World Archives Project: Sharing One Victim’s Story

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Thanks to your participation in the World Memory Project, Holocaust survivors and their families are discovering missing chapters of their history and learning the truth about their loved ones’ fate.

To help illustrate the impact that making this information more available can have, I wanted to share with you the story of Sol Finkelstein.

Sol and his father, Jakob, had survived years of forced labor and were imprisoned at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria in the final weeks of World War II. They were separated from each other just three days before the camp was liberated in May 1945, and they never saw each other again. For 63 years, Sol wrestled with guilt and doubts about whether he could have stayed with and helped save his father—until his own son, Joe, asked the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for help in determining when and where his grandfather died.

A Museum staff member was able to locate a document in their archives that listed Jakob Finkelstein’s name and the date and location of his death, along with a grave number. Piecing together this information, they determined that Jakob had indeed survived liberation. He died in a hospital four days later and was buried in Austria.

Grateful for this newly discovered information, Joe wondered whether Museum staff might be able to track down a photograph of Jakob. In a collection of documents from the Radom District, similar to the collection that the World Archives Project community recently finished indexing, a researcher uncovered a registration form with the name Jankiel Finkielsztajn, a similar birth date to Jakob’s, and the names of his parents. In the upper right hand corner of the form, there was a square where a photo would have been attached but the photo itself wasn’t legible. Fortunately, the Museum was able to obtain a facsimile of the original document and the photograph was of much higher quality. Joe gave a copy of it to his father. It was the first time Sol had seen his father’s face since he was 14 years old.

To watch a video about Sol and his family click here.

If you would like to participate in the World Memory Project look for projects starting with USHMM.