SEEK­ING REFUGE OVER­SEAS

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - REFUGEE ANCESTORS -

Those who were lucky enough to stay one step ahead of the Ger­mans, and had the money to keep on the move, may have left a trail of visa ap­pli­ca­tions and im­mi­gra­tion records across Europe. Check­ing the na­tional and lo­cal ar­chives of coun­tries and cities that you be­lieve your an­ces­tors trav­elled through is worth­while, as well as any sur­viv­ing im­mi­gra­tion records for the places where they set­tled.

If mi­grants found them­selves in Nazioc­cu­pied ter­ri­tory, the only means of get­ting out were il­le­gal. Swiss sol­diers in­ter­cepted Jane’s great aunt Michaela and un­cle Aron at the bor­der with France, and an in­tern­ment card was found in the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross Ar­chive in Geneva ( icrc.org/eng/ re­sources/icrc-ar­chives). Th­ese in­dex cards were cre­ated for all civil­ians in­terned in neu­tral Switzer­land, so that the Red Cross could an­swer re­quests for in­for­ma­tion from rel­a­tives.

Many Jewish peo­ple fled to the United States and the YIVO In­sti­tute in New York holds mil­lions of let­ters, manuscripts and early pub­lished works, not only record­ing the ex­pe­ri­ences of im­mi­grants who made it out of Nazi- oc­cu­pied ter­ri­tory, but also about pre-war Jewish cul­ture and records from the War­saw, Lodz and Vilna ghet­tos (see yivoin­sti­tute.org).

Even af­ter peace was de­clared, Jews emerg­ing from bomb-dam­aged hide­outs in Poland tried to join rel­a­tives who had made it over­seas. Jad­wiga Te­mer­son’s ap­pli­ca­tion for a pass­port in 1946 is among pa­pers of the Em­i­gra­tion Depart­ment of the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of Jews in Poland, in the Jewish His­tor­i­cal In­sti­tute, War­saw.

The Wiener Li­brary in Lon­don has thou­sands of refugee fam­ily pa­pers do­nated by im­mi­grants to the UK. An in­ter­ac­tive map of th­ese col­lec­tions is on­line at wiener­li­brary.co.uk/ in­ter­ac­tivemap. The In­ter­na­tional Trac­ing Ser­vice es­tab­lished by the Red Cross in 1943 has an ar­chive at Bad Arolsen in Ger­many and a dig­i­tal copy is search­able at the Wiener Li­brary. To ini­ti­ate a search for records con­cern­ing dis­placed peo­ple, go to wiener­li­brary.co.uk/ In­ter­na­tional-Trac­ing-Ser­vice.

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