A Computer Database Card-index of Jews deported to Ghetto Terezin
The original card-index is in the Czech Republic.
Same has been copied in the beginning of the seventies, in time that in Czechoslovakia ruled the Communist, strongly anti-Zionist reign. It was at the time, Czechoslovakia (as all states of the communist block) cut the diplomatic ties with Israel , Israelis were not allowed to visit this country and the copying was a brave and secret mission in which many of the Association members took part in, with the support of Dr. Weiss, then an active member of the Jewish Community in Vienna. After the copied card-index found its place in Beit Terezin, requests from Israel and from other countries from all over the world, to obtain information regarding the fate of the Jews that were imprisoned in the ghetto, were answered by sending to the applicants photo copies of the relevant cards. The cards are partly typed on a typewriter and a larger part of them hand-written, out of these also a part in Gothic letters, which nowadays not many people can read. The photocopies of the card index were originally made on a low quality paper, and with the time faded. As a result of this, some parts on these cards are illegible. There were also some cards that were difficult to decipher in any case. Therefore, following exhausting discussions, the Committee decided that it is essential to bring the contents of this card index into computer.
It happened at the beginning of 1991 - when the computer technology was not on to-days level. There was no possibility to bring even the legible cards into the data base by optic scanning and the solution to do it by hand was the only possibility within the limits. In order not to endanger the cards it was decided to forbid taking them away from Beit Terezin. A special form was programmed onto all the data from the cards were handwritten transferred. Card by card.
Even before start of this project - some principles were agreed upon. Some of the cards were written in Czech and part of them in German, and as we wanted to enable easy access to the data base to as many users as possible, it was decided to built the data bank in English. Because of this, it was derived to determine an orthographic method of copying of the people's names and the geographic sites, wherein special letters were included, in Czech and in German - without harming the basic data.
We were unable to find on market a computer program that could answer all our needs. The companies that dealt with it demanded much high prices than we could afford. In the end a friend of ours, an expert in this field, volunteered and wrote a program for us "by measure". Since the finances for this project were very limited, it was decided to mobilize for the job, members of our Association. Their response and willingness were far beyond the expected - tens of members came to Beit Terezin for many months and dedicated hours and hours to deciphering the cards and transcription onto the forms.
During this copying work there was often need to verify the data by crossing with some other additional sources, such as the cards of other family members, transports numbers, to and from the ghetto, lists of various Communities and more. After the copying stage was completed, different people effected three proof-readings and controls of each form and form, in order to secure that no mistakes infiltrated into it. After the copying onto the forms, their contents were transcribed into computer. Volunteer Association members who had a computer in their possession also done this. Each volunteer person got part of the forms to transcribe into computer at his/her home - also for this project a special and unique program was prepared. After the in-put, the data were transmitted onto a disc, which was brought to Beit Terezin. (e- mail was not widely in use at that time ), to feed it onto a hard disc. The computerized card index cancelled the procedure of photocopying the original cards, most of which are illegible today, in any case. Requests for information about prisoners of the ghetto are reaching us daily. Part of them by the sons and relatives, who wish to follow the fate of their dearest ones. There are requests for data needed to state legal facts for financial claims, personal compensation, etc. The data bank serves researchers, writers, historians and students who need the classified information such as a list of deportees from a certain town or a of certain transport, or of people borne in a particular year or similar.
The work done on the database is continuous. Complementary and additional information from all over the world and diverse sources, is being added to the data bank - taken from testimonies, books, historic documents and lists of victims from various places. Today, after the fall of the Communist regime, there is a cooperation with the Central Memorial Institute at the town Terezin (PAMATNIK TEREZIN). A circular questionnaire was distributed these days among the Association members, wherein they are requested to supply additional biography particulars in order to enrich the original database.