Uncovering a Family’s History

Sol Finkelstein had no idea what happened to his father.

In 1945, just days before liberation at Mauthausen concentration camp, Finkelstein and his father were separated, and Finkelstein never saw him again. For more than six decades, Finkelstein didn't know his father's fate, and he wrestled with guilt, worrying that he could have saved him.

Finkelstein's son Joseph Finkelstein contacted the Museum in hopes of finding information about his grandfather. Museum staff were able to discover the date and place of his death. It turned out that, unlike most Holocaust victims, Sol Finkelstein's father had received a proper burial. Thanks to the Museum, Finkelstein's family was able to visit his father's grave in Austria.

But the story doesn't end there. After learning that Finkelstein had no photos of his father, Museum staff searched further and found an identification card with a picture. For the first time since he was a teenager, Finkelstein saw his father's face. "Yes, that's my father," he whispered.

The Finkelstein family is just one of thousands who contact the Museum every year looking for information about what happened to their loved ones during the Holocaust. The World Memory Project, a partnership with Ancestry.com, will help make this kind of information more searchable for survivors and their families.

These efforts create the chance for family connections that transcend place and time. And the impact, as it was for the Finkelsteins, is often life-changing.

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Photo: Sol Finkelstein looks at a photograph of his father uncovered by Museum staff. US Holocaust Memorial Museum