Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Help Celebrate National Volunteer Week!

It's National Volunteer Week, so it seemed like a perfect time to post another collection of research and volunteer projects looking for help.  This time most are looking for assistance in identification or finding relatives.

A woman who was imprisoned in the Gabersdorf labor camp in Czechoslovakia during World War II kept a diary, in which she wrote not only an alternative Passover haggadah but also a list of other women who were at Gabersdorf.  Yad Vashem, the center for documentation, research, education, and commemoration of the Holocaust, is seeking information about the women on the list and about Gabersdorf in general.  A recent article lists all of the women's names and includes contact information if you can assist with Yad Vashem's research.

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The UK's Commonwealth War Graves Commission, begun after World War I, cares for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations in 154 countries, to ensure that 1.7 million people who died in the two World Wars are not forgotten.  The Commission is trying to make contact with relatives of around 70 soldiers, sailors, and airmen who are buried at cemeteries in the United Kingdom.  A list of the servicemen can be found here.

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The Central Registry of Information on Looted Cultural Property 1933–1945 exists to coordinate the return of property stolen during World War II to rightful owners or their descendants.  The lists of owners of identified property have been recently updated.  Looted property consists of art, books, and more.

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Ernst Bienenfeld resident certificate
Loyola Marymount University in California has digitized a photographic collection of Shanghai from 1937–1947 that includes photos of Jewish refugees, Chinese citizens, and others.  They are trying to crowdsource information about the people in the photos, and translations of the German and Chinese documents.  The digitized images have been posted to Flickr.  The information page about the collection includes a link to the Flickr pages.  Take a look if you had family in Shanghai during that time or if you can assist with translations.

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Lisa Taylor, writing for the Library of Congress "Folklife Today" blog, is asking people to pledge to interview at least one veteran during National Volunteer Month, the extension of National Volunteer Week to the entire month of April. Visit her blog post and make your commitment in the comments section.  Then go to the Veterans History Project site to find out how to make it happen.  Return to the site the week before Memorial Day to see a new “Experiencing War” feature dedicated to more Veterans History Project volunteers, with links to some of their interviews.

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The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODŻ) tries to protect and commemorate surviving monuments of Jewish cultural heritage in Poland.  It is active in areas away from major cities and covers nearly two thirds of Poland.

FODŻ is looking for volunteers to adopt Jewish cemeteries in Poland.  A current town list of Jewish cemetery projects that are already "adopted" and "seeded" is available on the Web site.  Each entry has a descendant, survivor, family historian, or organization that is concerned and has contacted FODŻ.  Projects range from clean-up and maintenance work to hopes of erecting a memorial to commemorate a specific family or a whole community lost in the Holocaust.  The size, scope, and concept are for the volunteers to decide and to finance, either alone or with partners.  FODŻ can help with the necessary permits, advice on material and labor, and arranging installation and final dedication events.

Jewish cemeteries, especially those that have no headstones, are vulnerable to being forgotten.  Please contact FODŻ if you are ready to start a new project that can make a difference in preserving these precious relics.

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