Russian archives introduce new WWII database on Nazi victims

Databases are plentiful on those who served in the Soviet Army, but what about the civilian victims of Nazi occupation in Russia?

Now that missing piece to document the experiences those who suffered during Nazi occupation has arrived in the form of a new database.

More than 46,000 Russian victims of Nazi persecution on Russian territory are documented in the new database, “Crimes of the Nazis and their accomplices against the civilian population of the USSR during the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945.”

Naturally, there were many more victims than currently documented in this database but this is a great beginning. I expect many more records will be posted to this database.

Thankfully, this free database doesn’t involve any registration. Also, victims can be searched by name or found through the alphabetically listing separated by the Russian letters. Filters help narrow down the name searches.

Records on this database also can be viewed by regions of Russia, Belarus and the Soviet Karelia Republic and the autonomous republics here.

This information cannot be obtained from any other website. Not a chance that these records are on the noted  Arolsen Archives database. Russian archives won’t hand over these scans to a German-based organization.

Here’s how to use this database without knowing Russian:

  1. Download Google Translate or another language translator for web browsers.
  2. Use Google Translate or this website to write names in Russian.
  3.  Start simple with searching by surnames and use first names to reduce the number of results.
  4. If results don’t appear, go through names in the alphabetical listing. The surnames may be spelled differently or incorrectly in the database.
  5. To download the images,  click on the text to the right of the scanned image. If you download the small image on the left, it will be a grainy and useless scan.
  6. Then the images for the victim will appear. Click on each image to see it in full view. The image can be downloaded from here.
  7. For more information about the scans, click on the white bar that says Указатели и теги (Pointers and tags). The towns and regions mentioned in the scan will be listed first, then the victims and finally tags for the type of crimes.
  8. Make sure to save the downloads in two places.

The scans be translated in three ways.  They can be retyped using the keyboard here on Typeit and then copy and paste the text into Google Translate.

Those who have a cell phone with a working camera can download the Google Translate app onto their phone.

Once it is downloaded, click under the blue bar to set the translation to Russian- English, press on the camera image and hold the phone steady. The app will give a decent translation of the typed text within the scan.

The easiest way to get translations is to ask nicely for help on Facebook genealogy groups that focus on Russian genealogy.

Besides this database, the website has a list of Russian regional projects offered by archives on how World War II affected people of their areas. The list can be found here.

I will post again when a large update is made to this database. Follow this blog with the top right button to catch important posts on databases and helpful resources for Russian and Ukrainian genealogy.

Related posts:
New database documents 1 million WWII citizen heroes who defended Moscow
Database reveals details on citizens, evacuees and soldiers from the Siege of Leningrad
The cure for fearing Russian-language genealogy websites to make breakthroughs
Secrets of searching the Internet in Russian and Ukrainian like a native speaker
Expert guide to using Google Translate in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy

Newly published Russian genealogy guide returns to Amazon.com

“Genealogy at a Glance: Russian Genealogy Research” is back on the market after selling out the first printing. Thank you to everyone who has bought and helped me spread the word!!!

The guide is available for $9.95 with free U.S. shipping on purchases of more than $25 on Amazon.com here. Purchases within the U.S.A. also are available through the publisher, Genealogical Publishing Co. (Contact me if Amazon won’t ship to your home outside of the USA and Canada. I have copies available for international purchases.)

Topics such as Russian names, conversion to the Gregorian calendar, locating Russian ancestral places, metric books, censuses, archives, Russian consular records, online databases (not the ones listed everywhere else), the Russian alphabet and more complete the guide on Russian genealogy.

Two glowing reviews of the genealogy guide are posted on Empty Branches of the Family Tree here and the noted Kinsearching column of  Marleta Childs here.

Thanks to the publishing of the Russian genealogy guide, more major news is on the way. Follow this blog with the top right button. It’s worth the wait.

Plus since April, I have been working on a major project. I hope to announce it by late August or September, but hopefully earlier.

In the meantime, I have made updates to three pages on this blog.

The Free Databases page is completely updated with every database that has been featured on this blog over the almost 10 years. The blog post that explains how to use each database are linked in the same paragraph as the listed database.

Also, the Facebook Genealogy page has been renamed to Genealogy on Facebook. That page is updated with many more Facebook genealogy groups for Russian and Ukrainian genealogy, in addition to the other areas of eastern Europe.

The number of groups added to the page shows that genealogy is growing for those with Russian and Ukrainian ancestors.

And finally, Links to Resources has several more resources added to the page.

I am thinking of more resources and topics to cover on this blog. I have hope more online resources will continue to come after learning in May that Russian officials announced “Electronic Library of the Cossacks” is on its way. Read the news here. Yes, the link is translated into English.

Stay tuned to this blog to keep up with all the news related to Russian and Ukrainian genealogy.

