International Tracing Service


Acquisition of Documents  ↑ 

In addition to storing and organizing the documents, the ITS also had the task of collecting records. For the acquisition of documents employees of the ITS made copies in various archives, especially following the opening of the borders in Eastern Europe in the 90s. At times, the ITS is also given or sent originals. The systematic acquisition of documents was suspended in 2006 since archives are now almost everywhere accessible. Today the acquisition of documents occurs only sporadically.

Alphabetic-phonetic system  ↑ 

The reference cards in the ITS Central Name Index are not only filed by the correct spelling of the name of a person concerned (alphabetic system), but also by its pronunciation (phonetic system). Thus despite the various spellings of his or her name, all documents relating to a person may be found.

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee  ↑ 
Abbreviation: AJDC, JDC, Joint

An international Jewish relief organization established in 1914. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is also known under its abbreviation "Joint".

Amt für die Erfassung der Kriegsopfer / Office for the Registration of War Victims, Berlin  ↑ 
Abbreviation: AEK

Founded as successor of the Zentralnachweisamt für Kriegsgräber und Kriegsverluste (ZAK) (Central Office for Giving Evidence on War Graves and War Losses) in 1945, the office had a wide spectrum of tasks, including: registering war victims' graves, carrying out investigations for prisoners of war, certifying  the deaths of concentration camp inmates as well as administering war victims' estates. Following the merger of the Amt für die Erfassung von Kriegsopfern (AEK) and the Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt) in 1951, the ITS received a part of its files.

Anti-Semitism  ↑ 

Coined in the 1870s, it is a collective term for various forms of the modern hatred of Jews. In the early 20th century, anti-Semitism shifted its base from religious to ‘scientific’ – based on supposed biological traits. Anti-Semitism after 1933 culminated in the Holocaust.

Archival requests  ↑ 

Requests to the ITS for research and pedagogical purposes.

Aryans  ↑ 

Ethnological-linguistical expression for people in Iran and India who have similar languages; it was wrongly used in the 18th century as a synonym for "Indogermermanic." The pseudo-scientific Nazi raciology interpreted the expression "Aryan" as a collective term for "Nordic, German, and congeneric blood," especially in opposition to Jews, Sinti, and Roma.

Asocials  ↑ 

According to Nazi ideology, "asocial" people "disturbed the life of the people's community." Homeless, beggars, people on welfare, alcoholics and prostitutes were persecuted, imprisoned in concentration camps and sometimes forcibly sterilized under the category of "asocials".

Assembly Camp  ↑ 

In Sammellagern (Assembly Camps), the Nazis gathered the people together to subsequently transport them in large groups to other camps.

Assembly Camps for Jews  ↑ 

The Nazis established special Sammellager für Juden (Assembly Camps for Jews) to isolate and 'concentrate' the Jewish population before deporting them to the concentration and extermination camps, as they did with the persons kept prisoner in the other assembly camps.

Baubrigade / Construction brigade  ↑ 

A so-called Baubrigade (construction brigade) comprised a definite number of prisoners assigned to various forced labor services. They were allotted particularly strenuous and dangerous work, e.g. removing bombs after air attacks.

Baustab Speer / Construction Group Speer  ↑ 

A sub-division of the "Generalbauinspektion für die Reichshauptstadt" (GBI) (Construction Inspector General for the Reich's Capital) created in 1939 and named Baustab Speer (construction group Speer) after its head, the architect Albert Speer. It did military construction work.

Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo) und des Sicherheitsdienstes (SD) / Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service  ↑ 
Abbreviation: BdS

Installed on the occupied territories by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), the Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo) und des Sicherheitsdienstes (SD) (Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service) had the task of implementing a variety of persecution actions and pushing through other strategic interests the Nazis had with regard to security. Subordinate to these chiefs were commanders (KdS) and regional Einsatzgruppen (task forces) who helped them execute their tasks.

Block  ↑ 

Block was the Nazi denomination for premises or shacks in concentration camps that housed the prisoners. The so-called Blockbuch included the names of inmates and changes in their numbers.

Camps  ↑ 

The National Socialist camp system consisted of a wide variety of camp types which differed in various degrees with regard to structure, function, organization, size and length of existence. Considering the metamorphoses and functional changes many camps underwent, it is extremely difficult to subsume them into a specific camp type. Therefore the various categorizations give only a first hint to the actual camp type. Political opponents, Jews, Sinti and Roma, homosexuals, Jehova's witnesses and so called asocials were incarcerated in concentration camps. In addition to these camps there were transit camps, ghettos, homes in which handicapped people were killed and camps for forced laborers and prisoners of war. The total number of camps reaches tens of thousands.

