By Tom Walsh

Detroit Free Press


Powerful new tools – including software to help identify remains of Sept. 11 terrorist attack victims – are being applied to solve mysteries that remain from the Holocaust of World War II.

The DNA Shoah project, announced this summer by Gene Codes founder Howard Cash at the Human Genome Organization meeting in Finland, could be the most extensive DNA detective undertaking ever, if organizers succeed in collecting DNA samples from even a fraction of the 300,000 Holocaust survivors around the world.

By creating a giant genetic database of people who lost relatives during the Holocaust when 6 million Jews were killed, the aim is to:

_Reunite families scattered by the Holocaust. As many as 10,000 so-called Holocaust orphans may have been separated and never reunited with parents and siblings.

_Identify remains that occasionally still turn up in Eastern Europe.

_Use modern forensic science tools to teach future generations about the Holocaust.

Rene Lichtman, 68, of West Bloomfield, Mich., a child survivor of the Holocaust, sees potential benefit in the project.

“Even today we hear stories of child survivors from Poland who were hidden and raised by Christians, who finally learn they are Jewish in deathbed conversations with their adoptive parents,” he said.

These people, who have strong identity issues, could be reunited with blood relatives, said Lichtman, a member of the executive committee of the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust.