Throughout Europe, unmarked graves from World War II can still be found. Some of the dead were victims of the Holocaust. Others, the usual casualties of war. In all cases, their names have been lost and forgotten.
Howard Cast of Gene Codes has joined up with Syd Mandelbaum and Michael Hammer, founders of the DNA Shoah Project. The project was launched in November 2005. The project will take DNA samples from the bones in the unmarked graves and create a genetic database. They’ll then attempt to track down Holocaust survivors and those whose family members were murdered by the Nazis. Their DNA samples will be compared to the database. By comparing the DNA they may be able to unlock identity of the bones. The data may also be used to reunite siblings who were separated during World War II. This same process was used in identifying victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack.
They expect that the database may take 20 to 30 years to compile. Those who wish to contribute DNA should visit the Shoah Project website at http://www.dnashoah.info.
[Photograph of Auschwitz courtesy of Tim Becker, www.sxc.hu]