The art of avoiding scams in Ukrainian and Russian genealogy

Nothing gets me more irritated than when I hear another person got scammed by “a researcher” in Ukraine or Russia.

Here’s the latest scam in Ukrainian research I learned about from a woman I’ll name Jessica: “Like many others, I fell for ******’s scam (though I wish I had done more research ahead of time, because I’m not the only one). **** has an extensive list on his website “*****************” It was during a set of years in which my great-grandfather was born. I found my great-grandfather on the list and contacted ****** about receiving the birth record, which he provided free of charge. Since I was looking for this birth record for over a year with no luck, I was thrilled to have finally found it and naturally, fell into ******’s trap of conducting paid research to investigate the line further. Before payment, ****** was extraordinarily responsive, emailing me at all hours and laying out a thorough plan. I will be honest, he does know his stuff, and that’s what makes it so easy to be swindled.”

“After payment, ***** sent a few emails: one that he couldn’t find a specific record I was looking for, but was checking a different area for it. The other email was to send records of individuals born in the same city I was researching with the same surname, though not the exact people I paid to find records of. He promised to work during the week and provide an update the following weekend. Since then, he has completely ghosted.***** does not respond to my emails and now I am working on filing various disputes/claims to get my money back.”

“Please be careful with researchers, especially the ones that seem too good to be true. Don’t let your emotions or excitement to ‘discover lost family’ get ahead of you. I believe the list my great-grandfather was on (among others) on ******’s website are there to lay a trap for people to fall into. I also believe he has an extensive collection of records that he’s scanned or photographed over the years, using them as a ‘ruse’ to provide semi-relevant updates to people who have paid for his services.”

Sadly, this is prime time for being scammed in genealogy. We are in the middle of a pandemic, which has led to financial problems around the world and people are looking for quick ways to make money.
So how is it possible to avoid these scams? Here are my tips:
1. Do not respond to private messages on social media from aggressive people claiming to be researchers. I found a great researcher who sent me a private message through Facebook. He wasn’t aggressive and offered reasonable rates.
2. Start with a small search with a new researcher.
3. Check out a researcher by searching their name on Facebook and Google. If there are too many complaints about the person, don’t fall for their charm even if he or she gives you free documents.
4. Send money using a money transfer service such as Western Union that will require the researcher to pick up the money using their government identification. Make sure that the name he or she is giving you is the same as the name on social media.
5. Check out his or her friend list on Facebook so you can see if any questionable researchers are listed as friends. You are the company you keep, as they say. Some researchers may not know their Facebook friends are scammers but scammers listed as friends are big warning flags.
6. If you can’t find a researcher in your area, message a known respected researcher from Ukraine or Russia and ask whether they know of any authentic researchers for your research area.
7. Don’t assume a researcher with a modern website in English is a legitimate researcher. People in Ukraine and Russia know that having English-language skills are a big asset in the business world.
8. Make it clear to the researcher that you want the exact location of each record that is found and the file name such as a church’s name. In Russian and Ukrainian archives, records can be found under Фонд, опись, дело or Ф., оп., д. This information is not classified or confidential. If a researcher says he or she can’t give the file locations, the researcher is questionable.
9. Do not hire a researcher who asks you to pay fees to two people, one to the “company” and another to the actual researcher. A guy unsuccessfully tried this trick on me on a Russian-language Facebook genealogy group and later he was booted off the group.
10. Ask for a list of fees (hourly rate, scanning fees and travel fees) and required deposit at the very beginning of communication. Any “researcher” who can’t give solid numbers should raise a warning flag, along with anyone demanding a large deposit.
Hopefully, these tips will lead people to the authentic researchers who help make breakthroughs and complete family trees. Genealogy research is opening up more in Ukraine and Russia so finding those real researchers will show some hope can exist in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy.
Related posts:

Ukrainian birth records from archives take down a brickwall on great-grandparents

After having success in getting my great-grandparents’ marriage record from Kharkiv archives earlier this year, I decided it was time to try my luck in Kyiv archives.

Looking through my family tree, I determined the archive scans I would love to see: birth records of my grandfather’s younger brother and my grandmother’s brother and sister and marriage records of my grandparents and great-grandparents.

The process of requesting these records started three months ago. Part of me made the search requests out of curiosity to see what would be found in archives.

Thankfully, a Ukrainian researcher helped me create formal requests for the records. (Here is a sample letter to use for Ukrainian archive record searches. Remember to use Google Translate to switch the English to Russian and then the Russian to Ukrainian.)

A month after submitting my request and the archives accepting the request, I was informed that only records dated 1936 and earlier were available.

My grandparents’ marriage record from 1939 is still sitting in the Ministry of Justice office, even though it is supposed to be public record after 75 years.

That news also put my plans to request the death record of my great-grandfather from 1946 on hold. I am disappointed but grateful that Ukraine only has a 75-year rule, unlike Russia’s 100-year rule.

