Millions of Holocaust records are now available for free online for the first time

Ancestry.com

Knowing more about where you’re from and the history of your family via an ancestral DNA test is becoming increasingly popular. Stories like the one of Walter Gordy and Mark Tolson, friends who discovered they were brothers via a DNA test, show just one of the reasons why so many people try out these kits.

If you have relatives who lived through the Holocaust, though, knowing your roots has special significance. Now, a partnership between Ancestry and the Arolsen Archives, which has collected information about 17.5 million victims and survivors of the Nazi regime, will make accessing the archive’s records free of charge.

Getty Images | Christopher Furlong
Getty Images | Christopher Furlong

Ancestry will offer these through their new Holocaust Remembrance Collection. Ancestry has digitized millions of Holocaust records and images from Arolsen that are now available to the public permanently — even if you’re not a member of Ancestry.com.

Digitizing records like the one below have made it much easier to search documents in the new collection:

Ancestry.com

The collection includes passenger lists of displaced persons bound for Africa, Asia and elsewhere in Europe from 1946-1971, as well as registration lists of persecuted foreigners, stateless persons and German individuals from 1939-1947.

Ancestry is also giving the digitized records back to Arolsen and other organizations that maintain archives on the Holocaust. “Copies of the indexed records will also be donated to Arolsen Archives and to the 11-nation International Commission of digital copyholders of the archives including Yad Vashem in Israel and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., to post on their website as well,” Ancestry says in their press release about the initiative.

Ancestry says access to these high-demand records previously required manual requests for document copies that often took time to locate and provide. Now, anyone will be able to view Arolsen’s Holocaust and Nazi persecution archives to search for their relatives.

“We are proud to be working with Ancestry on this important project. They have been a respectful and trusted partner in helping to break down some of the barriers for people seeking information about their families,” Floriane Azoulay, director of Arolsen Archives, says in the press release. “With the number of Holocaust survivors dwindling every day, it is more important than ever to ensure these records live on.”

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These newly released records will also be a part of AncestryK12, a no-cost program for kindergarten through 12th-grade schools that includes access to content from Fold3, a collection of U.S. military records; Newspapers.com, online home of more than 216 million pages of historical newspapers; and the U.S. collection of Ancestry.

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