16 December 2014


How Polish Nuns Saved Hundreds of Jewish Children in German-Occupied Poland, 1939-1945
By Ewa Kurek
Introduction by Jan Karski
C 1977 Hippocrene Books
Originally published in Poland as Gdy Klasztor Znaczyl Sycie  C Zvak Publishers

The book starts out with a translation of a poster that was posted in German and Polish during the occupation.  It says:

A reminder - in accordance with paragraph 3 of the decree of October 15, 1941, on the Limitation of Residence in General Government (page 595 of the GG Register) Jews leaving the Jewish Quarter without permission will incur the death penalty.  According to this decree, those knowingly helping these Jews by providing shelter, supplying food, or selling them foodstuffs are also subject to the death penalty.  This is a categorical warning to the non-Jewish population against 1) Providing shelter to Jews 2) Supplying them with Food 3) Selling them Foodstuffs.  Dr. Franke - Town Commissioner - Czestochowa 9/24/42."

This book was first published as a graduate student thesis and it is very detailed, informative, and most importantly strives to show both sides honesty and fairly. So it begins with just what the interaction of most Jews with most Christians was before the Holocaust, and that was minimal, but for the professional classes which would have come in contact with each other mostly in business.  (That would include Doctors and Lawyers.)

One of the reasons I'm posting this book review/recommendation on Ancestry Worship - Genealogy is that sometimes Industrial era immigrants from Poland and other countries effected by the holocaust have suggested to later generations that someone in the family was a convert from Judaism to Catholicism or another Christianity. I then often hear that this had to be "impossible" because Jews and Christians had little to nothing to do with each other in the old country.

Well, now that you've read what the law was, you know that indeed, anyone who helped a Jew survive could be put to death themselves.  Such people, when recognized for their sacrifice are called "Righteous Gentiles" by Jews today.

Page 33
According to the estimates of the Remembrance Institute of Yad Vashem in Jerusalen, of the nearly one million Jewish children in Poland, only five thousand survived the Holocaust.

Page 35
Many Jews refused the offer of help for their children because  they did not want them to be converted.  Conversion was one of the reasons for those offers. "The Catholic clergy has always made use of hard times in the life of Jews (pograms, deportations, etc.) for winning both adults and children."  Additionally, some clergy could offer shelter and hide children under the threat of death but they could not necessary afford to feed and support the child and charged money for this.

Page 45
"On the eve of World War II, there were 74 active convents and11 contemplative ones in Poland, in which over 20,000 nuns lived." ... "The nuns belonging to the active orders in Poland worked among and for the Polish people.  They satisfied Polish society's great needs concerning child care through their work in orphanages, nurseries, kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and boarding-schools; they too care of the poor, the sick, the homeless, as well as outcasts; they constituted the bulk of the junior medical staff in hospitals all over Poland; they taught religion and helped with the work of numerous Catholic parishes.

Yes, in order to hide the children under watchful Nazi eyes, the children had to learn the prayers, dress differently, and sometimes remain silent in order to hide an accent or the fact that they did not speak Polish, but Yiddish.  Still, most likely some Nazi's knew or suspected that some of the children they saw when they showed up at these nunneries were Jewish.  Perhaps they respected the nuns enough to pretend not to know.

This book contains the testimonials of some of the children as adults as well as some of the nuns.  It also contains a list of the orders of nuns by location, for instance  Baworow was the Albertine Sisters, Chorzow, the Dominican Sisters, Grodzisko, Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, Kostowiec, Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary.

A valuable book, that covers a part of history that many people's families took part in on one side or the other.

11 December 2014


How a heroic HJapanese diplomat saved Jewish refugees in World War II

C 2005 Dentsu Inc.

In 1939, as Hitler advanced through Eastern Europe and Jews fled, Japanese diplomat CHIUNE SUGIHARA decided that he would provide handwritten (in Japanese) passports to thousands of others.  He risked his career and ultimately was punished and by the time he returned to his family he was a changed man, for the worse, unsmiling and perhaps depressed.

He was the Japanese Counsul to Litrhuania and more than 2000 Sughihara visas allowed families to flee through Russia to Japan and then abroad.  He is the Japanese Shindler.  For today there are at least 40,000 people alive due to his decision to act upon his innermost values. 

In a case like this I always hope that this person has their reward in the afterlife and in future incarnations.

27 November 2014


Every year about this time I find that most family history projects are set aside for the holidays, which bring their own challenges and keep everyone too busy.  Holiday get-togethers can be a good time to talk about family history though and here's an idea: if you're too busy with getting the table cleared and the left overs put away, why not assign one of the children to interview one of the seniors and record the interview?  It can be wonderful to replay the interview years later and hear those child voices and the voices of the elderly.

