TORONTO (Oct. 18)
Two Jewish genealogists are compiling a comprehensive list of the roughly 200,000 to 240,000 Jews from Lithuania who perished in the Holocaust.
“We’re going to create a database and hopefully publish a memorial book in a few years,” said Saul Issroff.
Issroff, a semi-retired dermatologist who lives in London, traveled to Lithuania last year and visited about 80 shtetls that once held Jewish populations.
“The names of the people are unknown — they haven’t been collected,” he said. “There are about 250 sites of mass murder recorded in Lithuania, but no one has attempted to make a comprehensive list of the people who were killed.”
Several years ago, Issroff discovered that he had many relatives who perished in the Holocaust.
“This was never discussed in my family. Part of the reason I’m doing this is because I want to find the names of my relatives,” he said.
Both Issroff and his partner in this project, Rose Lerer Cohen, a resident of Jerusalem, were born in South Africa to families that had emigrated there from Lithuania.
To date, they have collected about 80,000 names with the help of several Jewish institutions, including Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Other names came from the Israeli-based Association of Lithuanian Jews.
The pair has also extracted names from a collection of about 20 Yizkor, or memorial, books that have been published on Lithuania locales, as well as from the Litvak SIG, a group of genealogical researchers focusing on Lithuania.
The state-run Jewish museum in the Lithuanian capital of Vilna informed them about a census done in the ghetto of Vilna, as the town was then known, in 1943 that contains about 15,300 names. A list taken in the Kovno Ghetto added 14,000 more names, while a survey of the Siauliai Ghetto produced another 5,000 names.
Another potential source of names is the Soviet Extraordinary Commission Into German War Crimes, a postwar attempt by the Soviets to document Nazi atrocities.
“We’ve also found KGB lists, some of them from Lithuania,” Issroff said. “We believe there are a lot more that we don’t have access to.”
To help supply names for the project, contact Dr. Saul Issroff, 29c Elsworthy Rd., London NW3 3BT; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Israel, contact Rose Lerer Cohen, P.O. Box 11456, Jerusalem 91114; E-mail: email@example.com