Stumbling Blocks – Remembering Debora Hedeman and Bertha Zilversmit

two bronze monuments in the pavement

Last month, twenty bronze monuments were installed in my home town of Oldenzaal. They are Stolpersteine, "stumbling blocks," about 10x10 cm (4x4") large bronze stones inscribed with the name of a Jewish resident who was murdered during the Holocaust. They are placed in the pavement in front of the house where they last lived. These Stolpersteine … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Deaths are recorded in the place of residence

Death record of Debora Julia Hedeman, died Sobibor, 9 April 1943. Her death was recorded in Oldenzaal, Overijssel, the Netherlands on 9 December 1949.

If a person died in a different location than where he lived, the civil registration of his place of residence would also record his death. Often, they would receive a copy of the death record that was created in the place of death, and would then record that copy in their own death registers. This was also done after World War II, to record all … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – Resources for Jewish genealogy in the Netherlands


Several people have asked me how to find their Jewish ancestors in the Netherlands. I have researched several Jewish families, but don't read Hebrew so I cannot access all records. Here are some resources that have been useful in my research. Please share your own tips in the comments. Regular records Since the introduction of the civil … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – Are there any records of people who helped Jews in World War II?

Westerbork monument, the place from where most Jews were transported to the camps in Eastern Europe. Credits:

Earlier this week, Kirk Payne wrote the following comment: I have a request that might stump you. My wife’s immediate ancestors immigrated to the US in the early 20th Century. Most of her great- and great-great Aunts and Uncles remained in the Netherlands. She had a cousin ask us if we’d seen any records showing her relatives having helped the … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Visit the virtual Jewish monument

Auschwitz main gate with the text 'Arbeit macht frei'

Today we commemorate that Camp Auschwitz was liberated 70 years ago. I visited the camp with my class in high school and it made a lasting impression on me. We saw rooms packed with children's shoes, toothbrushes, toys, and then read that it was just 1% of the total number that had been collected. Each one representing a tragic story. The … [Read more...]

Column: Best find


When you are at a birthday party and tell people you are into genealogy, the first question you often get is "How far back were you able to go?" If they haven't lost all interest after hearing your stories about tracing some lines to the Middle Ages and getting stuck on some illegitimate children in the 19th century on other lines, a second … [Read more...]

Name taking records

Name taking record of Jelmer Sipkes Sipma

The French occupation from 1795-1813 introduced many new types of administration, including the civil registration. To properly record people, it was necessary that they all had a last name. In 1811 and 1813, Napoleon decreed that everybody had to register their last name. After the French occupation ended, the Dutch government decided to keep … [Read more...]