Carding  ↑ 

The carding of documents is an ITS-specific procedure allowing of the selective and systematic search for names. The names mentioned in the documents are registered and recorded together with further data, such as the date of birth, on separate cards which are subsequently included in the Central Name Index with the goal of successively completing that index.

Care and Maintenance  ↑ 
Abbreviation: CM

Set up on 15 December 1946, the International Refugee Organization (IRO) counted among its tasks to give "Care and Maintenance" (CM) to Displaced Persons (DPs) and Refugees until their repatriation or emigration. In this context the registration, approval and organization of care and assistance were the main task of the IRO. Whether DPs were granted care depended on a check of their eligibility and legitimacy of their DP status.

Catalog of Camps and Prisons  ↑ 

Over the decades, the ITS had regularly published a catalog of camps and prisons. The last version, “List of camps and prisons under the ‘Reichsführer SS,’” came out in 1979 and, in contrast to previous editions, listed only the camps. For this reason, a supplementary manual appeared that included background information on the detention locations, as well as other types of camps, such as ghettos and prisons. This project was discontinued in 1984. Meanwhile, there is now an Online-Catalog of Camps and Prisons from the Federal Archives based on the previous ITS directories, as well as further encyclopedias from other institutions such as Yad Vashem and the USHMM.

Central Location Index  ↑ 
Abbreviation: CLI

An organization headquartered in New York between 1944 and 1949 and formed as a cooperative project of various organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish, to maintain a central list of names of people who went missing as a result of the Holocaust and the war and were sought by relatives.

Central Name Index  ↑ 
Abbreviation: CNI

The Zentrale Namenkartei (ZNK) (Central Name Index (CNI) comprises approximately 50 million cards relating to the fate of 17.5 million individuals persecuted by the Nazis and their Allies. As various nationalities and languages have mixed in the index, an alphabetic-phonetic filing system was chosen and made for the ITS.

Central Tracing Bureau  ↑ 
Abbreviation: CTB

Set up by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) in February 1944, the Central Tracing Bureau was managed by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) until June 1947. The bureau, first stationed in Frankfurt am Main, was moved to Arolsen in 1946. On 1 July 1947 the International Refugee Organization (IRO) took over the CTB, which started accomplishing its tasks on 1 January 1948 under its current name, i.e. International Tracing Service (ITS).

Certificate of incarceration  ↑ 

Confirmation of the period of incarceration a persecuted person underwent during the Nazi reign. Issued by the International Tracing Service (ITS), this certificate was used to claim compensation.

Child Search Branch  ↑ 

The child tracing service also known as Child Search Branch was established as separate department within the UNRRA in 1945 and continued to be a unit of its own within the UNRRA's successors. Its central task was the search for missing children and the immediate care for unaccompanied children who were persecuted by the Nazis. In September 1950 the Child Search Branch was integrated within the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen where it has, with altered conditions, pursued its activities to this day.

CM/1 file  ↑ 
Abbreviation: CM/1

CM/1 files were opened by the International Refugee Organization (IRO) under its care program for Displaced Persons (DPs) between 1947 and 1951. CM/1 relates to the type of form sheet used by the IRO: The letters CM stand for "Care and Maintenance", while the figure 1 indicates the type of questionnaire applied at the time. The ITS archives keep around 350,000 envelopes with documents from DP Camps situated in Germany, Austria, Italy and England. This series of CM/1 case files generally includes so-called "Applications for Assistance" created by the IRO to state the eligibility of the applicants' claims.

Compensation  ↑ 

According to several compensation laws, sSurvivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution were eligible to restitution or compensation payments by the German authorities. The ITS provided primary material (excerpts from documents) to the survivors so that they could submit a claim for compensation.

Concentration Camp  ↑ 
Abbreviation: KZ, CC

During their reign, the National Socialists erected 24 main concentration camps with a network of thousands of subcamps and auxiliary camps. The Nazis maintained the camps to oppress minorities and political opponents, to murder millions of human beings, and to exploit prisoners by slave labor.

Concentration Camp Cemeteries  ↑ 

These were cemeteries, usually with corresponding memorial stones, in which the former inmates of the German concentration camps were buried after the end of World War II. The concentration camp cemeteries were often a result of the death marches on which the prisoners were forced shortly before the end of World War II. The dead bodies were recovered along the routes of the death marches and buried on the site of the fromer concentration camps or in special burial places. The Allied forces also buried fromer prisoners in these cemeteries who died shorty before or after liberation. The Nazis did not bury their victims in cemeteries but burned the dead bodies and spread or digged the ashes in the surrounding fields.

