Imagine finding a treasure trove of documents that reveal the forgotten history of your family.
In 2009, Daniel Schwab discovered his grandfather’s collection of letters written between himself and family members, describing the beginning of the holocaust and the fallout from losing 12 family members.
"I discovered my grandfather's letter collection on a trip back to South Africa," said Schwab. "We had known about it for years but were too afraid to open it."
He says he was helping his mother clean up their garage back home when he felt the urge to finally open up the documents that had been wrapped up and closed for over 40 years.
"I was basically transported back in time. It was very difficult," Schwab explains. "You realize that you had a great, great uncle and you had great grandparents and these people just never existed in our lives and then suddenly you discover that they existed in such a real and vivid way. You see the handwriting, and you see the paper and the dates, and you realize there is a whole story there that was buried."
In the letters, Daniel says you get a dialogue between his grandfather and his father about what was going on in Germany leading up to the war and all the things they did to his family.
"They took away their possessions. They took away their livelihoods. They confiscated everything. Basic humanity was almost stripped away from them," said Schwab. "After the war, my grandfather discovered what happened to them in more detail, from neighbours and family friends who were not Jewish, and witnessed what went on."
The Schwab family lost a total of twelve family members during the Holocaust, and Daniel says there may be more.
Schwab’s grandfather spent a total of 23 years writing letters to obtain justice for his family following the holocaust. Unfortunately, that did not happen in his lifetime, but Daniel is now using those letters to educate others.
He has started something called the Holocaust Social Media Project, which he is using as an online educational platform to personalize the Holocaust for hundreds of millions of people around the world. He has included his grandfather's letters and is asking others to contribute.