Of Testimonies and Brick Walls and JewishGen Success stories #general
I have found over the years reaching out to this community to solve the most
obscure puzzles, more often than not, there is someone who has a special
knowledge and rises to solve the unsolvable problem. So, I am now reaching
out as many have before me.
A person contacted me because of my interest in the town of Subacius Lithuania
vis a vis Jewish Gen. They had reached their own brick wall in their family
I had been far "luckier" in so far as there have been records for my family
branch taking my journey back to the late 1700s in Lithuania. I say lucky
because as many of you Litvak researchers know, Lithuanian records can be
sparse just at the moment when you need them most.
After some weeks we determined we might be just one generation away >from
linking her family to mine, i.e. our common branch.
I proposed she take a DNA test. So she did and the results indicated we were
indeed related to the degree where we thought our common link might be. Her
two brothers then took the test.
Her father was born in Subacius Lithuania in 1911. In that same year his
father passed away. The story goes, he had gone to America hoping to
eventually bring the rest of the family over, but he fell ill and died. There
is no found record for him yet in the United States.
After the outbreak of the first world war the family was expelled >from
Lithuania and did not return until the early 1920's and when Lithuania became
a sovereign state. Through passport records that still exist, we learned her
father with his mother's help and witnesses >from their town had to appeal for
and prove his citizenship. He was eventually successful and received his
internal passport papers.
In 1939 Lithuania lost its short lived sovereignty, becoming a vassal state
under the Soviet Union vis a vis the signing of the Hitler-Stalin pact. By
the summer of 1941, German forces arrived in Lithuania and her father was
forced into the Kowno Ghetto with his wife and young daughter. They had
married in 1935. (There is a record for that) (There is no record yet found
for the birth of the daughter). Through all of the horror that was the Kowno
Ghetto, they survived.
In the summer of 1944 her father was placed on a transport with his wife and
now 8/9 year old daughter. The transport stopped at KZ-Stutthof where his
wife, and we presume also his daughter, were detained along with 280 other
Jews >from Kowno. After Stutthof, her father was transported to Dachau and
specifically the sub camp Kaufering I. In the summer of 1945, her father was
free again. Approximately one month after her arrival at Stuffhof, his wife
was sent to Auschwitz, where thus far, there is no record of her there. At
this moment we presume she went straight to her death upon arrival. Of the
daughter, still no record.
While recovering at the DP Hospital in the St. Otillien monastery near
Landsberg am Lech, Germany, her father met his second wife, also a survivor
of Dachau, originally >from Poland. They had their first child who died a
few days after birth and is buried at St. Otillien. They then had a second
child, a boy. Though their first choice was to go to Palestine, they were,
in 1949, resettled in Australia. After resettlement they had two more
children, a girl and a boy. It is the girl who has become my correspondent
in this story vis a vis Jewish gen and our common town Subacious.
So, for the lack of a record, she and her brothers take a DNA test. Her
results come back first indicating we are indeed cousins of a kind.
Strangely though, we share as a common cluster, DNA relationships with some
of my "other" cousins >from another family branch (also originally Lithuanian)
and also with a dear friend of hers >from childhood in Australia. Her dear
friend's father, also resettled after the war, lived with her parents for a
time, then went to Israel where he married and then returned to Australia.
The results for her brothers come back and they show she is the half sibling
of one, her brother born as she was in Australia, and between the two of them
show they are not related to their older brother, the one born in Germany at
In recent years there was a ceremony held at St. Otillien celebrating the
many babies born there to Jewish parents after the war. When the first Jewish
baby was born it is said that Jewish American soldiers came to the bris and
wept over both the sadness and the joy. 100's of Jewish babies were born at
St. Otillien, so much life coming after so much death. On this occasion, the
son of a good family friend who was also born at St. Otillien, invited the
oldest brother in this family to go with him to attend this ceremony. Their
expenses were paid by St. Otillien such was the importance of the occasion.
There is a picture of her father and this family friend taken at St. Otillien.
The friend has a remarkable resemblance to her older brother. She doesn't
see it, but somehow I do.
You can imagine quite easily the difficulties these results have created. I
theorize that some time between her father's time in the Kowno Ghetto and
his eventual release >from the work camps at Dachau, he became sterile. He
met his wife at the displaced persons camp and a very special place called
St. Otillien where weekly a new birth was celebrated in a long list of
births numbering well over 400 Jewish babies after the horrors suffered by
their parents during the Shoah. My theory is, her father and mother wanted
a family and willingly sought a surrogate, first at St. Otillien and then
again in Australia. Making such a thing public today would not be unusual,
but in the late 1940's and early 1950's, one can only guess how unusual that
might have been. More DNA tests are being performed.
However, the one fact that needs the most finding is: some proof, her father
was made sterile either by the Nazi's or in some other way. I have found
over the years now that I became a Genealogy researcher, there is always the
general story, like the story of the Shoah in all of its chapters and
versions, but it is not until one digs down into an archive with a tweezer
that the real story emerges in the way of pulling a needle >from a haystack.
So, perhaps there is at least one person on this email list who has
encountered an archive as yet not discovered by me, that will have that
needle to answer this question regarding my cousin's father's sterility,
and for that family, bring them peace regarding this question. They will
never lose the true family they had or their growing up with the parents
who parented them, but there is now something missing for them, and maybe
this is the thing that can make them whole as well as do service to the
heroic couple they knew as mom and dad. So, if **you** are out there and
can help with this brick wall of mine, please then reach out to me. I
will be grateful, as will they, for the help.
MODERATOR NOTE: This story brings up many questions about evaluating DNA results.
Please keep discussion on this discussion group to other types of genealogical
records. For further discussion of DNA testing, please carry on at the DNA