Court Martial Proceedings  ↑ 

The ITS keeps copies of records from war trials, especially the Nuremberg trials, in its archives. The trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of the political, military, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany. The ITS also keeps a few records of war time martial court proceedings against enlisted volunteers (Hilfswillige) from the occupied territories.

Death book  ↑ 

The National Socialists entered the names of registered prisoners who perished or were murdered in concentration camps in so-called "Totenbüchern" (death books). In extermination camps, where the prisoners were murdered directly upon arrival, the Nazis did not keep any death books.

Death March  ↑ 

A term coined by prisoners to rephrase the emptying of the concentration and extermination camps by the SS in the last months of the war which the Nazis had called evacuation. Compelled to move away from the approaching Allies, the prisoners had to cover hundreds of kilometres, either going upcountry on marches for days or sitting in open freight cars and on ships moved to outlying regions.

Deportation  ↑ 

Forcible abduction of people from their home country. The Nazis deported Jews, Sinti and Roma and other minorities in concentration camps for the purpose of exclusion, isolation, exploitation and murder. The bureaucracy veiled the real intention of the deportations behind euphemistic expressions like "evacuations" or "resettlement". In addition, the Germans displaced millions of prisoners of war and civilians from their homelands to bring them as a forced laborer to Germany.

Deposit of T/D Correspondence Files  ↑ 

The ITS deposit of T/D correspondence files where the incoming and outgoing correspondence between the tracing service and public authorities, as well as the victims of Nazi persecution and their family members, are filed. The files include inquiries, letters and even contemporary witness reports written by persons who turned to the tracing service to obtain information on the documents still preserved or to search for any family members still alive. These requesters often needed documentary evidence to claim indemnification or verify their pension applications. If more than 25 years old, the correspondence concerned is accessible for historical research.

Detainment Camp  ↑ 

The term was used during World War II to denote internment camps primarily holding a certain group of people or so called "enemy aliens" which have a specific criterion or feature in common. An example of this camp type is the British Detainment Camp on the island of Mauritius where Jewish refugees from Europe who were refused to emigrate to Palestine were kept between 1940 and 1945.

Deutsche Dienststelle / German Service Office  ↑ 
Abbreviation: WASt

The Deutsche Dienststelle (German Service Office) took up service on 26 August 1939 under its official title "Wehrmachtauskunftstelle für Kriegerverluste und Kriegsgefangene” (WASt) (German Armed Forces Information Office for War Losses and Prisoners of War) as office of the Superior Commando of the Wehrmacht. The WASt gave notice to the next of kin if German Wehrmacht members fell in action. Renamed in January 1951, the agency's new official paraphrase retained the original name in the bracketed abbreviation WASt. The office is mainly responsible for the provision of information and confirmations on war deaths, death declaration procedures, war graves, clarification of the fates of missing soldiers, forces' postal service numbers, estate matters, military service times, captivity, care of war victims, Reichsarbeitsdienst (Reich labor service) and military criminal matters.

Digitization  ↑ 

The process by which the ITS scans the documents contained within the archives to preserve them and make them more accessible. The process started in 1998. All the historical documents have been scanned. The ITS is now digitising the correspondence files, so called T/D cases.

Displaced Persons  ↑ 
Abbreviation: DP, DPs

The term “Displaced Persons” refers to persons freed from concentration camps, forced labor and, in part, also captivity at the end of the Second World War. They found shelter in so-called DP camps, were repatriated to their countries of origin or immigrated to third countries.

DP Camp  ↑ 

Camps the Allies opened for Displaced Persons to secure shelter, medical care and nourishment and to provide them with further assistance or help. The Allies used former concentration camps, former Wehrmacht premises, hospitals or private buildings as DP Camps. A rich cultural, social and religious life developed in the camps. Some of the camps existed into the early 1950s. The last DP Camp was closed in 1959.

Early Concentration Camps  ↑ 

The so-called "Early Concentration Camps", also known as "unofficial concentration camps," were established as of March 1933 for the imprisonment of political opponents, among them communists or social democrats. Lacking a standard or uniform underlying system, most of these camps were provisionally set up in locations already used to similar ends and ceased to exist after a few months. The camps were under the control of the SA or Gestapo. They were supplanted by the new-established and systematized ulterior concentration camps. Dachau, the first concentration camp, became the model for the concentration camp system.

Emigration  ↑ 

Leaving one's home country or area to take up permanent residence in another. Blocks were placed on emigration during and around World War II. The ITS keeps in its archives documents on the emigration of Displaced Persons in the post-war era.

