblinka are not known by their first and last names. The “Memory of Treblinka” Foundation collects a list of Treblinka victims. Close to 60,000 people have been collected to date. Nearly 42,500 have been published on memoryoftreblinka.org. Were found about 5,000 people, whose data are not in the Central Database of Yad Vashem Holocaust Victims, or in other large databases of Holocaust victims. The text discusses the sources that were used. The rules for placing data in the database are also presented. When creating a database, the authors had to face many problems and dilemmas. Apart from discussing them, the main challenges facing the base expansion and plans for further actions are presented. At the end of the article, there is a list of more important sources from which the information was obtained.
The full text of the article is presented below.
Everyone has a name. About 80 years ago, during World War II, millions of people were taken, disappeared. Not only were their lives taken, not only everything they had, but even their names and memory were taken. It happened, among many other places, here in Treblinka. German criminals wanted to annihilate the entire culture, history and heritage of Jews, the entire Jewish world. Whole communities were murdered – all its members without exceptions. Treblinka is an extraordinary cemetery of almost 900,000 people: without graves, where no surnames or names can be found on the stone slabs (apart from one name – Janusz Korczak – Henryk Goldszmit). Instead of the names of individual people, you will find the names of the towns and villages of the Jewish communities that were murdered here. It is easy to find a stone with the name of the town, and it is more difficult to find the names of the murdered. We do not know exactly how many people died in Treblinka. Historians’ estimates vary by tens of thousands – that’s the number of inhabitants in a medium-sized city.
According to Jewish tradition, a person dies three times. The first time when he physically dies. The second death is the funeral. The third death occurs when no one of the living says his name anymore. When we created the project “Names” (10 years ago), we didn’t know that tradition. In own way we tried to oppose the anonymity of the victims of the Holocaust. We looked up the names of Jews and then read the names out loud in many places in Poland, where Jews – Polish citizens – lived and died. On the last Saturday of each month, we read names in Treblinka. All the names we have read are written on the website www.projekt-imiona.pl.
In 2015, Samuel Willenberg and Professor Paweł Śpiewak established the “Memory of Treblinka” Foundation. We became its members. Collecting names has become more than a project, a life’s work: to create a “Book of Names”. That is a database of the names of victims of the Treblinka extermination camp. The bilingual (Polish and English) database is being expanded on the Foundation’s websites: www.pamiectreblinki.org and www.memoryoftreblinka.org. At the moment (data as of March 23, 2021), 45 442 names of people who died in Treblinka or on the way to Treblinka can be found in the database. Another 14,500 names are being prepared for inclusion in the database. About 4,000 of the people in Foundation database, as far as we know, are not in any other large Holocaust database, in particular not present in the largest database – Yad Vashem. Data of another 1,000 such people are in preparation.
We would like to mention all these people by name and surname in the Educational Center that is being built in Treblinka. We would like a Hall of the Names to be established there. The detailed method of commemoration should be developed by the artists; it is important for us to gather all available names of the victims in advance. We will continue collecting also after the Hall of Names is built – there must be a free space for the next names as they are identified.
- The world’s largest databases of Holocaust victims
There are many centers in the world that collect data about the victims of the Holocaust. The largest are: the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem, the American Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington (Database of Holocaust victims available at the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum www.ushmm.org.) and the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Arolsen, Germany, now known as Arolsen-Archives. Each of these organizations has a multi-million collection, but the number of victims of the Treblinka camp in each of these archives is relatively small. Yad Vashem collected the most data, about 100,000 victims of Treblinka. A large base of Treblinka victims is also located in the Ghetto Museum in Terezin (during the Second World War Theresienstadt), where a concentration camp was organized for approx. 140,000 prisoners, mainly Jews. Database of Holocaust victims available at the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum www.ushmm.org. has only a dozen or so thousand records regarding Treblinka, ITS less than half of that of Database of Holocaust victims available at the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum www.ushmm.org.. The reasons for this are known. The Germans prepared the manifests for Jews deported from Western Europe, while Jews living in Eastern Europe (90% of Treblinka victims came from) were either murdered on the spot or put into cattle cars and sent to death camps without any passenger list. Numbers were chalked on the wagons – probably the numbers of the people in each of them. These numbers were reported to Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army) by Franciszek Ząbecki, a railway man from the Treblinka station and an Armia Krajowa member. After adding them up, it was estimated that 1,200,000 people died in Treblinka. However, researchers do not confirm such a high number of murdered people.
Below, we present the basic principles of creating a database of Treblinka victims, adopted by the “Memory of Treblinka” Foundation.
- Analysis of the sources for creating the database of Treblinka victims
By creating a database of victims of the Treblinka extermination camp, the “Memory of Treblinka” Foundation collects information about victims from all possible sources.
