French Jews Want Their Old Names Back

An article in the July 18, 2010 Los Angeles Times related how many of post Holocaust-era Jews and Tunisian Jews that immigrated to France changed their surnames to sound more French and today their descendants want to change their names back to their original sur names to reflect family origins. French Civil Code states family names can't be reverted once changed to French sounding names.

To read more about this, click here.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-large and
Chairperson, Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

More on Canadian Government Abondoning the Long Census Form

I recently posted on this forum about Statistics Canada abandoning the long-form for the 2011 census and turning over to the National Household Survey (NHS) a voluntary long form without the "check-off" question for authorizing release of the individual census questionnaire in 92 years (the required length of time by Canada for releasing such information).

There has been a number Canadians who are concerned about this turn of events and in today's Canada Globe and Mail Newspaper there is an article on the resignation by the Chief statistician of Statistics Canada, Munir Sheikh, as a rebuke to the government stating that the voluntary form can not replace
the previous mandatory long form.

To read more about this, click here

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-large
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

IRS (USA) List of Organizations at risk of losing their tax-exempt status

Many of the (USA) JGSs have 501-C3 status- either individually or under the IAJGS umbrella. An article in a local newspaper this week alerted that many non-profits that have not done their required reporting (due May 17, 2010) for three consecutive years will automatically lose their tax-exempt status and the IRS is providing a one-time relief for organizations that have not satisfied their required filing requirements .

A 2006 law required nonprofit organizations with receipts of less than $25,000 to file tax returns for the first time in 2007. If charities failed to file for three years, they were going to lose their tax-exempt status.

The list of delinquent non-profits is listed on the IRS website and may be accessed by clicking here.

Organizations that were required to file Form 990 or Form 990-PF are not eligible to take advantage of this one-time IRS filing relief to bring them into compliance.

The article appeared in the Ventura County Star and can be read here.

Even if you are under the IAJGS umbrella for the 501-C3 your JGS must file its own IRS forms annually.

(JGSCV is under the IAJGS 501-C3 umbrella and we file the post card every year since the law was enacted...It takes very little time can be done on- line and only requires your federal EIN, submission form is 990-N, and year of reporting and you get an automated reply by e-mail for your records)

If you have questions, please do not ask me, ask your JGSs financial consultant/accountant or the IRS.

Jan Meisels Allen
President, JGS Conejo Valley and Ventura County

New York State Imposes Sales Tax on Genealogical Services

With governments suffering from revenue shortfalls- this is a new revenue "enhancement" by the state of New York (USA). Those who deal in information services must, as of 1 September 2010, begin to charge, collect and remit sales tax on their products. Please see page 2 for genealogical services being included. If you have questions about whether you need to impose a tax for your genealogical services, -- including telephonic /telephony etc types of communication to provide your information, \if you need to register to collect the tax, please contact your tax advisor or the state to New York State Department of Taxation and Finance ( I am not able to answer your tax questions or whether your specific services are covered under this imposed tax. Please read the 6 page memo in its entirety.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-large
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

66th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising

Posted by Ann Rabinowitz

Miasto Ruin

Due to a note from reader Hadassah Lipsius, Translation and Data Entry Coordinator for JRI-Poland, I was made aware of the 66th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising and the new film which has been made in its memory entitled “Miasto Ruin” (City of Ruin). It is directed by Oscar nominated Tomasz Baginski and will have its premier on August 1, 2010 at the Warsaw Rising Museum.

The depiction of an Allied B-24 Liberator circling Warsaw and recording the ruins of it are a remarkable accomplishment utilizing modern 3D technology. The trailer is well-worth watching and learning more about the film .

Watch a trailer of the film below.

Note on the Clinton Wedding Article

When we first thought of the idea of an article on the Clinton wedding, it was within the context of generating publicity for JewishGen (i.e. we thought a family tree of the groom would be noteworthy). However, upon further consideration, JewishGen in no way means to focus discussion on the topic of intermarriage, nor become involved in such matters at all, and we have decided not to post the article.

Gruesome charges detailed against suspected Nazi

From the AP:

The world's third most wanted Nazi suspect, who allegedly participated in the murder of more than 430,000 Jews at the Belzec death camp, was involved in the entire killing process: From taking victims from trains to pushing them into gas chambers to throwing their corpses into mass graves, according to court documents.

A state court in the western city of Bonn released new details Thursday of last week's indictment against Samuel Kunz, an 88-year-old former ministry employee who has lived undisturbed in the village of Wachtberg outside Bonn for many years.

"The accused was deployed in all areas of the camp," court spokesman Matthias Nordmeyer told The Associated Press. The court's statement describes in gruesome detail some of the crimes the suspected former death camp guard allegedly committed in occupied Poland from January 1942 to July 1943.

