So in that time I decided to research my own family history some more.
It has been a difficult yet illuminating time.
I have been able to enlist the help of family all over the world, some I know well and others I have never formally met yet. We have been conference calling, poolling all our resources together. Sometimes grasping at the tiniest bit of information to set off another lead. I have worked many hours into the night, looking for clues, any evidence or trace.
What makes it so very difficult for us is that most of the family on my fathers side was obliterated in The Holocaust. That means most records, photos and those who could have assisted my research are gone, lost forever.
There are ways to find information but most of those records, from the small Shtetlach - towns from where my families lived were burnt by the Nazis' so no trace of them could be found.
The image above is from when I was in Israel in January.
This is the room in which all written testimonies are stored.
It is a circular room and enormous.
In the black boxes, which are in alphabetical listing, are all the names of people who were killed and have been written, testified about, by family friends or neighbours.
The word you see on the boxes is Yizkor, meaning Remember.
So, quite by chance, on monday I wrote the number 62 on my facebook wall.
That was the number I was up to.
Downloading and printing both the original testimony from immediate family members who managed to survive and downloading and printing the detailed document of
where they were from,
who they were married to
how many children they had
where they were transported to
where they were finally killed.
As I kept logging in the numbers of IMMEDIATE family
I increased the number on my facebook wall.
People were curious but I could not bring myself to tell them what I was doing.
I stopped at 81
These are some of the photos people attached to their written testimonies at Yad Vashem.
These make up a circular wall of images and testimonies behind the images within the room I referred to above.
The photos go up to the Heavens
It seems to never end
When one looks up this is what one sees.
My research has been extensive.
That is why I have been quiet on my blog.
This is too important to stop.
Those small minority of my family who survived have mostly died out now.
So I am racing against time to get any information I can.
The plethora of skype-ing and emails and conference calls have been helpful.
New leads have been found.
There may even been a photo, a last sighting of my fathers sister.
I am waiting for that to arrive.
My father wants to know.
My father needs to know.
Where exactly, the tragedy, for him happened.
Also, the last letter my grandmother wrote to my beloved Great Aunt, her sister whilst she was sneaking food into her and her 2 children in The Warsaw Ghetto may have been found.
My grandmother wrote to her telling her not to sneak any more food parcels to her because they were going to be moved again.
When I get that letter, hopefully today, it may have have her address within the Ghetto.
If I know that address I can 100% confirm to my father to which extermination camp they went.
I spoke to a university lecturer today who wrote his thesis on the Jews from the area where my fathers family were from.
New information, that has only been released recently, lists my fathers mother, sister and brother on a specific transport. It was the first transport of its kind to the Ghetto.
He knows the street where those from that transport resided.
Those that lived on that street were exterminated at TREBLINKA.
It is 99% that this was the case for them.
I still want to see if the letter is addressed any different.
Researchers know which street of people went to specific extermination camps.
The trauma, for my father, of not knowing exactly where there final destination was has been too great for words.
At the bottom of the circular photo wall at Yad Vashems Hall of Rememberance,
one looks at this bottomless pit.
Water is at the base so when one looks at the reflection of the wall of photos, it seems endless.
Monday, when I typed the numbers of my family who perished, one by one, so happened to be the official Holocaust Rememberance Day. I did not realise till today as I go to a memorial service on the weekend.
It also seemed liked an endless pit, looking up names - most are spelt differently as they are transliterated. It can take hours to find a name - so many are the same. So checking the details and the source is vital.
Today my twin brother flew into Poland for a few hours.
He went to Auschwitz for a very special ceremony.
Today, my brother is the first one in the family to step on Polish soil and recite Kaddish
the memorial prayer for the dead.
I stopped my number at 81 so far.
If I were to hold up 81
in a mirror
I would see the number 18.
18 means "Chai", in Jewish numerology.
"Chai" means LIFE
We live on!
How pertinent that my brother is there, in Poland, at Auschwitz, saying the memorial prayer for the family.
Standing there, testament to the fact that Hitler's Final Solution did not succeed.
He is the evidence of that for our family today.
ZACHOR - REMEMBER