Identifinders International, in collaboration with 23andMe and Missing-Identity.net, announces a pilot study to help child survivors of the Holocaust to recover their birth identities. It is hoped that autosomal DNA testing will allow these survivors to discover family connections that would otherwise be gone forever.
Of the 1,600,000 Jewish children who lived in Europe before World War II, only 100,000 survived the Holocaust. Most child survivors were hidden children, shuttered away in attics, cellars, convents or in villages or farms. Many of these survived thanks to the efforts of Jews and Christians alike who risked their lives to conceal the identity of a hidden child who had been entrusted to their care by desperate parents.
In the chaos that reigned after Europe was liberated, survivors desperately hoped to be reunited with family members. Restoring children to their families was especially difficult –many parents perished in the camps, children were often too young to know their own names, and some children had been moved countless times to keep them safe.
Decades after the Holocaust, there are hundreds of child survivors who have been unable to discover anything about their origins. Adopted family members have died, memories of those who are left have faded. Documentation has been mined for every clue that could lead to relatives. Many survivors have been unable to even start a search without knowing their family names. Nevertheless, these child survivors have not given up their quest.
In establishing our study, Identifinders International recognizes that autosomal DNA testing is probably the last chance for child survivors to recover their birth identities and reunite with family members. There is potential through autosomal testing, not only to discover relatives who survived the war and who now live scattered in various parts of the world, but also to discover relatives who emigrated from Europe before the war, who have no knowledge of their extended families who were left behind.
The website www.missing-identity.net features about 80 child survivors searching for their identities. We are testing two of these survivors. Pnina Gutman was chosen because of her proactive approach to researching her origins; Bronia Fudali was selected because the circumstances of her separation from her birth mother have precluded any meaningful investigation outside of DNA analysis.
As a teenager in Israel,Pnina had fleeting memories of Polish family, Christian holidays, dark wood church pews and a shimmering golden altar. She also recalled living in a children’s institution, and being introduced to her parents as Basia. Though only six years old then, she remembers wondering, “Why must I be introduced to my own parents?” Read more…
In June or July 1942 a Jewish woman was either captive or hiding with her baby girl on the train station in Rozwadow in Poland. The
infant was hungry and crying, so her mother asked for milk from a Polish couple who happened to be passing through. The Polish man brought milk for the baby. Then the Jewish mother asked if they would want to take the baby as their own because she could not keep it. Read more…
Their stories along with many others appear on the Missing Identity website at www.missing-identity.net
Our program offers autosomal testing accompanied by genealogical research as the last hope for Pnina, Bronia, and countless other Survivors to discover their original identities and to be reunited at last with long lost family members.