We have often discussed the importance of building family trees and how genealogy can be used to make exciting family discoveries.
Gilad Japhet, MyHeritage's Founder & CEO, read an article a few months ago concerning the compensation for Jewish-owned German property that had been confiscated by the Nazis during World War II.
The article linked to a list compiled by the Claims Conference of around 40,000 properties (homes, buildings, stores and factories) located in former East Germany. The descendants of these property owners are entitled to compensation.
Gilad initiated a project to use MyHeritage resources to try and match the people on this list, the original property owners, with their living descendants.
For over 60 years, the authorities were unable to locate descendants from the list. Many original property owners had fled Germany, or perished during the Holocaust.
Using MyHeritage’s genealogy tools including our search engine, SuperSearch, Gilad and a team were able to find those individuals and families eligible to make a claim for compensation.
A testament to the importance of having your family tree online, our technology began to find matches instantly.
With these discoveries, MyHeritage began to contact family tree owners to let them know that their relative was eligible to make a claim. In some cases, it was the person who created the tree that was eligible. So far, some 150 people have been contacted, and the search continues.
We’re proud of the positive feedback we have received from the families we contacted. All the families who we spoke with were sincerely grateful that we had brought this to their attention.
This initiative is being done by MyHeritage for no financial return whatsoever, but rather as a good deed to help connect heirs with their rightful compensation.
A journalist from the Associated Press, decided to write about this project in the hope it would lead to more eligible claimants coming forward. The article appeared in major news websites such as a Yahoo! News and NBC.
We're glad to have been able to help people through our genealogical tools and resources, and will continue to help those we can.