The largest source for our data base is the Central Database on Holocaust Victims at Yad Vashem (yvng.yadvashem.org) containing more than 24,000 names at present. More than half we have received courtesy of Dr. Alexander Avram, Director of the Hall of Names Department of the Yad Vashem Institute. The data in this database comes mostly from millions of testimonies (“Page of Testimony”), submitted since the 1950s, most often by relatives of the murdered, on the basis of information in their possession. The data is not always accurate, especially regarding the circumstances of the deaths, but they are often the only data we have.
The second largest source of data used by Foundation is the information provided by the courtesy of Dr. Tomáš Fedorovič of the Pamiátník Terezin Museum. In September and October 1942, 18,004 people from the concentration camp in Terezin were transported to Treblinka. 17,933 names are known from this number. Mainly old people were deported. Nearly half of them were Jews from the Czech Republic, one third came from Germany and one sixth – from Austria. Many of them were born outside these countries, for example in Poland. 80% of the deportees were over the age of 65. The younger ones are almost exclusively Czech Jews, including many young children. The vast majority were murdered upon arrival, and only a few of those brought in these transports were left alive. Some of them later co-organized the uprising in Treblinka. Two Czech Jews not only escaped, but also survived the war. Two out of eighteen thousand! This was the chance for Treblinka prisoners to survive. We have very precise data for the 17,931 people brought from Terezin: almost all their dates of birth, we know from where and when they were deported to Terezin, we know when they were sent to Treblinka. Photos of many of them have been collected on the Database comprising lists of all transports from Terezin to Treblinka and information about people in each transport, available on website www.holocaust.cz. website.
Another extensive source used by the Foundation is the work edited by prof. Nadia Danova and Roumen Avramov “Deportation of Jews from West Thrace, Macedonia and Pirot in March 1943 – documents from the Bulgarian archives.” It includes, among other documents, lists of Jews living in Macedonia (over 7,000) and in eastern Greece – Western Thrace (over 4,000), which the Bulgarian occupation authorities handed over to Germans in March 1943. As far as we know, no manifest was prepared for them, but there are lists of Jewish inhabitants of these regions prepared just a few days before the deportations. The lists were drawn up by families and residential addresses. There are handwritten notes on them, which show that some people were not arrested, but additional people were added. This does not mean that everyone on these lists died in Treblinka, but that can be assumed with a very high probability. While the majority of Polish Jews realized what Treblinka meant, and many tried to flee, the deportees from Macedonia, Greece or Terezin were convinced that they were going to work in the alleged factory complex in Treblinka. They were transported in good conditions, they even had to buy tickets, and Bulgarian doctors accompanied them part of the way. Unlike Polish Jews, from Vienna to Treblinka they traveled in ordinary passenger cars. We heard from one of the researchers at Yad Vashem that the doctor accompanying such a transport who was tried after the war, testified that two young people escaped in Budapest from the ship in which the deportees were transported (on the Danube route from Lom to Vienna). The escapes were unique. Not knowing the language was an additional barrier against escaping.
In the second largest database of Holocaust victims (Holocaust Victims and Survivors Database www.ushmm.org/online/hsv/person_advance_search.php) created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, information about Treblinka concerns mainly people who were deported from Terezin.
The source that requires more detailed research from us is the ITS database in Arolsen. There are more than five thousand records in which the word “Treblinka” appears. Between them there is a complete manifest for the transport from Darmstadt. 883 people left Germany on September 30, 1942 and reached Treblinka two days later, on October 2, 1942.
The Foundation also uses over 7,000 accounts and 330 diaries submitted to the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. They were mainly made by Holocaust survivors, but there are also a number of documents written during the war and testimonies of those who helped those in hiding. Some of the accounts were written in Yiddish, but almost all of them were translated into Polish at the Institute. They are also a valuable source of information about the family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances of those reporting. All we sometimes know about a person is that he was someone else’s brother-in-law, cousin, or kinsman; we don’t know the name, surname or age – nothing but the tragic story they experienced.
The Foundation also uses a collection of approximately 1,500 reports from the Archives of the Yad Vashem Institute, submitted by Jewish survivors in Poland.
An important Polish source of data regarding the victims of Treblinka are court files which declared individuals dead before the Municipal Courts in many Polish cities shortly after the war. It is a poorly or completely unexploited source by researchers. It should be approached critically as the accounts of witnesses are not always reliable. Nevertheless, more than half of the people in files reviewed by us who are listed as murdered in Treblinka are not in any other database known to us. Advertisements in “Monitor Polski” play a similar role as the files of the Municipal Courts, but we will not find any details of the events there, only the personal data of the victims. This data was prepared for the Foundation by Oral testimony of Roman Weinfeld. (member of the Foundation’s Management Board).
