[M]y siblings and I are looking to find out the name, and any information about my Granfather's (sic) child who was killed during the Holocaust. My grandfather has been deceased for over a decade, and he never spoke about his first wife and child who perished. We don't know much, but here's what we know:[M]y grandfather was from Drohobycz in the Lviv Oblast (province). We believe he was fromBoryslaw.When Hitler declared war on Poland, my grandfather] was 27 years old. He was married with a son. [He] joined the Polish army, and when it collapsed shortly thereafter, he bribed his way into the Russian army and that is how he survived.We have no idea at what point or how his wife or child were killed, just that they were.We are looking for information in general about his wife and child, but the most important thing is to find the son's name. Would you be able to find this out?
What are your rates for this kind of job?
I replied that "[t]here are no guarantees with this kind of search," and I discussed at length some suggestions regarding how we might approach the matter. I suggested inquiries at Yad Vashem where there might be records of their deaths and the International Tracing Service where family members - including her grandfather - might have inquired after them. I suggested contacting other researchers with common interests.
And I suggested sending a researcher to look at the births in the Civil Records Office in Warsaw, where records are held for at least a hundred years before they are sent to the appropriate archives.
Eventually they decided to try all these, but the only one that didn't come up empty immediately was the records office - and that was because it took a few months to set up. We had to provide the folks in Warsaw with a notarized authorization which included an affidavit stating that the family is legally entitled to the information.
|Miriam Weiner is the authority
on what records are found where.
See her site at http://www.rtrfoundation.org/
The family authorized a search for the birth records for the years 1938-1941. Unfortunately, 1940 is missing.
It took a few months to get the notarized authorization but eventually it came, I paid the researcher and the search was done. Without success.
The family then decided to search 1935-37. Here there was some considerable delay because the researchers husband was ill.
In the meantime, the family came up with the surname of the grandfather's wife - the mother of the child - and we considered the possibility that the birth had been registered under her name. So the 1938-1941 search was done again. The family then came up with a variation of the wife's surname and yet another search was done. (The researcher did not charge for these follow-ups, perhaps because of the delay caused by her husband's illness.)
The searches were done, nothing turned up and all I could do was throw up my hands and write a final report, a page and a half reviewing the searches and the results. I had been paid a few months earlier - the exact amounts that I had paid the researcher in Warsaw plus two-and-a-half hours of my time, way less than I had actually put in.
A few days ago, three weeks after my report, I received the following email:
Thank you for the final report.As I'm sure you can imagine, we are very disappointed with the outcome.It's a shame that this process dragged out as long as it did, and I felt that the case could have been handled more professionally at certain points.Do you have any recommendations for further pursuit of the information we are looking for? If it were your relative, what would your next step be?
My work has never been called "unprofessional" before and I found the idea that were it my relative, I would have some secret trapdoor access to information, to be bordering on insulting.
I am not sure how I'll respond. I don't work with a formal contract, but that would not have solved the problem. And I did say up front that there are no guarantees except my best effort. The fact that 1940 births are missing gives us a plausible explanation for the lack of a birth record. The grandfather could have gone off with the Polish army in 1939, leaving a pregnant wife who gave birth in 1940.
Or maybe for some unknown reason the birth was in some other town, though her own family was in Drohobycz, making that unlikely. But we are already in "unlikely" territory.
And I did say at the start that there are no guarantees except my best effort. But I repeat myself.