My name is Pnina Gutman. I am 70 years old. I began the search for my biological identity in April 1996. I called this project "Who am I what's my name?" I came to Israel from Poland at the age of eight with a couple whom I thought to be my parents, Mania and Mendel Himel. As a child, I remembered living with the Himels in the town of Lodz, but it was a short time, about two years that I recall as a year in the kindergarten and a year in school. What I remembered before was an orphanage and the day the Himels were introduced to me as my [...]
The Mascot is the international best-selling Holocaust biography of Alex Kurzem...After an exhaustive international three-year search for evidence, my colleague Dr. Barry Resnick and I have discovered no proof that Mr. Kurzem’s story is true, nor has it been established that he is Jewish.
The Mascot Keith Moor, Insight Editor at the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne, Victoria recently published an article on The Mascot, the international bestselling biography of Holocaust survivor Alex Kurzem. To read the article in pdf format, click here. As Keith mentions, the foundation of the story is undeniably true. Alex was adopted by the 18th Kurzeme Latvian Police Battalion in July 1942 as a child in the forest around Minsk. Yet my colleague, college professor Dr. Barry Resnick and I have uncovered much that lends doubts to his claims that he was a Jewish boy who survived the Nazi massacre of his family six months earlier; a massacre that in some version [...]
When AFDIL attempted an identification through Y-DNA, I was asked by my colleague Dr. Odile Loreille to find a Y-DNA reference for Sidney Goodwin. We were just finishing up the identification of The Hand in the Snow, so she knew I was available for a new project. Of course, my first step was to search Ancestry.com to obtain information about the Goodwin genealogy. I immediately found Sidney's parents Frederick and Augusta in 1901 living in Middlesex with their four oldest children Lillian (5), Charles (4), William (2), and Jessie (1). Frederick was listed as a print compositer. Because Frederick and his sons perished on the Titanic, to find a Y-reference for the family I researched Frederick's [...]
To understand what happened next, you have to know a little about mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Mitochondrial DNA is contained in small, football-shaped inclusions outside the nucleus of a cell. It's widely believed that mitochondria were once independent bacteria that invaded primitive cells millions of years ago. Instead of being digested, these bacteria took up residence in the cell, forming a symbiotic relationship with it. The cell provided them with food and water, and the mitochondria provided the cell with energy for metabolism and heat. The arrangement worked out so well that millennia later, a human cell has up to 1,000 mitochondria, each carrying five to ten copies of its own genome. [...]
After eight and a half decades, there was little left of the child's body. Only a small piece of wrist bone and the crowns of three tiny baby teeth had survived the inclement weather and damp, slightly acidic soil. In the spring of 2002, when Parr and Ruffman determined that the child was not Gosta Paulson based on a mismatch between the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) obtained from the bone shard and DNA provided by a maternally-linked Paulson relative, the teeth became more significant in the identification efforts. Dr. E. J. Molto, an anthropologist and the director of the Paleo-DNA Laboratory at Lakehead University, suggested that the three teeth belonged to "quite a young child". [...]
On April 20-23 1912, on its mission from Halifax to salvage remains from the Titanic, the crew of the cable ship Mackay-Bennett pulled 306 bodies from the frigid waters of the north Atlantic. Only one of them, body No. 4, was that of a child. At the time, the best that forensic identification could offer was the observations, recorded on an index card, that the child was a boy, about two years of age, probably a third-class passanger. Since no one came to claim the baby, the crew of the Mackay-Bennett took responsibility for the child's remains, arranging a beautiful funeral for him at St. George's Anglican Church. The [...]