2017 New Series of Posts Holocaust Museum POST 2

Day 1: Experiences at the Victims and Resource Center:

By taking the metro on a Sunday morning, I was able to acclimate myself before the busyness of Monday morning rush hour might distract me. When I arrived at the museum before 10 o’clock, I wanted the guards to know my purpose was not the same as a museum visitor. The computer I carried  provided that explanation, and I became the first person at the head of the line.

The second floor Holocaust Survivors and Victims Center was smaller than I imagined, but quiet. The most adept volunteer quickly acclimated me to their system and explained how to look at two areas in the database: the middle section and the bottom section with additional information. I also learned about an exact and a “fuzzy” search. She made me feel welcome and no question was too simple for her.

I started with my printout of 50 Spurgat names and worked methodically through each name. I penciled in the notes quickly so I could review them and make a computer entry in the evenings as I planned my work for the next day. I wasn’t finding as much as I had hoped and penciled in DNFs (Did Not Find) very quickly.

Here is a sample:


1. 1903 Adam Spurgat (relationship unidentified) was living in Essen. JOHANN DNF
18. Grete Spurgat Sister of Eduard Spurgat born 1897. Do not know married surname


I was not finding any of the names of the Spurgats who had lived in Essen, but I did have the copy with me of the one Essen record from August 2014. Why was Adolf Spurgat the only Essen name in the ITS collection?

I asked the volunteer: How could I find the source a particular record from Essen? She referred me to the two gentlemen who would be there the next day. The rest of this story will be the subject of Posts 4 and 5.  Stay tuned!

The volunteer told me that Fanny Aizenberg, a 99 year old Holocaust survivor came to the Victims and Survivors Resource Center every Sunday at 1’ clock. Would I mind taking a few minutes from my research to visit with her? Would I ever!!!! She arrived with her guardian, who brings her in a wheelchair from a taxi. What a privilege it was to meet her, if only briefly. She is the first one on the list of Volunteer Survivors listed on the website. Later that day I would see my Spurgat aunt, also 99. What a day to be in the presence of such gracious ladies!

By mid-afternoon the area was quiet, and I was completing my 50some Spurgat names with many DNFs. I was adding several new Spurgat names in the blank spaces, especially records relating to the children of Anna Spurgaitis/Ona Surgatiene whom I had written about in


I did not stop to copy those 15 records as I had my story about Anna, and I still did not know the relationship. I would come back to them if I had extra time.

The volunteer offered me hot tea and some cookies during her break. She could not have been nicer!

With the Spurgats completed for the moment, I turned to my maternal line, the Hutop family, where I had listed about 30 names with extra space for any new names. I found a gold mine, exactly what I was looking for! These results will be the subject of Post 3 so stay tuned!

The next several posts will describe the rest of the research trip which on Day 1 had already taken an unexpected turn.

A Final Note for Researchers

The massive databases in the ITS collection are most impressive. The volunteers who know this collection are impeccable. For the experienced researcher, the search is promising. I prepared as best as I could. However, there is one thing that I would do differently if I were to return. Each part of the collection is labelled as a series of number (i. e. There may also be a folder number. Some records provide an image, some do not. As a researcher, I do not know what the source of records each sequence of numbers represents. The staff and volunteers do. For follow up questions and easy access, the volunteers would, I suspect, like to know the number sequence. I wish I had written it down for all the records I copied and notes I took. So if you go, make a table that has a cell for the ITS record number.


About suwalkigermans

I started family research in 1993. My first two books focused on my maternal grandparents. Both families came from Kreis Rosenberg, West Prussia, to Big Rapids, Michigan. I left the Spurgats from Wylkowiszki in the Russian Empire as the third book because of the difficult and challenging research it required. After I published the book in 2010, I wondered what to do next. I thought I might try to share some of my research with others and maybe at the same time, by going digital, someone would find me. When you read the comments, you will see that happened. The best part of all this is helping others.
This entry was posted in Families, International Tracing Service, Names, Research, Resources, Uncategorized, Web Sites and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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