Last November, Syd Mandelbaum read news accounts that bones dating from the Nazi era had been found during roadwork in Stuttgart, Germany. "The German government contacted the Israeli police to see if it could help identify the remains, but they could not," recalls Mandelbaum, who soon learned that other mass graves from the same period had just been uncovered in Poland and elsewhere in Germany in development projects. With no way to identify remains, the governments didn't know what to do with the bones.

The news hit a nerve with Mandelbaum, who had three grandparents murdered and burned at Auschwitz and whose grandfather worked as a slave laborer and disappeared in 1943. "I believe that his bones may lie somewhere in a shallow grave," says Mandelbaum, who developed the first videotape archive of Holocaust survivors and camp liberators 25 years ago with the Israel Holocaust Authority. When he contacted the...

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