The source requiring analyses are the registers of residents of the towns. A unique example is the register of Kozienice inhabitants kept during the war, containing information on deaths throughout that period. In the register, next to the names of about 3,300 inhabitants, a stamp was affixed with the following text: “displaced on September 27, 1942 in an unknown direction”. On that day, Germans deported approx. 13,000 Jews from Kozienice to Treblinka. The stamp does not mean that all of them were undoubtedly killed in Treblinka. We established that a dozen or so people from this group survived the war or were on lists of other camps in 1944/45. No more than a quarter of Names marked as exported were on the Yad Vashem database, but only a few of them had enough information to identify them correctly.
There are few living witnesses of the Holocaust, but we also obtained some of our data from them. For example, from Oral testimony of Halina Birenbaum. we have information of about 47 people – coming from her family, her neighbors and friends. 29 of them have already been reported to Yad Vashem by her or other people, but 18 people are only in our database. Of these 18 people, 13 died in Treblinka. Information about their families was also passed on to the Foundation by the representatives of the “second generation” – children of the survivors.
A valuable source of data for the Foundation are the testimonies submitted on the form available on our website (www.memoryoftreblinka.org/the-names-of-the-victims/remembering-the-names-survey-summary/). To this day, we have received testimonies from over 200 people from different countries of the world, which contain data on nearly 500 people considered murdered in Treblinka. About a third of them do not exist in any of the databases we know. In addition to information, we also often receive photos. Some of our submitters decided to come to Poland and visit Treblinka.
A unique source are interviews collected in the archives of the USC Shoah Foundation, created by Steven Spielberg (sfi.usc.edu). There are a lot of emotions and evaluations in them, often very painful. In order to fully understand some of their fragments, one needs to know the names of Jewish dishes, geographic places in Poland, and have knowledge of the pre-war and war relations between Poles and Jews. Thanks to Spielberg’s great initiative, over 51,000 interviews around the world were recorded in a relatively short time, often literally at the last minute (due to the advanced age of Holocaust survivors). It was not possible for only historians to conduct these interviews. It’s not unexpected that the interviewers are not always well prepared. They were provided with a fixed set of questions, had a specific time to listen to the accounts, and therefore often cut the story short, and did not ask for details. The reports were more focused on documenting the Shoah and on the individual fates of those interviewed, rather than on compiling a detailed list of the Holocaust victims.
In Treblinka (also later in Sobibór), prisoners organized an uprising that ended with a mass escape. After the war, many of the refugees submitted detailed reports, and a dozen or so wrote extensive memoirs about their stay in Treblinka. These memoirs usually contain mentions of many people, but often very laconic, reduced only to the name of the victim of the extermination camp and some story related to him.
There are two additional databases used by the Foundation which need to be mentioned: the database on the Warsaw ghetto created by the Center for Research on the Extermination of Jews (www.getto.pl) and the Stockholm Holocaust Monument - the memorial honours the names of 8,000 victims whose relatives survived the war and came to live in Sweden. The monument also states the date and place of birth of each individual, as well as when and where they died. (www.thelocal.se). On the other hand, data from many other databases (e.g. the Austrian Österreichische Opfer des Holocaust database, www.doew.at) coincide with the data in the above-mentioned sources.
We also use telephone directories, pre-war lists of doctors, address books or genealogical websites, which are the source of information detailing the data of a specific person, e.g. address of residence or degree of kinship.
An interesting source may be the Books of Remembrance for individual localities. When it is known that the entire community of a given town was deported to Treblinka, it could be assumed that all the victims of the Holocaust mentioned in the Book are at the same time victims of Treblinka. However, we have not adopted such an assumption so far. Many were taken to labor camps, resettled, many escaped before or during the liquidation of the ghetto, and finally many died in the ghetto. Therefore, we do not consider all inhabitants of a given town to be victims of Treblinka, we are looking for detailed information about their fate.
We also use sources created by contemporary Holocaust researchers. People like Christian Webb, Michal Chocholaty, Meir Grover and historians from the Center for Research on the Extermination of Jews should be mentioned here. Moreover, the sources also include numerous historical studies, memoirs, correspondence, and even, which may surprise many, novels (e.g. “Nowolipie” by Józef Hen or “The House of Writers in the Times of Plague” by Tomasz Jastrun). The list of sources used by us, successively supplemented, is available on the Foundation’s website; most important are given at the end of this text.
- Criteria for placing people in the base of Treblinka victims
When creating the base, we decided to insert not only those who were brought to the place of execution, to the camp itself and murdered here. The vast majority of the deported reached Treblinka – few managed to escape, others died trying to escape from the transport, and many died during the journey. There have been transports of which almost no one survived (e.g. transport from Międzyrzec on August 25, 1942). The deportation itself was extremely brutal. People who refused to strictly follow orders were most often tortured and killed on the spot. Many people died at concentration points, e.g. at the Umschlagplatz in the Warsaw Ghetto. There were cases of suicide during deportation and during the trip to Treblinka. We assumed that in the victims of Treblinka database should be all those who were arrested for deportation to Treblinka and died in various circumstances – during arrest, during deportation, in a wagon during their journey to Treblinka, or in Treblinka itself. If we read in the report that a given person was on the Umschlagplatz and there is no information that he/she managed to escape from there, we assume that this person is a victim of Treblinka. People who died immediately before deportation, or who committed suicide at the news of the upcoming action, do not belong to this group.
