This post was written by Elisabeth Zetland, researcher at MyHeritage. It was originally posted on our French blog.
I have long hoped to reconnect with the German family that had such a great impact on my grandfather’s life. I never met my maternal grandfather, Roger Dubuc. He passed away when I was only four months old. I don’t remember when I first heard his story but it quickly became a mystery that intrigued me, and I decided that I had to solve it.
Roger’s story began like that of many other French soldiers, but it suddenly took an abrupt turn. At the age of 20, on June 22, 1940, he was captured in Vannes without ever having fought in the war. When he left French soil, he didn't imagine that it would be five long years before he would return home again. His father Léon had also been a prisoner of war in Germany at the end of WWI, but had returned home after seven months.
It's always exciting when we find heirlooms or photos providing more detail into the lives of our ancestors, but this can also happen to historical events.
After some 70 years, 31 rolls of film taken by an American soldier during WWII were found. Last year, the photos were developed as part of a project entitled The Rescued Film Project.
This was the first time the public had access to this incredible historical material depicting the lives of soldiers during the war, as they offer a glimpse into our ancestors' past.
Watch the video below to learn more about the project and the photos.
Have you found any previously unknown photos revealing more detail about your ancestors' lives? Let us know in the comments below.
Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” Remembrance Day is just one way to honor the memory of our historic ancestors who fought for their lives in service.
This weekend, MyHeritage Founder & CEO Gilad Japhet was interviewed on Israel's leading prime time TV news show to discuss MyHeritage and some of its pro bono projects. These include discovering heirs for unclaimed assets confiscated in WWII, returning looted art to its rightful owners and our global crowdsourcing project with BillionGraves to digitally preserve the world's cemeteries.
Our technologies are helping millions of families around the world discover more about their history. We're happy to take our mission several steps further by proactively initiating and executing important projects that have the potential to make the world a better place. Watch the video clip with English subtitles below:
We're proud of our motto to not only do well, but also do good, and we will strive to continue in this direction in the years ahead.
What's the relationship between our history and our daily reality?
Each day we walk by our local store, our neighbor's place or the park, without realizing the stories from the past that existed in those same places many years before.
While we often think of history as antique, irrelevant and something out of the past, it can just as easily be intertwined with the present.
Imagine what it would look like if the ghosts of World War II came back to the streets today. That’s what Dutch historian Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse shows through her Ghosts of War photo series.
Laurence Harris, MyHeritage's Head of Genealogy (UK), led a small team to quickly trace the living relatives of these men who were killed in action, to invite the relatives to a ceremony on Remembrance Sunday, in which the board was rededicated and their stories retold.
Over the next few weeks, we'll demonstrate how Laurence was able to do this, while sharing some of the stories of these unsung war heroes.
Our genealogy team love challenges – so imagine the reaction of Laurence Harris, MyHeritage's Head of Genealogy (UK), when he was shown a 66-year-old Memorial Board commemorating the names of Servicemen who had died in WWII.
The board had been hidden in a rarely-used storage area for more than 30 years.
The challenge was on! Laurence volunteered to trace living family members of the men so that they could be invited to a special service to remember and honor them and to rededicate the Board.
Laurence took this as both a personal and professional challenge. He recognized the importance of learning about these forgotten heroes of the past, enabling the present generation to honor them, and ensuring that their stories are preserved for future generations.
Along the way, he discovered many interesting stories. Over the next few weeks we'll be sharing with you some of these stories and explaining how Laurence managed to trace the descendants.
Do you have stories to share about unsung war heroes in your family? Let us know in the comments below, and email relevant photos to firstname.lastname@example.org