October 23, 2007
A good friend from Chicago is visiting me in Amsterdam. Lately we have frequent conversations about his ancestors, many of whom came from Poland, escaping during world war 2. Many more of them did not escape and were sent to their deaths at concentration camps.
As we spoke, I looked over his shoulder at the computer screen.. what I saw was a family tree. The long painstaking process of tracing his Polish roots, which actually spill over into Ukraine and Lithuania. Zooming out and panning around the enormous tree he and his family have laid out, I saw black and white photos of 4 generations of his family.
The tracing of ancestors, especially in this case – the history of a Jewish family in Eastern Europe, is no easy task. Thankfully the internet has given rise to some tools for collectively mapping one’s family. Beyond that I recently learned about the Jewish Gen – a database with hundreds of thousands of records, based on either last name or town of orgin. It includes all the nations of the region that was once encompassed by Hungary.Author : Mark F. Rendeiro