Emsland Camps  ↑ 

The so-called "Emsland Camps" comprise 15 detention sites located either in the rural district of Emsland or in the rural district of Grafschaft Bentheim. Centrally managed and directed from Papenburg, the camps had changing functions, serving as concentration camps, prisoner of war camps and penal camps. The inmates of the camps were mainly assigned to the "cultivation of the marshland."

Entry Book, Entry List  ↑ 

The Nazis considered all the prisoners who were new arrivals to one of the National Socialist camps and who had been registered by the camp management to be "Zugänge" (entries). Their names and numbers were recorded in a so-called Zugangsbuch (Entry Book) or Zugangsliste (Entry List).

Evidence of employment  ↑ 

Certificate made out by the ITS in confirmation of a person’s forced laborer status during or displaced person’s (DP) status after the war. Requesters often used this evidence of employment to substantiate their compensation or pension claims.

Excerpt from Documents  ↑ 

A typed form which includes all information about a persecutee that the ITS could extract from the original concentration camp documents. Excerpts from documents mostly served for legal requirements, compensation cases and applications for a pension. Today excerpts from documents are only rarely needed.

Exchange or Holding Camp  ↑ 

The Nazi regime used exchange or holding camps as internment sites for Jews and foreigners. The prisoners were supposed to be exchanged for German civilian internees on the enemy's territory abroad, for raw materials or foreign currency. They had the role of hostages the Nazis took to secure other countries' neutrality or goodwill. Compared with other camps, general conditions were better here, although they deteriorated notably towards the war end. Only a portion of the prisoners were allowed to leave, for instance to Switzerland by way of exchange; for many of them, though, the holding camps turned out to be stops on their transport route to the extermination camps.

Extermination camps  ↑ 

The Vernichtungslager (extermination or death camps) were part of the National Socialist camp system. Established late in 1941, the camps served the sole purpose of murdering the prisoners upon arrival. More than three million European Jews and Sinti and Roma were murdered in the gas chambers and gas vans of the Nazi extermination camps. The six largest Vernichtungslager were Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Lublin-Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka.

File number  ↑ 

Previous filing mode applied by ITS to register requests for several persons on one application sheet (more than five). The number may figure on a reference card of the Central Name Index.

Finding Aids  ↑ 

Within the ITS, finding aids describe the content of one archival record group and shall guide the user to the holdings, records and other units of the archives. The arrangement of the finding aids depends either on the structure of the institution that once created the records, or on a topical sub-division of records. The number of finding aids will gradually be increased.

Forced Labor  ↑ 

According to estimates, more than twelve million human individuals - among them civilians, concentration camp inmates and prisoners of war - were employed as forced laborers in World War II. They were exploited in all sectors of German economy.

Forced Labor Camp  ↑ 

Detainment camps for prisoners forced to engage in penal labor; the early labor camps were primarily composed of the "undesirables" or "asocials."

Foundlings  ↑ 

ITS uses the term “foundling” to describe the parentless children who survived concentration and forced labor camps and whose origin or family background was unknown. The child search branch at the ITS attempted to clarify the origins of the children and to find their relatives or an adoptive family.

Geheime Staatspolizei  ↑ 
Abbreviation: Gestapo

The Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) was the political police of the Nazi state and as such a central instrument of Nazi terror. Evolved from the political police of the Weimar Republic as of 1933, the Gestapo came to be integrated within the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Main Office for Reich Security) as its Department IV in 1939. The Gestapo was responsible for the systematic combat of any actual or apparent political opponents of the Nazi regime, for the persecution and deportation of the Jews and for the supervision of foreign forced laborers. The Gestapo had far-reaching executive power, e.g. it could impose on virtually anyone "Schutzhaft" (protective custody) in prisons and concentration camps without prior examination of the underlying offence by a judge.

General Documents  ↑ 

As opposed to the personal documents in the ITS archives, general documents normally do not contain information about individual fates. Rather, they provide information about the organization and structure of Nazi persecution, for instance about the camp system or measures of persecution.

General Government  ↑ 

The Polish regions, which were not directly incorporated into Reich territory, were called Generalgouvernement (General Government, districts of Warsaw, Lublin, Radom, Lviv and Krakow). They were under a special administration.

General requests  ↑ 

The ITS considers as general requests all inquiries that are not placed by researchers or family members, such as requests for information on the institution, on the service given to visitors, or on publications.

