France has been doing more and more to recognise and acknowledge the facts concerning the deportation of French Jewish people to the Nazi death camps during the Second World War. Les déportés were mostly Jewish and Roma people, but also included those who tried to help them and were caught, and resistance fighters who were caught. As the generation that did not want to know shrivels, their grandchildren are bringing the subject more into public discussion. Includes French citizens and citizens of other countries resident in France. The Departmental Archives of Orne are presenting an exhibition of drawings of the camps by some of those held there. Students who interviewed camp survivors for a school project were awarded a national prize.
Since 1985, with the loi 85-528, the French government has slowly been publishing the names of those who died. After confirming the identity of the person and the date and place of death, they publish lists. Most importantly, with each confirmation, a death registration is created, noting mort en déportation, and a marginal note of the same is place on the birth registration. This is more than symbolic, for it gives any heirs the necessary legal documentation to begin to pursue a claim. Periodically, new lists are published in the Journal Officiel and can be seen on the government website Legifrance. To date, about sixty per cent of the estimated 115,000 deported have been listed.
The difficulty for the genealogist seeking a name is that each list contains dozens of names, running to many pages and the lists are legion. There is no index. Where to look? If the date and place of birth is known, seek the birth registration to see if a marginal note has been added; then, based on the information given in the note, request the death registration. If there be no marginal note, this is not conclusive as the work described above is in progress. There are a number of online resources to try next.
One of the first places to look is the website of Yad Vashem, "the Jewish people's living memorial to the Holocaust". There, one finds a database that can be searched, which takes its names from a number of sources, official and personal. Even so, this is the collection with the most combined sources. For those seeking living relatives, the Pages of Testimony are particularly valuable. Unfortunately, we have noticed a number of mistakes or discrepancies concerning some of the French names, so information discovered there needs to be confirmed with more research.
The website Les Morts Dans Les Camps attempts to be an index to the lists of French victims from the Journal Officiel. (We recommend against using the English version of this website, to save your sanity.) Here, the names can be searched by surname, place of birth within France, place of birth outside of France, or by the list published. It is a clunky and slow website to use, but invaluable.
We have previously presented a guest post about the SHOAH Memorial in Paris. Its website continues to increase its content concerning the names and fates of victims, now including some photographs. Its search page is accessible in English.
The website of AJPN.org, Anonymes, Justes et Persécutés durant la période Nazie dans les communes de France is more than a collection of names. It contains memories, stories and photographs about the victims and the people who managed to save some, including Jewish, Roma and Spanish Republicans, as well as Jewish Resistance fighters. It is an effort to capture first-hand memories before all those who have them will have died. It is possible to search by name (in the upper left-hand corner of the page) and by commune.
By using all of these websites together, and cross-checking facts as much as possible, it may be possible to trace French victims from your family, and possibly to connect with a relative.
©2016 Anne Morddel