Despite a fairly strict definition of who is a victim of Treblinka, decisions often have to be made only on the basis of a fragmentary description. Can a Treblinka refugee who did not survive be included among the victims of the camp? If the death occurred directly as a result of an escape from the camp, the data about such a person will be found in the Treblinka victims base, but if the escape was successful but he died later under different circumstances, then, according to our assumptions, he is not a Treblinka victim. And what about situations where the trace of a given person is lost, and the only thing we know about him is that he was in a ghetto, whose inhabitants were transported to Treblinka? When there are indications that there was contact with a given person until the deportation, and not after the deportation, we consider the person a victim of the extermination camp. The mere fact of being in the ghetto is not enough to enter data about such a person in the Foundation’s database.
There are contradictory reports, e.g. according to the document from Arolsen a given person was transported from Darmstadt to Treblinka, and according to her/his child, who gave a testimony at Yad Vashem – to Auschwitz. When there is at least one credible account of a deportation to Treblinka and it is not excluded by another document (e.g. a list of persons from another camp), we enter data about such a person in the database, listing various places of alleged death (e.g. Treblinka/Auschwitz). When the account is not reliable enough, we disregard it. Family members often rely on hearsay and uncertain information, especially if they themselves were in a completely different place during the war (e.g. in the USSR). Due to the fact that the dates of all 10 transports from Terezin to Treblinka and the names of 99.6% of those deported are known, it is easy to assess the accuracy of the information about former prisoners of Terezin. When the report mentions someone who is not on any list known to us, and who was allegedly deported from Terezin to Treblinka on a completely different date, we believe that this information is unreliable.
- Information about the victims placed in the Foundation’s database
We care not only about the number of records in the database, but also about the memory of specific people. Therefore, in addition to basic personal data, essential for each database of Holocaust victims, we try to include, whenever possible, additional information. Sometimes these are the last words, sometimes the circumstances of death, appearance, behavior. It is not a formal curriculum vitae, in the case of famous people it can be easily found in other sources. We want to bring this person closer as a living person, provide at least one more detail about him/her as a person.
Occupation is an important piece of information about a victim, an essential element of human identity, so we want to provide it as precisely as possible. Most often there is no problem with this, because professions such as merchant, teacher or pianist existed before the war and still exist. But there are a lot of professions that have disappeared. In the past, many people were involved in the production of shoes, so there were specialists in various types and elements of shoes, e.g. manufacturers of uppers only. Today, even the shoemakers themselves are few. Sometimes, the application of a profession requires consultation and research. For example, опинчар (opinchar) – the profession appearing in Bulgarian documents is not known today (we asked Bulgarians about it), but it was a shoemaker producing moccasins (a kind of leather loafers).
Information about a single person recorded in the Foundation’s database is an original compilation of data collected about him from all available sources. We have at least one source of information for each person who has a record in the database. There are people whose information comes from six sources. Separately (apart from access in the network) records containing data broken down by source are archived, so that it is possible to check where each individual piece of information about a given person comes from.
Family relationships between the victims are of particular importance to us. The most common information in the databases is contained in the documents – parents’ names, maiden name, mother’s maiden name. We would like those loving husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, children with their parents and grandparents, sometimes great-grandparents, separated forever by the Holocaust – to be reunited. This is often a very difficult task. The names of the victims were written in various alphabets, including Hebrew without vowels. The transliteration of these surnames into the Latin alphabet can be very different. The relatively short name Lipszyc can be written in 90 different ways. When one person makes an account of a given family, the surname of the family members is usually written in the same way. Very often, however, it turns out that accounts come from various sources. It is not easy to find members of the Silbersztajn family among people with the surname, for example, Zylbershtein. We mark questionable decisions with a question mark. Finding family members, connecting a lost child with a mother is the awareness of restoring a little memory.
Address information is also important. Having the addresses makes it easier to realize that during the Holocaust we lost our close neighbors. Several people who are in our base lived in the house where we live today. When I started living here over 50 years ago, one of the daughters of a crime victim in Treblinka lived next to me. At the time, I had no idea about it.
On the last Saturday of the month, a dozen or so people gather at the monument to the victims of Treblinka, near the place where the gas chambers were located, to commemorate the victims of Treblinka. We distribute cards devoted to the victims of the Holocaust. In addition to the name and surname, we always try to provide at least a short story about each person. Reading these better shows not only the enormity of the crime, but also the individual dramas. The end of the world happened 900,000 times in Treblinka – the world of every person murdered here.