This morning I "heard" in my mind a favorite song of my one of my relatives and it made me wonder if they were trying to contact me, trying to encourage me, trying to remind me to be THANKFUL.

I am!  Sometimes for the smallest things, but a beautiful day is enough!  A walk down the leaf-strewn street with my dog is a great pleasure!

Happy Holidays!

25 November 2014


You may or may not have genealogy research on your computer, in a subscription family tree, on memory devices, in a cloud, stuck into a Gmail account, or other electronics BUT THE PAPERLESS OFFICE IS A MYTH.

You really should have your research in paper in addition to any electronic resources.  Why? Because if you can't keep up with the changes - expensive upgrades - in the future or have an unexpected experience like a flood or earthquake or fire, it may all go up in smoke.

Binders of choice for genealogists are the enclosed ones - zippers - handles - that keep the dust out, along with plenty of plastic archival type page holders. 

One of my friends also uses plastic storage boxes and lines cardboard with heavy duty plastic bags, which will help if there's a flood.

Though these are all very Practical as gifts...  they are appreciated!

17 November 2014


For people like me who love to visit historical sites and always want to know what a  museum, university library, or regional history center may have to offer a genealogist and family history writer, the $30 here and the $50 there can really add up.  May I suggest that your genealogy buddy may just love a membership in one of these types of ethnic or general research groups?

Notice that some ethnic research groups don't have local representation but may have "subscriber only" databases that require a small payment!

03 November 2014


Did you know that Buddhists believe that chanting certain mantras, hundreds of times, for the recently departed can get them to heaven?  Or that Catholics also believe that praying for the dead may release them from Purgatory?  How about that some people believe that when a person comes to visit you after death - be it in a dream or as a ghostly apparition - they may be there to ask you to pray for them?  Latter Day Saints believe that when you are doing your genealogy you can pray to ask the ancestors to help you with your research.

I've had spiritual experiences such as dream contact with the dead.  In one case I was not aware the person had actually died until much later but in the dream they were coming by to see me before leaving town.  I've had the experience of seeing the face of someone who has died in my mind's eye like a small cameo at a time when I was not at all thinking of them consciously. 

I've seen one full-on ghost, years ago.  The person had recently passed from a combination of sleeping pills and alcohol, and because I saw this ghost smiling and waving, but also going about his worldly profession, I knew it had been accidental and not a suicide.

I recall what the late psychic medium Sylvia Browne had to say about ghosts.  She said that if the apparition you see has its feet on the floor, they are indeed a ghost.   If they are up off the floor, floating, then are already on The Other Side, which is what she called the afterlife.  (My favorite of the psychic mediums is James Von Prague.  He has stopped doing readings and is focusing on education.)

What strikes me about these experiences of mine is that they happened when I was not seeking contact.  Some people do, with rituals, seek contact with spirits or other entities.  (I think this can be dangerous.  I prefer to just let it happen, if its going to happen, as a natural part of living.)

When researching your genealogy, you sometimes find that amazing synchronicities are occurring.  I say do everything you can, do it right, but also be open to the gifts of information that you may encounter and keep in touch with your own ability to be psychic.

Here is an example of something that happened to me recently.

I got to the research library I was using for the day a little early with a strong plan of action for using my time.  However, it turned out I was going to have to wait my turn to get on the Internet.  So I sat in front of a database machine that had the Social Security Death Index on it, as well as other databases.  Suddenly the thought came to me "I wonder, is Katherine dead!"  So of course in two minutes I had her married name in the SSDI and sure enough she had died a little more than one year prior!  I had not thought of Katherine in years.  She had died young.  When I got on the Internet I not only found her obit but other information that I wished were not true. 

Katherine and I were friends in our late teens and early twenties before our lives diverged.
I guess she really wanted me to know that she had died and so I do!  

She had changed religions and was Jewish at the time of her death and had a husband who could do the prayers and rituals of that religion for her,  which normally go on for a year, and I did not seek him out or involve myself in her spiritual evolution past death.  I had a strong sense that this was not my place and also that I wouldn't know what was truly appropriate.  But I did note that she had waited that year to get her message to me across somehow.

C 2014 All Rights Reserved including International and Internet Rights.  Ancestry Worship Genealogy Blog

25 October 2014


I just LOVE when scientists and artists use skeletal remains and an understanding of musculature or the latest computer technology to actually sculpt or virtually sculpt a face of a person who was in a bog for thousands of years!

If you've heard of bog men before you know that some DNA analysis is being done and that there are living people today who are related to bog men...  But well, this film is more about trying to figure out why, culturally, certain people are in the bog.  Some of them appear to have been murdered on purpose, even the victims of over-kill, having been killed three different ways.  Will we ever know how it is they were chosen?  Were they abducted and protesting or doped up and willing?