Generalbauinspektor für die Reichshauptstadt / General Building Inspector for the Capital  ↑ 
Abbreviation: GBI

The Generalbauinspektor für die Reichshauptstadt (GBI) (Construction Inspector General for the Reich's Capital) was set up as an office directly answerable to Hitler in 1937. The GBI's mandate consisted of architecturally re-shaping the Reich's Capital to be a reflection and representation of National Socialist power. The architect Albert Speer was appointed as (head of the) Construction Inspector General. Accomplishing its tasks, the GBI was involved in the expulsion of Jews from their homes, their deportation and the employment of forced laborers.

Germanization  ↑ 

Germanization was the forceful spread of German language, population, and culture. The policy of Germanization in the Nazi period carried an explicitly ethno-racial meaning for the spread of a "biologically superior" Aryan race rather than that of the German nation. Germans settled in the in the occupied territories (following the ideology of a new "Lebensraum"), minorities were expelled, imprisoned or murdered and the local language and culture suppressed.

Gestapa Berlin / Office of the Secret State Police  ↑ 

The Geheime Staatspolizeiamt (Gestapa) Berlin (Office of the Secret State Police) were the general headquarters of the Gestapo.

Ghetto  ↑ 

The residential areas in which Jews were forced to live separated from the rest of the population. The Nazi ghettos served as interim solutions to concentrate and exploit the Jews prior to systematically killing them in the so-called “Final Solution.” Daily life in the ghettos was marked by fear, hunger, disease, pestilence, and death. Most ghettoes were established after the start of World War II in Poland, the Baltic countries, and occupied territories of the Soviet Union. The largest ghettos were located in Warsaw, Lodz, and Lemberg (Lviv).

Gleichschaltung  ↑ 

Describes the elimination of all and any opposition through the total assimilation of all social and cultural fields to the ideology of National Socialism that started upon Hitler’s seizure of power in spring 1933.

Grave Search  ↑ 

The International Tracing Service’s grave search (Grabermittlung) occurred primarily in the 1950s and brought together various pieces of information and details from documents about graves and unidentified dead. The information used included the location of tombs, identifying prisoner numbers on clothing, and death march routes.

Group P.P.  ↑ 

The abbreviation P.P. stands for "Prisons and Persecution" and relates to a collection in the ITS archives that mainly contains information on the imprisonment and persecution of persons outside concentration camps.

Gypsies  ↑ 

Since before the Nazi era, the term "Zigeuner" (Gypsies) was applied to ethnic and social groups of individuals - often accompanied by various, mostly pejorative, attributes. The consequences this had, i.e. the individuals' stigmatization and negative connotation with racially-ideologically motivated persecution and annihilation ("Porajmos") in Nazism, have caused the term to recede more and more in a variety of European languages and be replaced by self-image terms, e.g. terms created by the social group for itself, like Sinti and Romanies.

Historical Section  ↑ 

The primary tasks of the former "Historical Section" within the ITS were to work with the catalog of camps and prisons and evaluate the so-called general documents.

Hollerith Card  ↑ 

Special punch cards produced in the early post-war era for children who had been reported missing or were found parentless.

Humanitarian Requests  ↑ 

Humanitarian Requests is an ITS expression for inquiries by survivors or family members of victims in order to receive information from the documents, to clarify the fate of persecutees or to reunite families.

Individual Documents  ↑ 

Documents relating to individuals which are sorted alphabetically by names.

Informal Requests  ↑ 

Requests that do not come under the competence of the International Tracing Service (ITS). As a rule, ITS here either writes an answer referring the sender to the proper office, or passes the request directly on to that agency.

Inquiry card  ↑ 

Inquiry cards are produced for new requests submitted to ITS, with a separate card being created for every name/every spelling. The mentioned card includes concise respectively summarized information on the ordeal of the person concerned and the inquirer. The original of the card is filed in the electronic Central Name Index, a copy of it in the pertinent T/D-case file.

Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration  ↑ 
Abbreviation: ICEM

The Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration was established as Provisional International Committee for the Movement of Migrants in Europe (PICMME) in 1951 to help Europe's Governments with the resettlement of fugitives from war after the Second World War. The Committee coordinated the migration of almost one million individuals in the 1950s.

International Commission for the International Tracing Service  ↑ 

The work of the International Tracing Service (ITS) is supervised by an International Commission of eleven member states (Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom and the USA). The legal basis were the 1955 Bonn Agreements and the 2006 amendment protocol which were replaced by the Agreement on the International Tracing Service of December 9, 2011.

