Powerful new tools -- including software created by Gene Codes Corp. to help identify remains of 9/11 terrorist attack victims -- are being applied to solve mysteries that remain from the Holocaust of World War II.
The DNA Shoah project, announced last month by Gene Codes founder Howard Cash at the Human Genome Organization meeting in Finland, could be the most extensive DNA detective undertaking ever if organizers succeed in collecting DNA samples from even a fraction of the 300,000 Holocaust survivors around the world.
The DNA Shoah Project plans to establish a genetic database of those who lost family during the Holocaust. A DNA database can help identify those victims who were murdered by the Nazi regime and/or who died because of wartime-related issues and are buried throughout Europe in unmarked and mass graves. Most of the 6 million Jews who were murdered were not cremated but buried after their death. In many cases, DNA can be obtained from the bones of these victims when they are disinterred. Remains of Holocaust victims continue to surface throughout Europe because of continual land development. Until this project, there has been no means to positively identify the victims. Establishing the DNA database now will begin a process that will carry far into the next millennium. The DNA Shoah Project can also serve to unite loved ones and further establish closure for families who have missing relatives. The database is being created to assist European governments in the identification of victims and will not be used for any other purpose.
DNA is the genetic material in your cells and makes all of us unique. It can be obtained by a gentle swab of the inner cheek. Useful candidates for this project can come from a cohort of pre-war immigrants, survivors, and second and third generations of survivors' families. There is a nominal cost related to the testing.
The information will not be shared with any other non-forensic agency. The anonymity of those in the database will be assured by coding of names.
The DNA Shoah project is seeking Holocaust survivors and possible relatives to submit DNA samples for testing. It also is seeking benefactors to help pay for the project.
For more information, visit http://www.dnashoah.info.
My thanks to Mary Grindol for telling me about this project.