On Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoa), Red Cross remembers successes of its Restoring Family Links services

In recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day the American Red Cross is reaching out to Holocaust survivors and their families to inform them of Red Cross services to reconnect families and find documentation.

Since 1990 the American Red Cross has helped over 45,000 families search for information and documentation of their loved ones who went missing during the Holocaust. Miraculously this work has resulted in locating 1,600 individuals and reconnecting them with their families. Watch the video of Saul Dreier, a Coconut Creek resident and Holocaust survivor who was reunited with his cousin through the Red Cross Restoring Family Links services.

Dreier thought he lost his entire family during the World War II murder of millions by the Nazi regime. After almost 70 years of thinking he was alone, he was able to locate his cousin Lucy Weinberg, a resident of Montreal, Canada, in late 2010 after Red Cross caseworkers scoured records from the former Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center and more than 180 Red Cross societies around the world for clues. You can read their story here.

HOLOCAUST AND WAR VICTIMS TRACING So many years after World War II, the pain of being separated from family still affects many. The American Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center was closed in November 2012 but through its national Restoring Family Links program, the Red Cross continues to help residents of the United States search for information about loved ones missing since the Holocaust.

The tracing services are free of charge and utilize the worldwide network of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, the Magen David Adom in Israel, as well as museums, archives and international organizations to help find information about someone’s loved one.

HOW TO BEGIN YOUR SEARCH If someone is interested in trying to find a loved one, they can contact their local Red Cross chapter. These searches are complex and can take a year or more to find results. Information has been found in more than 79 percent of cases such as documentation outlining deportation to another country, or in some, confirmation of death. Some, like Saul Dreier, have been lucky to find their loved ones and reunite after so many years of separation.

American Red Cross Marks Twenty Years of Helping Holocaust Survivors Reconnect

Center has reconnected 1,600 families separated by Second World War

WASHINGTON, September 23, 2010 — The American Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center on Friday will commemorate two decades of providing essential answers to survivors and their families about loves ones who have been missing since the Second World War.

“The need to know what happened to a parent, sibling or child who vanished without a trace never goes away,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO with the American Red Cross.  “More than 60 years since the liberation, many families are still searching for answers and struggling to understand.”

At a time when Nazi and Soviet records were first beginning to surface, a small group of American Red Cross volunteers had the vision to open a national clearinghouse dedicated to gaining access to archives and learning the fates of the missing.

The American Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center opened its doors for the first time in Baltimore on September 24, 1990. In the 20 years since, thousands of people have turned to the Red Cross for information about loved ones lost during this tragic period.

“For the families, every answer is a gift,” said McGovern. “People of Jewish faith, for example, give great significance to the date of a person’s death—for it is on the anniversary of death that loved ones light candles in their memory.  Even when the exact date cannot be found, often the date a relative was taken to a concentration camp or ghetto is enough to provide solace.”

In tribute to the compassionate and committed volunteers who have processed more than 43,000 requests for information and documentation from survivors and in turn eased their suffering, a celebration luncheon will take place on Monday, September 27 during the center’s annual meeting in Baltimore.

“Many of these volunteers helped find people alive after half a century—people thought to be missing or dead,” said McGovern. “For the more than 1,600 families brought together through the work of the center, this information is priceless and life-changing.”

Tracing activities are offered at no cost for survivors and their families so they can obtain information, resolution and, in some cases, documentation that will help them secure reparations.

 After receiving a request, the center will research the fate of the missing by consulting the global Red Cross Red Crescent network as well as various archives, museums and partner organizations throughout the world. The International Tracing Service of Arolsen, Germany, which contains more than 47 million Nazi documentation records, proves to be an invaluable resource for the center’s work.

More information on the Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center can be found at local Red Cross chapters or at www.redcross.org/services/intl/holotrace/.