International Refugee Organization  ↑ 
Abbreviation: IRO

Founded as successor of the UNRRA in 1946, the International Refugee Organization (IRO) took up work in July 1947 which, in addition to the care for and repatriation of Displaced Persons, included their migration to a third country now. The IRO discontinued its activities in January 1952 and was replaced by the bureau of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Internment Camp  ↑ 

Internment camps served during World War II as detention centers, mainly for foreigners from enemy or neutral countries or for Germans who had fled the Nazi regime and were caught again by the advancing German troops. Internment camps were not specifically Nazi camps but also existed in other countries for "enemy aliens".

Inventory Card File  ↑ 

The inventory card file is a description of the collection of documents from the early days of the ITS. In contrast to the general inventory, the entries are not sorted chronologically by receipt of the documents, but rather by topic. They also include information about the source of the document, the places and nationalities that are mentioned, as well as the time periods covered. In this respect the inventory card file was used as a finding aid. The “Wartime Documents” inventory card, which was run until 1951, is particularly comprehensive.

Jugendverwahrlager / Detention Camps for Juveniles  ↑ 

In the so-called Jugendverwahrlager (Detention Camps for Juveniles) the Nazis interned non-German children and adolescents until the age of 16 which they considered conspicious or criminal. Generally they had to do forced labor and were examined for their Eindeutschungsfähigkeit (capability to become Germans). An example of this type of camp is the Polen-Jugendverwahrlager in Litzmannstadt/Lodz in which Polish children and adolescents were held.

Juvenile Detention and Reform Camp  ↑ 

see Protective Custody Camp for Juveniles

Labor book  ↑ 

The labor book was issued for all persons who were forced laborers in Nazi Germany. In addition to the personal data, the book includes information on the profession, employers and times of employment.

Labor card  ↑ 

The labor card includes information relating to the slave labor of a prisoner within a concentration camp and in the sub-camps (Außenkommandos). Sometimes, the date of the prisoner's transfer to another labor command is mentioned. Labor cards were also issued for forced laborers detailing their assignments in companies.

Labor Reform Camps  ↑ 
Abbreviation: AEL

Installed in Nazi Germany during the Second World War, labor education camps were under the sole control of the Gestapo. As part of the Nazis' policy of repression, they were the means to confine German laborers at first and later on foreign and in particular Eastern European civilian laborers for a limited duration. Conceiving detention in an Arbeitserziehungslager (AEL) to be police-specific or police-owned action carried out to educational or corrective ends, the Nazis could intern individuals without a prior court sentence. Internment and labor conditions in the camps were comparable to prisoners' conditions in the concentration camps.

Lebensborn e.V.  ↑ 

The Lebensborn e.V. ("source of life") was an association established in 1935 and run by the SS. Its aim was to increase the birth rate of "Aryan" children from extramarital relations of "racially pure and healthy" parents through anonymous birth and mediation of adoption, particularly families of SS-members. Children meeting the racial ideal of appearance as propagated by the Nazi ideology were also abducted from the German-occupied territories. Veiling their identities, the Nazis placed these children in orphanages or children’s homes and “germanized” them.

Letter numbers  ↑ 

Former mode of registration at the ITS concerning personal requests for which no documents could be found (1958 – 1980).

Liaison Mission  ↑ 

Description will follow

List Material  ↑ 

The ITS calls collections of personal documents sorted by concentration camps List Material. Examples of list material are: Transport lists, prisoners' lists, death lists, execution lists, name registers of freed prisoners.

Medical experiments  ↑ 

Between September 1939 and April 1945, a variety of approximately 70 pseudo-medical research projects was carried out in the concentration camps. At least 7,000 individuals were compelled to undergo experiments, which, for the most part, were supported by and performed on behalf of military respected state health offices and universities.

Nacht und Nebel  ↑ 

On December 7th, 1941 the so-called Nacht und Nebel Decree (Night and Fog) has been issued. Those suspected of resistance in Western Europe were abducted to Germany in widespread covert actions in order to be tried by special courts. The relatives of these prisoners were left in complete uncertainty, which was meant to break the resistance in the respective countries. Prisoners who were not shot immediately without any jurisdiction were transferred to concentration camps as well as prisons on the territory of the "Reich".

Nationality  ↑ 

Throughout history and the Second World War, nationality changed. At times people viewed their nationality differently than the one ascribed to them. Many victims of the Holocaust changed their perception of their own nationality over the course of war and preferred to relate to a different group.

NS-Euthanasie (Nazi euthanasia)  ↑ 

The term NS-Euthanasie (Nazi euthanasia) denotes the systematic murder of the physically and mentally handicapped and the mentally disordered.

Number Index  ↑ 

Due to the number indexes, the documents are accessible by the prisoners numbers issued in the various concentration camps. The reference cards sorted in this way are duplicates of the name cards kept in the Central Name Index. Many documents to which the number index refers show no names.