Another e-mail message from archives followed a week later that the search for the records would cost 1,300 hryvnias ($47 U.S. dollars/$39 Euros). My curiosity was worth $47.

I attempted to pay the bill with Western Union but couldn’t figure it out. Thanks to having a second cousin in Kyiv, she paid my bill and I promised to pay her back.

My cousin sent me a screenshot of her payment, which I e-mailed to archives. A six-week wait ended with free scans of three birth records. My great-grandparents’ marriage record from 1920 couldn’t be found, sadly.

The differences in how my grandparents’ siblings were documented for their births in Kyiv was quite interesting and a learning experience. My granduncle, son of a rich architect, had a bottom strip of a registry book, while my grand uncle and aunt, children of a poor tailor, have full-page birth records at archives.

I assumed that my grandfather’s brother was christened in a church in 1922 when I saw this:

This top strip looks like it’s from a church book but this is an old registry book. I was determined to find the church where my great-grandparents bravely christened their youngest child during Lenin’s reign of terror until I was informed of my misunderstanding.

Everything that was written on my grandfather’s brother’s birth record I had already known for years. However, I was thrilled to finally to see the address of my great-grandparents in an official record. Plus, I saw my great-grandfather’s perfect signature for the first time on a document.

The best surprises came from the birth records of my grandmother’s brother and sister. My grandmother had told my mother that her family lived near Khreshchatyk Street in the center of Kyiv. I have spent years trying to find this address.

Finally, I can say that I know the exact address. It is listed on the birth records of my grandmother’s brother and sister. I can’t believe all these years that it had been waiting for me on these records, plus a major shocker.

Once I posted for help to find old photos of the apartment building on the largest Russian genealogy forum, I was told about a blog that has this old postcard with my great-grandparents’ apartment house on the left:

Source: https://agritura.livejournal.com/207068.html

I also posted for help on a popular Russian genealogy group on Facebook and I was directed to this photo of my great-grandparents’ apartment building’s rear streetview by Evgen Sokolovsky.

The biggest surprise on the birth record of my grand uncle, the youngest child, was that my great-grandfather admitted to being previously married and having another son. Thank you, nosy commies!

It makes me wonder whether my great-grandmother knew about her husband’s other family. My family didn’t know about it until my researcher in Kursk, Russia, accidently found the marriage and birth records a few years ago.

Now for less than $50 U.S. dollars,  I uncovered the address of my great-grandparents from the 1920s and the signed admittance that my great-grandfather had another family. Not too bad for my curiosity…

Related posts:
Old address book online breaks down brickwall on a family photo
Search for grandma’s childhood home reveals family secrets
Thanks for skimping on your taxes, great-grandpa

Newly published Russian genealogy guide available on Amazon.com in USA and Canada

The big moment finally happened. “Genealogy at a Glance: Russian Genealogy Research, ” published by Genealogical Publishing Co. is available for purchase in the USA and Canada on Amazon.com.

(Anyone who can’t get the genealogy guide shipped through Amazon, can contact me for orders outside of the U.S.A and Canada.)

The guide I wrote for three months before work, after work and on weekends can be found on Amazon here for $9.95 (U.S. dollars). Please excuse the non-splashy Amazon page for the guide.

Almost 3,000 words cover topics from archive records to the alphabet and patronymic names to communist-era databases.  It is a quick read but very thorough and handy to use on many topics involving Russian genealogy.

Learn more about the guide through this 2-minute video.

I am offering one free copy of the genealogy guide to a reader in the USA, with free shipping. Just post a comment to this blog post to enter into the drawing for the giveaway and I will contact the winner for her/his mailing address.

More than 100 copies of the guide have been sold so far. I am grateful to everyone who has bought a copy of the guide. This first generation Russian-American thanks you from bottom of her heart.

A big thank you also to everyone who has helped spread the news about the genealogy guide by sharing my posts on the publication through e-mail, social media and genealogy groups. This post can be shared with the buttons down below.

So far, I am aware of one review by Linda Stufflebean of Empty Branches of the Family Tree. Read her praises of the guide here. (Other bloggers and writers can obtain free review copies of the guide by contacting Joe Garonzik.)

I hope to slam Amazon with orders so Amazon knows there is a demand for Russian genealogy products. It is so hard to find comprehensive Russian genealogy publications on Amazon.

I have started a Facebook page for promoting the guide here.

In other news, I will be updating the Free Databases page this summer to cover all the databases mentioned in this blog over the years.

I also am working on a major project and hope to be finished this summer. I will announce what the big project is on this blog.

Follow this blog with the top right button to catch posts on important databases and guides for Russian and Ukrainian genealogy topics.

Related post:
Newly published genealogy guide will help get a better hold on Russian genealogy