Why the violence?  Were they human sacrifices by Druids?  Can we assume that these horrific deaths are part of Celtic culture just because they are found in bogs around Ireland?

Today the scientists and artists can tell us that a certain victim was young, rich - because he used imported hair pomade to put his hair on end to possibly compensate for being short - and healthy because of the diet remains in his stomach. 


16 October 2014




A provocative analysis now suggests that the Habsburg royal family might have evolved under natural selection over three centuries to blunt the worst effects of inbreeding. Evolutionary theory predicts such a 'purging' process, and researchers have documented the effect in animals and plants. But evidence among humans is scant — in part because of the dearth of data on inbred families spanning many generations.

Royal families such as the Habsburgs are an ideal place to look, says Francisco Ceballos, a geneticist at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, who led the research. He and colleague Gonzalo Álvarez used written records to track the marriages, births and deaths of 4,000 individuals across more than 20 generations. “The royal dynasties of Europe are a lab of inbreeding for human populations,” says Ceballos..."

13 October 2014


Browsing through dozens of articles about Princess Charlene of Monaco, who has just announced that she is carrying twins, I saw there was a lot of confusion about which one would become Prince of Monaco, taking over after Albert steps down or dies.  (Of course this could happen in an untimely fashion, in which case it's possible that his sister Caroline would step in.)

I found the definitive article!


If the twins are both boys, the first child born becomes the heir to the throne, with his twin brother as heir presumptive.

If the twins are a boy and a girl, the boy becomes heir, regardless of if he is born first or second. His sister is heir presumptive unless her parents have another child who is a boy in the future.

If the twins are both girls, the first child born becomes the heir to the throne, with his twin sister as heir presumptive – unless or until another boy comes along. Then the younger boy becomes the heir to the throne.

11 October 2014


Once upon a time I took Journalism classes in college and I'm miffed.  Why are so many publications simply refusing to call the former Catherine "Kate" Middleton, her proper name which is, since her marriage, Catherine Windsor, or Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge?  

Since she is now expecting another child, there is so much press coverage of Catherine and her husband, William Windsor, Duke of Cambridge, and reading around it for a couple hours the other night I discovered that there is a controversy circulating that Catherine is Jewish, or some small part Jewish.  One website I looked at said "She is not Jewish but she has Jewish ancestry."

Apparently this is a big issue because there is also speculation that Diana, Princess of Wales, the mother of William Windsor, Duke of Cambridge, was also Jewish, through her mother, and if the speculation is to be believed, Diana's genetic father may have been a Jewish man that her mother might have been having an affair with, making her the half sibling of Jemima Khan and the Goldsmiths.  One site declares that someday both the King and Queen of England will be Jews.

I find this all interesting, and I suppose the main importance of it would be that someday if William becomes King, it will be up to him to uphold and be the head of the Church of England.

On the side of "is Jewish" is that the surname Goldsmith, which is the maiden name of Catherine's mother, is supposed to be a "Jewish only" name from the days when only Jewish people were to be involved in precious metals and the making of jewelry.  One sit ehad a chart of the women in her mother's line, first names, surnames, and dates.  Back in the 18th century there was a Rebecca, for instance.  Well, I know Christian Rebecca's. 

Then there is the long held Jewish notion that the child is Jewish if the mother is.  That's by Jewish standards. But this doesn't take into account that people may have been practicing another religion for generations or be uninterested in religion.  Here, after many generations, we have the ONE DROP philosophy, which is that if a person has one ancestor who is Jewish, or Black, then they ARE, as if all those other ancestors should be discounted.  Having met people who wished to self identify with this rather flimsy evidence I back off and say "as you will." 

How someone looks has something to do with it, no doubt.  How society and culture in a time and place looks at a person, also has something to do with it.  DNA may also throw such controversies to the curb; I know one Black woman who just found out that her first American ancestor was a white Irish woman in early America in indentured servitude and who married a Free Black man.  She feels this has thrown her self identity.

Historically there have been a lot of people forced into conversion.  But there are also people who openly and willingly change religions.  Dare I say there are a lot of people who don't care all that much and just go along with the program?  For instance, in Europe people changed religion by command of whomever owned the land they lived on.

Clearly, when it comes to belief, both William and Catherine are members of the Church of England, which is Protestant Christian.  They are not Jewish.  They are not Catholic.  They were married in the Church of England.  Their children will be raised in the Church of England.  To me, no matter what their DNA, or the history of their families, they are what they are in the here and now.

C  2014 Ancestry Worship Genealogy  All Rights Reserved including International and Internet Rights