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Restoring family Knowledge Destroyed by the Holocaust


For some families the past is shrouded in mystery, hiding atrocities too difficult to talk about. The holocaust was one of the world’s worst genocides, an event that still haunts the world today. For some, a DNA test can help clarify family relations and pasts. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported on one family who used DNA tests to restore family knowledge destroyed by the Holocaust.

DNA Test helps restore truth

For Harvey Brown’s family, the past was something you didn’t talk about. As his story in the Sentinel reveals, their family is typical of those that fled persecution. Part of the reason stories and family history was lost over time was due to language barriers. His father spoke many languages including French, Polish and Russian, but didn’t say which was his mother tongue. Many Jews also changed their surnames in America and the UK as a way to neutralise their past, or avoid racism. A DNA Test can help uncover ancestry.

Uncovering the past with a DNA Test

A simple DNA test can uncover answers to long obscured questions. Brown lost more than 80 relatives to the Holocaust. He told the Sentinel: “I never knew anything about my history. My family was very quiet about it. Not a word. It was too painful…I had to find out.” A DNA test can reveal your ancient origins and discover shared or common ancestors. As part of an overall investigation into ancestry, a DNA test can help when a paper trial ends – and help confirm family ties. Some DNA databases in America hold banks of Jewish DNA specifically to help the Jewish community. Brown discovered his family were Polish. Alongside his investigations using paper trails, the DNA test and news stories and military records around the Holocaust, Brown found the town where his grandparents lived, alongside the Nazi plans for how their home was to be destroyed.

DNA test sheds light

Thanks to advances in technology, the DNA test results also helped Brown connect via e-mail to distant relatives. Requesting suspected relatives to take a DNA test can confirm whether or not you are related. DNA tests are one way to reignite a family tree. As scientists learn more and databases grow, the DNA test could help shed light on answers for families all over the world.

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