In its statement, the court described the deadly routine at Belzec, claiming that Kunz supposedly participated as a camp guard in all areas of the Nazis' organized mass murder of Poland's Jewry.

After the victims arrived by train at the death camp, they were told that before they could start working they had to be deloused and take a shower, the statement said, describing the terrifying killing process that by now is well known.

"Threatening them with pistols, whips and wooden clubs, the victims were told to hurry up. ... They had to undress ... the women had their hair cut off, and then first the men, then women and children were pushed into the gas chambers," the statement said.

After the victims were killed, "the corpses were searched for gold and valuables and then thrown into prepared graves."

Click here for the entire article and here for more information on the Belzec death camp.

NBA Basketball Star is Jewish?

According to Haaretz, New York Knicks basketball star Amar'e Stoudemire is apparently on his way to Israel for a voyage of discovery after learning he has Jewish roots. "On the flight to Israel. This is going to be a great trip," announced the power forward, who plays in the NBA for the New York Nicks, via the micro-blogging site Twitter.

On a later Twitter Post, he said:
"Jerusalem is a beautiful city, I'm at a cafe eating a late lunch. I'm learning Hebrew by the min. Keep up !! Shalom."

According to an Army Radio report, Stoudemire plans to spend time in Israel learning Hebrew, having recently learned he has a Jewish mother. "The holy land. Learn about it," he wrote, adding "ze ha'halom sheli" – Hebrew for 'this is my dream'.

Click here for the entire article and be sure to check back often for updates.

ShtetLinks Update: Jewish agricultural colonies in Ukraine

The following update was posted by Chaim Freedman on his extensive ShtetLinks page devoted to Jewish agricultural colonies in Ukraine:

Considerable material has been added to the site over the last year. With the growing accessibility of Russian, Belorussian and Ukrainian archives previously undiscovered material comes to light. Descendants of colonists, living in the former Soviet Union, are extracting material and developing their own sites.

First are two Russian books which contain extremely valuable information about the Ekaterinoslav colonies:

The books are the result of a very detailed census of the colonies made by Uleinikov in 1890 and Kankrin in 1893. Each book has an introduction with a general overview and statistics. The authors are quite biased - Uleinikov is a supporter of Jewish agricultural colonies and Kankrin is a severe critic. The most valuable feature of these books is the detailed census of the colonists' households. The books have also a brief overview of each colony with summary of history and facilities. Kankrin's book has detailed house/street handwritten plans of the ten colonies he studied, including sketches of the types of buildings.

Uleinikov has complete lists of heads of all families (surname, name and patronymic) in 17 colonies of Ekaterinoslav Province, Aleksandovsk and Mariupol Uyezds, with detailed record of family composition, military service, type of house, agricultural implements, livestock, land and its subdivision within family and notes about profession etc.

Kankrin studied in a similar fashion 10 colonies in Aleksandrovsk Uyezd and has even more information about colonists' families. He was obsessed with the idea that colonists in reality remained artisans and not worked much as agriculturalists.

Interview of Ukrainian residents of former Jewish colony Novozaltopol by Father Patrick Desbois; a horrifying account which demonstrates who actually carried out the massacre of nearly 800 Jews


Photographs from the St. Petersburg Film archive and World ORT Photographic archive taken of many colonies in 1904 and 1922 showing public buildings such as schools, synagogues, municipal offices, and farmhouses.

Nayzlatopler Rayon
"Nayzlatopler Rayon" (Novozlatopol Region) an account of the Sovietized colonies after the Revolution and Civil War.

Destruction of Jewish Tradition under the Soviet Administration
"Destruction of Jewish Tradition under the Soviet Administration"
: An article assessing the affect of Sovietization on the destruction of Jewish cultural and religious life with particular reference to the role of the Yevsekzia.

Revision lists
Revision lists from colonies Zelenopole and Mezhirech, 1850 and 1858.
Original Russian lists:

Memoirs of Grafskoy, 1907-1921
Memoirs of Grafskoy 1907-1921by the son of a rabbi of the colony include description of life on the colony and the reaction to the pogroms during the Russian Civil War which took place after the Revolution.

Prenumeranten Lists
Prenumeranten Lists (the list of subscribers)
from two books published in 1911 which include many residents of the colonies.

Jewish Agriculturalists
Excerpts from Jewish Agriculturalists 1807- 1887 (V. Nikitin):
Links/Other Resources

Thanks go to those who extracted, translated, processed and contributed to the acquisition of this material:

Bernshtam, Pavel
Comisarow, Mel
Farber-Sherman, Mitja
Freedman, Chaim
Giller, Lisa.
Govor, Elena
Heffler, Max
Komissarouk, Joseph
Pasik, Yakov
Ronn, Michoel

Grave Mistakes

As many of you are already aware, hundreds of unmarked and mismarked graves have been discovered at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC.

