I told a friend that I haven't found any Sanetras in holocaust or concentration camp records, but I know these records are just starting to go online. He sent me this link to Auschwitz records. I don't know who these Sanetras are yet. But the name Sanetra is not very common, and they lived near my Sanetras. My first reaction was shock. I was stunned at how many Catholics were in Auschwitz! This list (60 thousand) was about half Catholics and half Jews. I never knew it was like that. When I asked other people if they knew it was this bad, (this many Polish Catholics in addition to Polish Jews were killed), they were stunned like I was. I just had no idea the Poles were targeted this severely! I asked a Polish friend some questions, and she was surprised we didn't know. So today, I write about what I learned this week, in the hopes we may go learn more history and know this part of our history a little better.
I knew that besides Jewish, there were others in the concentration camps, like: gypsies, Russians, and anyone deemed a political threat. Then I wondered, how was it "justified" on paper if they weren't Jewish? Was everyone not Jewish (in Auschwitz) labeled as a political threat? Were Poles targeted because Poland had been a haven to Jews for hundreds of years? I know we can't really understand the insanity of those who murdered millions of people. I was thinking in terms of record keeping, but even that is beyond what I can comprehend.
Wikipedia states 146,000 non-Jewish Poles were estimated to have died in Auschwitz. Wiki also quotes:
There are now four places I've seen records for Auschwitz, and they're all a little different. The Auschwitz foundation page explains that when Nazi's knew the troops were coming, they started mass destroying records. But multiple records were kept. The Auschwitz Foundation is collecting any record relevant to Auschwitz. They have received other records for other concentration camps in this process. The foundation is working on a way to archive and make those records accessible too.
1) Here is the link I was sent, where I first realized how many Catholics were there too. (Orthodox and Roman Catholic notated). This link is set to the "S" page, for a Sanetra search. If you scroll to the bottom of the page you can see the alphabet and go to other surnames. This database is about people who died at Auschwitz, with a death certificate issued by camp doctors. (free record search)
2) My friend sent me this link to the Auschwitz foundation page. http://www.auschwitz.org.pl/
The site is available in Polish and English. (free record search) This site lists birth, marriage and death information in "the prisoner search" database. There are informational pages on collections, preservation, restorations, goals and finances. It is a well done site that I highly recommend reading through. There is a page about Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton pledging 15 million dollars on the behalf of the United States and encouraging other countries to do so (last month). Art work done secretly by prisoners is posted on this site. The thing I thought most impressive, is that they stated the reason for doing this was to preserve the concentration camp and records. As proof that it happened, so it can never happen again. I was so impressed reading how extensive the preservation efforts were. I believe that a worldwide interest in preserving history and records is so important and so awesome!
Footnote.com has 12 holocaust databases. (subscription paid for records) There are also some amazing historical documents about the camps. Including pictures of a camp Hitler had set up for propaganda. Pictures were staged and taken. Then sent out to show how the Jews were being "cared for". One of the databases are War Crimes Records. Here is my Jan Wandzel image I got from Footnote.com. (click on it, to view full screen).
4) Ancestry.com (subscription site) contains 18 holocaust databases. There are 45 Jewish databases on Ancestry.com. Including these 5 databases for Poland listed as free: Jewish birth, death and marriage collections. The Bedzin Jewish Census of 1939, and Jewish Survivors from the Keilce district 1945. All of the non-United States Jewish databases are listed as free. Ancestry.com's site says this information is all free, in cooperation/partnership with the Jewish Gen site.
If you have relatives that you can't find any family information about, and they were in Poland during WWII, I highly recommend checking these records. No matter the race, age, or ethnicity. Then remember to check back again periodically. These records are just at the beginning of being released online. Right now, records available are counted in the thousands. But millions of people will be accounted for with these records.