- Presentation of data about the victims in the Foundation’s database
The presentation of Treblinka victims in the Foundation’s database is performed in two stages. The database allows you to first search for a person according to many criteria (name, surname, date of birth, parents’ names, maiden name, sex, age, country, city, profession, source of information). In addition to the standard search method in the database, the Soundex method, i.e. phonetic convergence, is also available. As a result, when, for example, the surname Lipszyc is entered, other surnames with similar sound are also displayed. The database also allows you to sort the results according to several criteria.
After viewing the results in the table, one can get more detailed information about each person by clicking on their data and going to the next screen. The detailed presentation screen shows all the information about this person in the Foundation’s possession, as well as their photo (if any) and a list of their family members. We hope that someday it will be possible to display a mini family tree showing family relationships. At present, the terms used must suffice – e.g. mother, son, daughter-in-law, grandson. Among family members there are also people who died in the Holocaust, but not in Treblinka. They cannot be searched on the main search screen – there is only displayed data of those who died in or on the way to Treblinka. However, when we have information that someone close to the victim of Treblinka is also a victim of the Shoah, but died elsewhere, we provide information about this person as a family member.
Pictures of both individuals and families are an important element of the presentation. The photos were most often taken before the war. They show ordinary people, full of life and warmth. These photos do not differ from the pre-war photos of Polish, German, Czech, Greek and other families. They testify to the fact that they were ordinary citizens of European countries – just like us except differing only in that they were Jews.
- The biggest problems and challenges related to the creation of the Treblinka victims database
Building a database of Treblinka victims requires constant discussions, decisions and searches. Such dilemmas concern, for example, whether a given person can be classified as a victim of Treblinka, whether we have sufficient grounds to determine family relationships, whether the data we have relates to the same or two different people. We mark doubtful situations with a question mark. Some decisions have to be made arbitrarily based on residual data. The French and the Dutch have almost complete data of the victims of the Holocaust who were citizens of their countries. The dates and places of their birth, dates and places of death are available. Meanwhile, for Polish Jews – who probably accounted for around 90% of Treblinka victims – we have residual data. When we have two different accounts of people with the same name and surname, from the same locality and of a similar age, can we assume that they are the same person? In the case of Polish Jews, this would be a lot of information anyway … Is the description “Růžena Kohnová from Prague, aged 60+”, enough to identify a person? Only 2% of Treblinka victims were from Terezin. But within that relatively small group there were 6 different Růžena Kohnová from Prague aged 60+. And besides them, there was another Růžena Kohnová from Prague, aged 32, and one Růžena Kohnová from Pilsen, aged 61 or 68.
Is the information that the people lived at the same address sufficient to consider that they constituted a family? Could it be that the age difference between mother and child was 15 years or less? Are Chaja and Hela the same name? Polish Jews, apart from the Jewish name, often used the Polish first name. It is easier to identify people when this Polish name is equivalent to a Jewish name, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
In many databases, including ours, the information provided about a person is highly fragmented. We try to find more details for each of them in all possible sources. But it is good to have at least rudimentary data about the person. In a few cases, we decided to include a story in the database about a person whose first and last name is unknown at present, but may be able to be identified in the future. For example, the moving story of the death of Aron Czechowicz’s brother-in-law (Written testimonies collected in the Archive of Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw; testimony number and the relationship of the witness and the deceased (if known) are provided. 301/688, rel. Aron Czechowicz). The multitude of events that we come across in relationships do not give any basis for identifying a person, so their death is still anonymous. We consider other accounts not reliable enough. A very moving story about an attempt by a German admiral to get his maid and her daughter out of the Umschlagplatz is probably untrue – we know nothing about a German admiral living in Warsaw. We believe it is based on the arrest of the maid of Austrian SS-Sturmbannführer Hermann Höfle. When Höfle came to take her and her daughter out from the Umschlagplatz, the cattle cars were already sealed. This is the same Höfle who was the author of the famous telegram sent on January 11, 1943 from Lublin, a very important proof of the scale of the Nazi genocide.
We have a list of approximately 1,500 inhabitants of Konstantynów, dating from April 1940, almost ready to be included in the base. Meir G. Grover (Yizkor to Jewish Konstantynow Podlaski) mentions them as Treblinka victims. However, there is no concrete evidence that these people died in Treblinka or during the deportation. So far, we have not decided to include this list in the Foundation’s database.
On March 30, 1943, according to one of the railway dispatches, one of the trains from the Third Reich was sent to Sobibór. Transports of Jews from Greece and Macedonia were described in this way in railway dispatches at this time. Does this mean that some of those brought from Greece and Macedonia went not to Treblinka but to Sobibór? Does this question the correctness of the recognition that those deported by the Bulgarians ended up in Treblinka? When over 11,000 people from this list are added to the database, we will post on our website information about possible transport to Sobibór, but we consider all of them as victims of the Treblinka camp.
