"He who seeks he finds"
What prompted this project to speed up was when Christian, Bers grandson, saw a documentary about World War II on YouTube. A few minutes before the end of this documentary, some prisoners were released from an unknown prison camp at liberation. This captivated Christian curiosity when one of the prisoners looked very similar to Ber as young in photographs of his grandfather. He contacted Leon and when he had seen the end of the documentary he became completely stunned. Leon, Ber's son, was now also convinced that this could be Ber. After further investigation, these images were found to be from the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Red Army (Soviet Union) who stood for the liberation of that part of Poland. Ber was liberated by the Americans in another camp in Germany. He may well be a close relative but none that we know about. In the pictures below we also made some comparisons.
Some of the information about Ber the Fuchs family received over the years is in this site about him. But there was a lot in Swedish city archives like the one in Malmoe and the National Archives in Lund and Stockholm. There is also a fantastic recorded interview done by students from Lund University about his time during the war and what he encountered. This recording Leon's sister, Susan, received from their half-brother Olle Fuchs. The interview was digitized from a cassette tape with a very good result. The contents of it are reproduced here in writing. With regard to the collection of information for the time during the war, we have used the databases, Yad Vashem in Israel, the JewishGen and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in the United States. All databases had information about the Fuks family and a part about their destiny, which of course is valuable. No matter what we think about the Nazis and what they did with the European Jews, they were unbelievable in documenting. These databases are the only evidence that they ever existed.
When we searched the databases for the time during the war, information was first found at Yad Vashem. There we searched for names like "Fuchs" because we did not know at that time that Ber had changed his last name. We got around a thousand hits on Yad Vashem archives with all possible combinations. This took a while to look through them all but suddenly in one of the hits the name on "Mendel Fuks" there was a name that sounded familiar. The name that sounded familiar was Ber's sister Leon has met as a little boy in Israel in the 70's. The sister's name was "Esther Apelevits" and in 1956 she had submitted a testimony of who in her family who had died during the war (Shoah1). To see what this document looks like click here and see the page from the database click here. The information we received here was the start of several discoveries; the names of his parents (Mendel and Feiga), when they were born and supposedly murdered, the siblings names, grandparents names (Mendel's parents, Aba and Hinda, and Feiga's parents Shmuel and Sheina), etc. The essential thing was that we have found something to go on with. When you find such information you get a sense of euphoria and you just want to keep finding more.
1) It's in Hebrew and means the "Disaster" which refers to the Holocaust of the Second World War and the 6 million murdered there by the Germans and their allies in Europe. Of these 6 million, 1.5 million were children. Two thirds of Europe's 9 million Jews were killed during Second World War. (Source Wikipedia)
On a web site with an unknown database for war victims, one of the responsible for volunteers sought to digitize data. Leon contacted one of them, a professor at a university in the United States. After some correspondence, Leon had the task of writing from several photographs of a registrar into a Microsoft Excel page. This Leon thought was, of course, thrilling to be in help simplifying the search for his relatives and victims of the Second World War. After finishing his task, Leon asked for more pictures to work with, but just then there was a stance in the work of the database managers. This work that Leon performed gave him an understanding of the incredible amount of work that lies behind this huge database. Click here to see an example if a search was made for Ber Fuks on USHMM. Here we started searching now, and in the beginning we only got a few hits. By time the results were more comprehensive and a lot more interesting hits. We also discovered on USHMM that there wasn't any other database that hade the mark [PROTOCOL] on almost everyone in the Fuks family.. This turned out to be applications for work identity documents with image, Ber's ID card picture can be seen here next to this text, but also inside the page "Time in Lodz ghetto". This is amazing since there are no photographs in our possession from the Fuks family at all before the war. Applications for a digital copy of these applications were made first at USHMM and then at Lodz city archives. Unfortunately, there was only one application and it was Ber's, while the others were witnesses for other known ghetto inhabitants ID card applications. There weren’t any known applications found at Lodz city archives for the other family members and therefore unfortunately meant no photographs of them.
On the JewishGen, the hits are interesting because the information on which address the Germans indicated the Fuks family were living on are visible on a lot of hits. See below to see excerpts from one of the JewishGen databases. We also found out when family members died in Lodz ghetto and more about Ber's sibling Mindla’s fate. Much of the search in different databases has been able to confirm many times because of the address. The address they had in Lodz before the war and during the war in the ghetto gave us valuable clues. These addresses were before the war, Wolborska 19 apartment 10, and during the war Rauch Gasse 19 apartment 20. These have been completely invaluable clues.
Excerpt from the database JewishGen of the Fuks family in the Lodz ghetto.
Note the address Rauch Gasse 19 apartment 20. This address have many of Fuks relatives lived at.
We thought for a while that there were twins in the Fuks family when we found two people in JewishGen database that ware both living at the same address and were born the same date. However, this was wrong. We have also found documents before the war on the Fuks family where nothing was written about any twins. An explanation for the confusion may be that those who wrote these documents had similarly written L and S. This may have been misinterpreted in the digitization and we have seen this with our own eyes on documents before the war. They were handwritten and very difficult to read at first. At the JewishGen we also found out when the family members died in the Lodz ghetto.
For unknown reasons, Ber stated when he arrived in Trelleborg July 1945 that he was born August 12, 1922, which was incorrect. This was also the reason why we couldn't find him in the beginning when we search for him in Malmoe City archives as a refugee in Sweden arrived in 1945. In addition, he had changed the surname which further complicated the search for him in the archives. He had changed from Fuks in Surname to Fuchs. It was strange, Leon thought, that we did not find anything at all on his birthday or surname when we knew he came in 1945. Did we search for the wrong name maybe? We asked them working at the city archives in Malmoe to look up "Leon Fuchs" in their archives so we have something to work with. There it should be written who the father was. They found Leon's registry card with important clues and there the riddle was solved. From here there were a lot of records in the archive for us to look at. On the same card, there were several other interesting clues, such as all his seven children and who the mothers were, where he lived in the country, when he became a Swedish citizen, when and where he did his military service, etc. There were also a lot of records about the Red Cross in Lund National Archives and in Arringe National Archives with among other things his applications, permits and his military service.
Parts of the registry card from Malmö City's archive with the wrong birthday overlay and one reason we did not find Ber Fuchs initially. Note that even the names were overlooked when the Swedish authorities found out what he was called and his birthday data according to the Polish registries. One reason was also when he changed his last name in 1953.