Occupied Eastern Territories  ↑ 

Nazi language used to refer to the so-called "Ostland" (the Baltic States and parts of White Russia) and the Ukraine as "Occupied Eastern territories". The Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete (Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories) organized and supervised the "Germanization" of the territories as well as the annihilation of the Jews from Eastern Europe.

Order of the Allied Forces no 163  ↑ 

In December 1945 and January 1946 the four Military Governments ordered German authorities to support the tracing bureaus in their pertinent zones. The authorities had to carry out investigations on foreigners, who had been staying in the administrative districts since September 1939, be it for a short time or permanently, be it voluntarily or involuntarily. The authorities also had to report the whereabouts of German Jews. The information compiled as a result of this order was listed by specific categories. More than two million of these lists are kept at the ITS.

Organisation Todt  ↑ 
Abbreviation: OT

The organization, established on a military model in 1938 and named after its founder Fritz Todt, came under the command of the Minister of the Reich for arming and ammunition in March 1940. It was primarily used to perform construction work on the territories occupied by Germany.

Penitentiary Camp  ↑ 

While labor was already regarded as an essential component of the penal system before the Nazis' seizure of power, they reinterpreted the idea of disciplinary labor in the penal system for their own benefit, i.e. adjusting it to their conceptions. The prisoners kept in the penitentiary camps had to do hardest labor day by day and were exposed to their guards' high-handed violence. In the so-called Emsland camps, the prisoners were used to cultivate the marshland. Others had to help with the construction of roads and bridges. In the last war months, i.e. from autumn 1944, most inmates of the camps were assigned to the armaments industry.

Personal Effects  ↑ 

Personal belongings taken from the prisoners when they were deported to a concentration camp. The International Tracing Service (ITS) still keeps about 2,800 of these personal effects from Neuengamme and Dachau. The kind and number of the stolen objects were noted down on the so-called effects’ cards.

Police Prison Camp  ↑ 

The Police prison camps and police prisons the Nazis set up on the German-occupied territories varied widely with regard to their structure and functions. The fact that they were not subordinated to a centralized command makes it difficult to define them. In Norway, the Netherlands, the Reichskommissariat Ostland as well as the Reichskommissariat Ukraine, they generally were under the control of the pertinent German civilian administration, whereas they answered to the military administration in Belgium, France, Serbia and Greece, to the pertinent Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD in the countries of Europe's East and South East and to the national authorities in charge in Croatia and Italy. The German-administered police prison camps on the occupied territories operated under various designations or names, which pointed to the functions the camp type in question had, such as Auffanglager (Reception Camp), Durchgangslager (Transit Camp) or Sammellager für Juden (Assembly Camp for Jews).

Police Transit Camp  ↑ 

see Police Prison Camp

Predecessor Organizations of the ITS  ↑ 

Upon request by the Headquarters of the Allied Forces, the British Red Cross set up the Central Tracing Bureau in February, 1944, to register and be able to trace missing persons. Administration transferred to the International Refugee Organization in July, 1947, and it was renamed the International Tracing Service on 1 January, 1948.

Prisoners of War  ↑ 

The Nazis frequently recruited members of the Allied armies they had taken prisoner for forced labor. The ITS preserves documents on these prisoner-of-war assignments only. Generally the institution cannot provide any information or initiate any investigations on prisoners of war.

Prisoner’s Identification Sheet, Prisoner's Card  ↑ 

Form sheets used to register prisoners in concentration camps.

Protective Custody Camp  ↑ 

To bring Schutzhaft (protective custody) into practice, the Nazis opened Schutzhaftabteilungen (protective custody departments) in police and Gestapo prisons, as well as partly in regular prisons and penitentiaries. A large number of the persons detained there were deported to concentration camps after a while.

Protective Custody Camp for Juveniles  ↑ 

The Nazis used the camps they euphemistically called Jugendschutzlager (Protective Custody Camp for Juveniles) and Jugendverwahrlager (Detention Camps for Juveniles) to intern and systematically re-educate children and adolescents who did not follow the Nazi ideology. The camps were controlled by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt.

Protektorat  ↑ 

A government under a formal protector; The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was established in 1939 by Nazi Germany in the Czech Republic. Jewish emigration was banned in October 1941. Many of the Jews remaining after the emigration ban were deported to Theresienstadt and then on to Auschwitz.

Reactive orders  ↑ 

Information relating to previous requests filed at ITS, regarding which - thanks to recent additions to the documents - further information can be provided.