The size of our base is a growing problem. It’s not just a matter of tools. We use Excel for current data processing, which is not very efficient in dealing with files over 20 MB. It is more difficult to verify whether the information obtained relates to a new person or a person already entered in the database. A significant challenge is also the speed of presentation of search results on the Foundation’s website.
Despite the increasingly complex procedures of ensuring data purity and their verification, the database is not free from errors. That’s why we continue to create (and apply) new methods of verifying the correctness of data in the database.
The base’s resistance to external attacks is also a problem. All websites that allow the user to enter information are more vulnerable to an external cyber-attack. Last year, one such attack immobilized the Foundation’s website for several days.
The challenge is the need for various translations. We greatly appreciate the people who support us in translating. The proposed English version sent by us to the US comes back from our colleague Nomi Waksberg, often supplemented with important explanations. Who now understands what the rabbi was expressing by saying “Wide”? The challenge is to translate documents from Bulgarian or German. Reading extensive files in Polish is also an issue. The Foundation used the competence and commitment of many people, for which they deserve great thanks.
Last, but not least, are our efforts to ensure that the base is of value not only for commemorations, but also for Holocaust researchers. That is why it is very important for us to consult with the outstanding Holocaust historian Alina Skibińska to confirm that the methods used by us are historically and academically valid.
- Further activities related to the creation of the Treblinka victims database
By the end of 2022, the Foundation plans to create a complete list of Treblinka victims based on all the most important and abundant sources. However, the job of sifting through all available sources is a task for at least the next few years. In addition, we are constantly discovering (or someone informs us) about new sources that require review and extraction of data contained in them. We want as many people as possible to know about the “Book of Names” – the database of Treblinka victims created by the Foundation. We are convinced that this is helped by an interesting Facebook profile run by a member of the Foundation’s Management Board Małgorzata Sołtysik. We are grateful for any information, even if it concerns only one person, even if only the name and surname. Each subsequent recorded person is one anonymous person less of those who died in this terrible place.
When information shows that many hundreds of thousands of people have died, the tragedy of individual dimensions may disappear. This individual dimension is brought closer by the photographs, as has already been mentioned. But not all of them. Most of the photos from the times of the Holocaust show people horribly devastated by the war. Images so distant from the reality around us give the impression that what happened during the Holocaust concerned someone else, was part of a different world, a world distant from ours, alien in some way. Such images can even make it difficult to understand what happened during these dark times. Perhaps the Germans, by placing such images in war propaganda films, hoped that they would arouse not sympathy, but resentment and disgust. The words of the war testimonies, the diaries, the verbal accounts allow us to see how little people have changed since then even more than the images preserved in the war pictures. Reading through memories, looking at pre-war photos, listening to spoken reports, we are convinced that the people who were just like us but sentenced to death. They had similar dreams, plans, hopes, loves, interests, weaknesses or moments of genius. The things they left behind are their fear, suffering and tears – which we must remember. And there are Names left that we should say so that the victims would not die a third time.
List of sources used to create the database. Only sources from which at least 10 people came were included. More than one source can be assigned to one person.
|Lp||Source||Number of use|
|1||“Pages of Testimony” deposited at the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem||24 441|
|2||Museum Terezín Memorial Site – archival collections gathered in Terezín||17 932|
|3||N. Danova and R. Avramov – Deportation of Jews from West Thrace, Macedonia and Pirot in March 1943 – documents from Bulgarian archives||11 173 (under development)|
|4||The database of the Holocaust victims on the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: www.ushmm.org||7 137|
|5||Österreichische Opfer des Holocaust, Archives of Austrian Holocaust victims, Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes||2 857|
|6||Szukajwarchiwach.gov.pl – Register of inhabitants of the city of Kozienice||about 3 300 (under development)|
|7||The State Archives in Warsaw, containing the files of the District Courts in cases concerning declaring the dead, inheritance or other||1275|
|8||Arolsen Archives – digital archive||882|
|9||Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw – written reports in this Archive||872|
