Monday, November 12, 2012

Two DNA Studies for Holocaust Survivors

During World War II thousands of Jewish children were separated from their families, often placed with non-Jewish families to hide them.  Many of these children who survived were very young and had little to no information about their birth families.  Two DNA projects are trying to remedy that and reunite child survivors with relatives.

The DNA Shoah Project is building a database of DNA from Holocaust survivors and their descendants to try to reunite families separated by the Holocaust (Shoah in Hebrew).  The project's aims are to match relatives, provide Shoah children with information about their biological families, and eventually assist in the forensic identification of Holocaust-era remains.  The project also teaches about the Holocaust in schools.  The DNA Shoah Project seeks DNA submissions from prewar immigrants, survivors, and second- and third-generation family members.  There is no cost to participate.

The second project is a collaboration between Identifinders International, 23andMe, and Missing-Identity.net.  Their pilot study is using autosomal DNA testing to try to help Holocaust child survivors recover their birth identities.  They are starting with a focus on two individuals who have little chance otherwise of learning about their birth families.

Though their approaches are different -- creating a general database of information versus focusing on specific individuals searching for family -- each of these projects is extremely important.  Holocaust survivors are at a minimum 67 years old, and many are significantly older.  Many of them pass away without ever finding that missing piece of information that could connect them with other relatives who survived.  These studies have the potential to help them find information about the families they were separated from in World War II and connect with living relatives.

8 comments:

  1. Hi Janice, I just contacted them to find out how I can share the DNA results I have on file at Family Tree DNA. Would you post how that can be done for all to see?

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  2. Linda,
    If you have the information, I will be happy to post it.
    Janice

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  3. In this world if anything that can clearly distinguish you from others or proves your identity is nothing but DNA testing, so whether it is in case of forensic lab requirement or anything research it becomes really important. Thanksssss……

    DNA for Immigration

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    1. Interesting. I didn't know DNA was being used in immigration.

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  4. It would be great to learn if a similar DNA project existed for survivors of Spain's Civil War. Hundreds of thousands of children were sent to other countries. In 2001, after more than 65 years, we found biological family (maternal side). Now that my father died (2010), I can still continue searching because he left behind his DNA. mcorrales@svc.edu

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    1. That is an excellent idea. I have not heard that such a project exists. Since the Spanish Civil War was earlier than World War II, even if only by a few years, there must be even fewer survivors left at this point. You are fortunate that you have your father's DNA to continue the search.

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  5. Thanks for this great post. Unfortunately, a lot of the links on the DNAshoah website are broken, including the contacts and "get involved" links. Do you have any idea if the project is still active, and if so, how my family would be able to participate?

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    1. I don't know what is wrong with the site. Pretty much all the links are bad, but the home page still exists. I have not heard that the project is dead, so they may be having a server problem. I would try contacting them at the e-mail address on the bottom of the home page, info@dnashoah.org, or by phone at (866) 897-1150 (toll-free in the U.S. and Canada) or (520) 626-6203.

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