For years, Allen Rosenberg, a real estate developer from Hewlett Bay Park, has had a nagging thought: What if a first or second cousin survived the Holocaust and he didn’t know it?According to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, founded in 1951 to negotiate Holocaust reparations, more than 500,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors are believed to be alive.
Maybe my cousin was placed in a displaced person’s camp on the other side of Germany or in Poland,” said Mr. Rosenberg, who is 45.
As far as he knows, Mr. Rosenberg said, his father, who went into a hospital in Hamburg, Germany, with tuberculosis right after World War II and died in 1988, was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. Still, he said, “there is that slim chance.”
Until recently, Mr. Rosenberg could do no more than wonder. Then he learned of the DNA Shoah Project, which seeks to reunite families torn apart by the Holocaust. Shoah is the Hebrew word for Holocaust.
The nonprofit project is asking survivors, their children and grandchildren to provide a DNA sample to help build a genetic database of Jewish Holocaust survivors and their immediate descendants. The database may eventually be made available to European forensic experts attempting to identify remains of Holocaust victims.
Project co-founder Syd Mandelbaum of Long Island is looking for any trace of his grandfather Shlomo Barber; age 42 in 1942, he disappeared as a slave laborer in Germany. Mandelbaum's other three grandparents were murdered at Auschwitz.
Since the project began three years ago, some 1,000 DNA samples have been collected, but that 10,000 samples are needed for the database to be "statistically significant," and start producing hits.
Samples are collected using two cotton brushes to scrape the inside of a participant’s cheeks for 30 seconds. Request kits at DNAShoah.org or call (866) 897-1150.
Mandelbaum is a scientist with genetic and DNA research background who headed the American team using DNA sequencing in the 1990s disproving Anna Anderson's claim of being the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas II of Russia.
After sets of nearly three dozen remains of what may have been Holocaust victims were found in Germany in 2005, Mr. Mandelbaum said, he learned that no DNA database of Holocaust victims existed. With the help of Michael Hammer, the head of a genetics analysis lab at the University of Arizona, the DNA ShoahRead the complete story at the link above.
Project was born.