|10||Stockholm Holocaust Monument - the memorial honours the names of 8,000 victims whose relatives survived the war and came to live in Sweden. The monument also states the date and place of birth of each individual, as well as when and where they died. – the monument commemorates 8,000 victims, whose relatives survived the war and came to Sweden||762|
|11||Yad Vashem Archive – written reports submitted to the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem||537|
|12||Memory of Treblinka Foundation (deposited accounts)||514|
|13||USC (University of South California) Shoah Foundation, Visual History Archive®||408|
|14||Official Journal of the Republic of Poland “Monitor Polski“.||392|
|15||Telephone books (published up to 1939) printed and / or presented at www.genealogyindexer.org||325|
|16||Internet database on the Warsaw ghetto: getto.pl||299|
|17||Federal Archives of Germany, available at Federal Archives of Germany, available on-line.||267|
|18||Meir Halevi Grover, Yizkor to Jewish Dlugosiodlo Poland, Second Generation Publication, 2019||244|
|19||Chris Webb, Michal Chocholatý, The Treblinka Death Camp: History, Biographies, Remembrance, ed. ibidem-Verlag, Jessica Haunschild u Christian Schon, 2014||218|
|20||Files of the Institute of National Remembrance from the investigation into the crime of genocide committed by officers of the Third German Reich in the years 1942-1943 in the German Nazi extermination camp in Treblinka||150|
|21||Since 1995 artist Gunter Demnig has been commemorating the victims of the German Nazi regime through his project "Stolpersteine” – Stumbling Stones. The list of names, places and biographies are located at the website www.stolpersteine-hamburg.de (www.stolpersteine-hamburg.de)||148|
|22||Books of Remembrance of Jewish Communities, Andrzej Trzciński, Adam Kopciowski, Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska, publ. UMCS Lublin 2014||140|
|23||Cemeteries database: World’s largest gravesite collection - www.findagrave.com||132|
|24||Jan Bogdan Gliński, Biographical Dictionary of Doctors and Pharmacists: Victims of the Second World War. volumes 1-6, Warsaw 1997-2018||122|
|25||A Research Lab Korczakianum documenting the legacy of Janusz Korczak: www.korczakianum.muzeumwarszawy.pl. – a center documenting the life legacy of Janusz Korczak: www.korczakianum.muzeumwarszawy.pl.||113|
|26||Wiesław Paszkowski, Jewish Cemetery in Częstochowa, guide book volume 1, publ. Częstochowa Museum Częstochowa 2012||88|
|27||Centropa, a foundation collecting documents on the fate of twentieth-century Jews from Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans: Centropa is a non-profit, Jewish historical institute dedicated to preserving 20th century Jewish family stories and photos from Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and disseminating these stories and photos through films, books and exhibitions.||87|
|28||Information from the online encyclopedia – www.wikipedia.org.||70|
|29||Foundation for the Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland – database containing inscriptions from many Jewish cemeteries in Poland: www. cemetery.jewish.org.pl||64|
|30||Miriam Kuperhand, Saul Kuperhand, Shadows of Treblinka, ed. University of Illinois Press 1998||62|
|31||Henryk Makower, Diary from the Warsaw Ghetto, publ. Ossolineum 1987||57|
|32||Children of the Holocaust say… vol. 1-5, memories collected by the Association of “Children of the Holocaust”, ed. Association of “Children of the Holocaust” in Poland, Warsaw 2014-2016||49|
|33||Oral testimony of Halina Birenbaum. – private person||47|
|34||Emanuel Ringelblum, Chronicle of the Warsaw Ghetto. September 1939 – January 1943, introduction and edited A. Eisenbach, pub. Czytelnik, Warsaw 1988||43|
|35||Ghetto Fighters’ House Archives – Archives of Holocaust victims located in the Beit Lohamei Haghetaot kibbutz||42|
|36||Yizkor (Memorial) Books are books published by former residents or landsmanshaftn as remembrances of homes and people lost during the Holocaust. The majority of these books were written in Hebrew or Yiddish. Yizkor Book Garwolin is avaliable on jewishgen.org. – the memory book of the Garwolin Jews||42|
|37||Website of the World Society of Częstochowa Jews and their descendants – Zbigniew Grządzielski, Jewish Education in Częstochowa Between the Wars (A Survey of the Local Sources), [in:] www.czestochowajews.org||41|
|38||Helena Szereszewska, The Cross and the Mezuzah, pub. Reader 1993||41|
|39||Polish Dictionary of Jewish Culture created by the Jewish Historical Institute, available on website www.jhi.pl/psj. – Polish Judaic Dictionary, developed by the Jewish Historical Institute||37|
|40||Meir Garbarz Grover, Yizkor to Jewish Konstantynow Podlaski, Second Generation Publication 2018||30|
|41||Bartłomiej Samarski, Missing 1939-1945 in the light of the files of the Municipal Court in Białystok, volume II – Białystok poviat, publ. Prymat 2011||27|
|42||Oral testimony of Roman Weinfeld. – private person||24|
|43||Official list: doctors, dentists, pharmacists, medical assistants, nurses, midwives, authorized and independent dental technicians… Warsaw 1939||24|
