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May 21, 2024

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Documenting Polish Victims of Nazi Germany

WASHINGTON, D.C.Holocaust Museum Presentation at Polish Embassy.

Representatives Ina Navazelskis and Diane F. Afoumado of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C. made a dramatic presentation here at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland on November 19, 2014, hosted by Consul Ewa Pietrasienska under the auspices of Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf. The program’s on-going mission is to publicize the extensive availability of records, documents, photos, eyewitness testimony, etc., of the Polish and other victims of the extreme and deadly cruelty they suffered at the hands of the occupying Nazi Germans during World War II.

Photo: Auschwitz Concentration Camp Records. Pictured is the prisoner file card for Polish Army officer Witold Pilecki (aka Tomasz Serafinski, Roman Jezierski). He later escaped from captivity at the Nazi German Auschwitz Concentration Camp in occupied Poland, along with another prisoner, on April 27, 1943 – which report was viewed as documented to the German Gestapo secret police. These are examples of the 150 million documents and other materials already cataloged, or being processed, by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum that are readily available and accessible by the public.

As per the USHMM: The German occupation of Poland was exceptionally brutal. The occupation authorities sought to destroy Polish culture by physically annihilating members of the Polish political, religious, and intellectual elites. Between 1939 and 1945, German authorities deported at least 1.5 million Polish citizens as forced laborers to German territories and imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Poles in Nazi concentration camps. The Germans killed approximately 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians during World War II. In addition, the Germans murdered about 3 million Jewish citizens of Poland.

The presentation included official German documents, photos and artifacts related to the victims. Personal and heart-rending interviews with Jan Nowak-Jezioranski and other Poles were viewed with great empathy by the audience.

Presently the USHMM oral archives contains over 12,500 such interviews – the largest in the world. It is actively seeking more eyewitness/first hand interviews -especially in English – and any related surviving films or photographs. Arrangements can be made with the Museum’s International Outreach Officer Jaime J. Monllor – – to present this Poland/Polish orientated program to the Polish American community.

The Holocaust Museum has archived a massive collection of information about Polish, Jewish, and many other German persecuted peoples. The Polish collection of over 150,000 documents  encompasses concentration camp arrivals, transport and deportation lists, prisoner cards (with photos), forced labor and death lists, registration and work cards (some with photos), and much personal information compiled by the very efficient German administration bureaucracy in occupied-Poland.

DSC02367forwebIn photo: Ina Navazelskis narrating projected images.

    The U.S. Repository for the International Tracing Service (ITS) is located at, and managed by, the Holocaust Museum. It contains names, destinations, records and other personal information concerning the epical forced migration of populations of Displaced Persons for resettlement across the adjusted borders of Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.

All of the foregoing information and materials mentioned are totally accessible to the public at the unforgettable and expansive Holocaust Museum located at 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2126. You can also submit an ITS Research Request Form to the Museum’s Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center at This is an extremely valuable resource for anyone searching for a lost relative … or maybe finally learning of their fate?

Richard P. Poremski
Polish American Journal
Washington, D.C. Bureau