On a related note, an alert subscriber to JewishGen's Discussion Groups informed us that the online Museum of Family History has a discussion of errors between cemetery records and the corresponding gravestones on their website located here (scroll down past the Mt. Zion Cemetery entry).

Finding Jewish Family Records in Croatia

In response to an earlier post on the blog (see here), we have received requests for information on Jewish records in Croatia.

For your convenience, we are reproducing the article entitled "Finding Jewish Family Records in Croatia" from our "InfoFile" section on the JewishGen website.

Finding Jewish Family Records in Croatia
By Ed Zwieback

Searching for records in Croatia has been limited by the lack of activity for this area. There are Croatian genealogy websites that can be found via and

The Mormon Family History Library (FHL) began microfilming records in Zagreb in March 1985. They have acquired over 2,500 microfilms in Croatia, including Jewish records for 15 towns. These films are listed in a recent issue of Avotaynu (Summer 1999, Vol. XV, no. 2, page 5), as well as in the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC).

A good article on "Croatian Research at the Family History Library" by Thomas K. Edlund can be found on the web site. An updated and expanded version of this article, entitled "A Beginner's Guide to Croatian Research", by Thomas K. Edlund, can be found in the FEEFHS Quarterly, VII:1-2 (Spring/Summer 1999), pp. 7-37.

Croatia has a Central State Archive, located in the capital, Zagreb. The Hrvatski Državni Arhiv (National Archives of Croatia) is the main depository of old church records for many parts of the country.

Any birth and death records older than 1860 (some up to the 1880’s) were turned over to the 12 Croatian Regional (historical) Archives (DRŽAVNI ARHIV …). The record-ending dates may vary from one regional archive to the next. The Regional Archives are located at: Varaždin, Zagreb, Bjelovar, Pazin, Rijeka, Karlovac, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, Sisak, Slavonski Brod, and Osijek.

In 1945, all birth, marriage, and death records held by churches in Croatia were turned over to the civil authorities and were deposited with the City Register Offices ('opc'ina'; MATCNI URED …). These include Jewish records. There are 400 municipalities within 21 counties (županija) in Croatia. Since Zagreb is large, there would be many such offices located within the city. Addresses of the City Register Offices for post-1900 records are difficult to locate from the Internet.

Croatian records have greater linguistic diversity than for most other geographic regions. Croatian, Slovene, Serbian, German, Hungarian, Latin or Italian are possible languages used.
I obtained very good results when I sent an inquiry letter (in English) to the Regional Archive of Varazdin, asking for vital records. The Varazdin archivist has provided copies of several marriage, death, and census records for my family (1879-1930s). The Varazdin archivist also searched the City Book of Inhabitants, 1930s, and a Record of Conscription of Jews sent to concentration camps, 1941. I have used the FHL film No. 1791974, "Zagreb Jewish Births and Deaths 1858-1904", and the film is very easy to read.

The Jewish Community of Zagreb may be able to help with family records. They have furnished me some very useful information.

Some Postal Mail Addresses:

  • Central State Archive:
    HRVATSKI DRŽAVNI ARHIV Marulicev trg 21 10000 Zagreb
  • Croatian State Archives of Zagreb:
    DRŽAVNI ARHIV ZAGREB Opatica 29 10000 Zagreb
  • Croatian State Archives of Varazdin:
    DRŽAVNI ARHIV VARAZDIN Trstenjakova 7 42000 Varazdin
  • A Zagreb City Register Office:
    MATICINI URED CENTAR Ilica 25 10000 Zagreb
  • The Jewish Community of Zagreb:
    Zidovska opcina Zagreb Palmoticeva 16 10000 Zagreb


  • Those Who Died in the Jasenovec Death Camp during the Holocaust: JASENOVEC, Zrtve Rata Prema Podacima Statistickog Zavoda Jugoslavije, (War Victims According to the Yugoslavia Statistical Institute) 1998, published by the BOSNJACKI INSTITUT, Zurich & Sarajevo, ISBN 3-905211-87-4.
  • Jews of Yugoslavia 1941-45, Victims of Genocide and Freedom Fighters, Dr. sci. Jasa Romano, Jewish Historical Museum-Belgrade, 1980, Published by the Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia, Belgrade.

The Hell of Polish Jewry

Chronicling the Holocaust from inside the Ghetto. Click here for the full article.

(hat tip: EK)

Croatian WWII camp was a show of sadism

Israeli President Shimon Peres says Croatia's World War II concentration camp was a demonstration of "sheer sadism" and that Iran's president, who has denied the Holocaust, should visit it.

A memorial honors the thousands of Jews, Serbs, Gypsies and anti-fascist Croats who died there at the hands of Croatia's then pro-Nazi regime.