|44||Source for Jewish genealogy research – JewishGen serves as-as the global home for Jewish genealogy. Featuring unparalleled access to 30+ million records, it offers unique search tools, along with opportunities for researchers to connect with others who share similar interests.||24|
|45||Richard Glazar, Treblinka station, pub. Archives collected by the Karta Centre, available on website www.karta.org.pl. Center 2011||23|
|46||The Martyrdom of Jewish Physicians in Poland, Edited by Louis Falstein. Exposition Press UC. New York 1963||23|
|47||Jewish fate. Testimony of the Living, vol. I-III, ed. Marian Turski, pub. JHI and the Association of Jewish Combatants and Victims of the Second World War, Warsaw 1996||22|
|48||Genealogy information website – Powerful Genealogy Tools - www.geni.com||22|
|49||Samuel Willenberg, Mutiny in Treblinka, ed. Więź 2004||21|
|50||Maria Ciesielska, Doctors of the Warsaw Ghetto, pub. Dwa Światy 2017||21|
|51||Stolpersteine_in_Berlin (Since 1995 artist Gunter Demnig has been commemorating the victims of the German Nazi regime through his project "Stolpersteine” – Stumbling Stones. The list of names, places and biographies are located at the website www.stolpersteine-berlin.de)||21|
|52||Marek Edelman, “Unknown records about the Warsaw ghetto”||20|
|53||Władka Meed (Fajgełe Peltel), On Both Sides of the Wall, ed. Jaworski, Warsaw 2003||20|
|54||Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team, available at: www.holocaustresearchproject.org||20|
|55||Abraham Lewin, Diary from the Warsaw Ghetto, publ. JHI 2016||19|
|56||Władysław Dov Kornblum, The Last Branch, pub. Ypsylon Warsaw 2020||17|
|57||Simche Poliakewicz, In the shadow of Treblinka (online access www.sokolow.jewish.pl/simche-poliakewicz/w-cieniu-treblinki)||17|
|58||CRARG (Czestochowa-Radomsko Area Research Group) finds, translates, types, and organizes databases of records from the late 1700s through the mid 1900s. www.crarg.org. (Czestochowa-Radomsko Area Research Group) – www.crarg.org||16|
|59||Anka Grupińska, Always around. Conversations with the soldiers of the Warsaw Ghetto, ed. Twój Styl 2000||16|
|60||Shalom Foundation – website www.zydzipolscy.pl, run by this Foundation||15|
|61||Website constituting the community museum of Jews from Białystok and the region: On-line museum of the Jews of Bialystok and the region.||15|
|62||The family website www.wikitree.com||15|
|63||Black Year… Black Years… – edited by Wiktoria Śliwowska, publ. Association of Children of the Holocaust in Poland, Warsaw 1996||14|
|64||The Book of Częstochowa – translation of The Book of Częstochowa - translation of Sefer Czenstochow. https://www.czestochowajews.org/history/yizkor-books. Zbigniew Grządzielski, Jewish Education in Częstochowa Between the Wars (A Survey of the Local Sources), [in:] www.czestochowajews.org||14|
|65||Tadeusz Obremski, Among the Poisoned Knives. Notes from the ghetto and occupied Warsaw, ed. Association Center for Research on the Extermination of Jews, 2018||14|
|66||Passages of Memory Foundation, cultivating the multicultural heritage of Tomaszów Mazowiecki – The Foundation Spaces of Memory was established in 2016 as a space of dialogue around the multicultural heritage of Tomaszów Mazowiecki. The Foundation aims to initiate and support cultural and educational activities leading to the advancement of knowledge of the large and rich local history. It encourages attitudes of openness and mutual acceptance. It aims to become a place of creative ventures in the field of education and publishing.||14|
|67||Irena Birnbaum, Non omnis moriar, ed. Czytelnik 1982||14|
|68||Oral History Archive – a collection of reports created by the Archives collected by the Karta Centre, available on website www.karta.org.pl. Center, available at www.audiohistoria.pl.||14|
|69||“Gazeta Otwocka”, special edition August 2012. The fate of Otwock Jews||13|
|70||Books of Remembrance of Jewish Communities, ed. Andrzej Trzciński, Adam Kopciowski, Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska ed. UMCS Publishing House of the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University Lublin 2014||13|
|71||Ita Dimant, My part of life, ed. Twój Styl 2001||13|
|72||Władysław Bartoszewski, Zofia Lewinówna, This one is from my homeland, ed. Znak 2013||13|
|73||Virtual Shtetl – the website of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews – Virtual Shtetl – a website created by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, available on website www.sztetl.org.pl.||13|
|74||Central Judaica Database, which provides digital images of Judaica from many Polish museums, archives and private collections – Central Judaica Database providing digital images of Judaica from many Polish museums, archives and private collections.||12|
|75||Suzanna Ejbuszyc, Memory is our home, ed. Prószyński i Ska 2016||12|
|76||Oral testimony of Henryka Urbańska. – a private person||11|
|77||Jankiel Wiernik, The Year in Treblinka, pub. Komisja Koordynacyjna Warsaw 1944||11|
|78||Relacja ustna złożona przez Janinę Winawer-Szczukę. – a private person||10|
 Karel Unger and Richard Glazar (pen name of Goldschmid)
 Books of memory were written after World War II among the Jews scattered in the Diaspora to commemorate the Jewish communities that had suffered the Holocaust.
 Testimony of Jankiel Wiernik, AAN Delegatura 202-II-29.
 Widuj: Jewish prayer, confession of sins.