Click here for the full article.

Journal of a Lifetime

From the Los Angeles Jewish Journal

This year’s 30th annual International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) brings to Los Angeles an organization that helped me during the years I spent researching my own family’s history for my book “How Will I Know Where I’m Going, If I Don’t Know Where I’ve Been? A Genealogical Journey.”

I started my book as an amateur — with no experience nor even much interest in genealogy before I started researching — and ended up being able to trace the roots of my family back to the mid-1800s. In the process, I discovered dozens of new cousins — some completely uninterested in my quest, others eager to get involved.

I joined, a Web site with thousand of databases, research tools and resources for starting out on the genealogical quest. I began conducting searches for the surname Ruderman and for the Russian towns that may have been Grysk.

Click here for the entire article.

Dancing, laughing at Auschwitz: who has the right?

From the AP:

Who has the right to dance at Auschwitz, to make light of the Holocaust, to shoot videos set amid cattle cars and gas chambers?

A home video that has gone viral on the Internet showing a Holocaust survivor dancing at Auschwitz and other Holocaust sites to the disco classic "I Will Survive" with his daughter and grandchildren has brought such questions to the fore.

To some, images of Adolek Kohn and his family shuffling off-beat at such hallowed places is an insult to those who perished; to others a defiant celebration of survival. The incongruous juxtapositions have struck many viewers as funny and chilling at the same time.

Whether the comedic effects were intentional or not, they bring a new dimension to questions about how far taboos can be tested in an age when comedians like Larry David and Sacha Baron Cohen find rich fodder for their jokes in the Holocaust.

The fact that the video only gained massive attention when neo-Nazi groups spread it online further complicates the question.

"If the humor is meant to cheapen, then it's bad," said Raul Teitelbaum, 79, who survived the Nazi camp at Bergen-Belsen. "But if the humor is simply a human reaction to tragedy, it's all right. It's complicated to do it, but a successful humorist can pull it off."

Making light of Nazi cruelty goes back at least as far as Charlie Chaplin's biting 1940 parody of Adolf Hitler and anti-Semitism in "The Great Dictator." But it takes on new implications in the age of Facebook and YouTube, when amateur videos like Kohn's can quickly reach millions of people worldwide — and when it can be hard to distinguish between sincere acts of remembrance and publicity stunts.

One thing is clear even 65 years after World War II: a playful approach to Holocaust memory is always bound to offend someone, and it's really only acceptable coming from survivors or other Jews intending no offense.

In Israel, Holocaust jokes have long been a staple of the country's black humor — and the Auschwitz dance video has made little impression there possibly because it doesn't seem all that unusual. But the video has been big news in Germany, which is still grappling with the nation's guilt.

Michael Wolffsohn, a German Jewish historian at the Bundeswehr Munich, called it "tasteless" and questioned Korman's motives. "It is simply embarrassing self-promotion," he said.

Click here for the entire article.

Women’s Role in Holocaust May Exceed Old Notions

From the NY TIMES:

Amid the horrors of the Holocaust, the atrocities perpetrated by a few brutal women have always stood out, like aberrations of nature.
Female guards, like these with the SS at Bergen-Belsen in 1945, constituted up to 10 percent of concentration camps’ personnel.

There were notorious camp guards like Ilse Koch and Irma Grese. And lesser known killers like Erna Petri, the wife of an SS officer and a mother who was convicted of shooting to death six Jewish children in Nazi-occupied Poland; or Johanna Altvater Zelle, a German secretary accused of child murder in the Volodymyr-Volynskyy ghetto in Nazi-occupied Ukraine.

The Nazi killing machine was undoubtedly a male-dominated affair. But according to new research, the participation of German women in the genocide, as perpetrators, accomplices or passive witnesses, was far greater than previously thought.

Click here for the entire article.

Some Jews in France wish to revert to family names

From the LA Times:

After WWII, officials urged Jewish emigres to change their names to sound more French. Two generations later, Jews are feeling a need to reconnect with their roots.

Click here for the entire article.

World War II Museum Features Animals Of War


Smoky the Yorkshire terrier, Lady Astor the pigeon and a host of horses and mules whose individual stories are lost to history are among war heroes and heroines featured in the latest exhibit at the National World War II Museum.

"Loyal Forces: The Animals of WWII" will run July 22-Oct. 17, featuring the four kinds of animals most often brought into the war, as they were used in all five theaters.

"There was a great love and loyalty between the soldiers and the animals they worked with," said registrar Toni M. Kiser, who created the exhibit with archivist Lindsey Barnes.

The exhibit opener may seem odd to people used to thinking of the Coast Guard as offshore duty in cutters, patrol boats, helicopters and airplanes.

Click here for the entire article.