Reception Camp  ↑ 

In general, reception camps are intended to hold refugees seeking shelter. At the outbreak of the war, several countries started setting up reception camps for Jewish refugees mainly in regions bordering on the National Socialist German Reich. In the course of the latter's territorial expansion in the Second World War, some of these camps, e.g. the Dutch camp Westerbork, fell into the hands of the Nazis who converted and reused the camps.

Reference card  ↑ 

A reference card is produced for every name that appears in the documents kept at the International Tracing Service (ITS). It is filed in the Central Name Index where it serves as a finding aid.

Reichsführer SS  ↑ 

The commanding position and highest rank of the SS. Adolf Hitler appointed Heinrich Himmler as Reichsführer-SS in 1929, helping to make him one of the most powerful figures in Nazi Germany. Himmler expanded the SS into a powerful military unit and largely established and controlled the concentration and extermination camps.

Reichsgau / Administrative district of the Reich  ↑ 

As of 1938/39 the territories adjacent to the German Reich were annexed and incorporated as „Reichsgaue“ (Reich District) under the leadership of the Reich Governor into the territory of the German Reich. This was carried out in Austria, Poland (Danzig-West Prussia, Warta Country) and Czechoslovakia (Sudetenland).

Reichsicherheitshauptamt / Main Office for Reich Security  ↑ 
Abbreviation: RSHA

The Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), created on 27 September 1939, was an amalgamation of the security police (Gestapo and criminal investigations police) and the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) security service of the SS. With approximately 3,000 staff at its command, the RSHA constituted the central German police authority, playing a decisive part in the persecution, deportation and extermination of the European Jews.

Reichskommissariat / Administrative district headed by a Reich Commissar  ↑ 
Abbreviation: R.K.

The Nazis used the term Reichskommissariat to denote not only the territories they occupied in the East (R.K. Ostland and R.K. Ukraine), but also other territories administered by means of a Nazi-installed civilian occupation authority and headed by a Reichskommissar, as was the case with Norway and the Netherlands.

Reichsvereinigung der Juden / Reich Association of Jews  ↑ 

In June 1939 all Jewish organizations still extant were forcibly integrated within the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland (The Reich Association of Jews in Germany), created by means of the 10th order regarding the Reichsbürgergesetz (Reich Citizenship Law). The Reich Association was controlled by the Reich Ministry of the Interior or the Geheime Staatspolizei and the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and, as of September 1939, by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA). The Reich Association was mainly entrusted with social tasks, but also compelled by the Nazi authorities to engage in the organizational implementation of Anti-Jewish actions.

Repatriation  ↑ 

The return of Displaced Persons (DPs) to the country they originated in.

Reports on Changes in the Camp Strength  ↑ 

Veränderungsmeldungen are daily updated lists on the number of the inmates present in the concentration camps. They showed the figures of new-arriving prisoners, of inmates leaving for other concentration camps and of detainees who lost their lives.

Requests or inquries  ↑ 

Requests that the ITS receives either by regular or by electronic mail. Although it may relate to several persons or subjects, the single request is registered in the ITS statistics as one inquiry.

Resettlement Center  ↑ 

These centers housed the so-called DPs - displaced persons - when they had finished their stay in the DP camps. The staff there made out exit papers or visas on their behalf, entered the DPs in transport lists and filled in their travel tickets. They controlled, marked and checked their baggage. Before departing, the DPs had to undergo both a final interview and a medical examination.

Revierkarte / Camp infirmary or hospital card  ↑ 

A Revierkarte (camp infirmary card) was produced for concentration camp inmates admitted to the Krankenbau (camp infirmary or hospital). Apart from the personal details of the respective prisoner, it also included data relating to his or her treatment, such as particulars on vaccinations, anamnesis and examination dates.

Scholarly orders or requests  ↑ 

Requests sent to ITS with the intent of using its archives for scholarly projects.

Schreibstubenkarte / Camp Office card  ↑ 

The Schreibstubenkarte (camp office card) was produced for prisoners on their arrival at the concentration camps. It includes personal data plus arrival and transfer dates.

Schutzhaft / Protective Custody  ↑ 
Abbreviation: Sch.H.

On 4 February 1933, the so-called "Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the German People" was enacted, which allowed, in the interest of public security, that detention be imposed on persons for a maximum of three months. These regulations were tightened up by the Decree regarding Protective Custody of 25 January 1938, which enabled the state to apply Schutzhaft (protective custody) for an unlimited period, particularly to opponents of the regime and minorities. An official order on protective custody was issued that included the personal data of the prisoner, details on his or her residence and the reason for his or her protective custody.

Schutzstaffel  ↑ 
Abbreviation: SS

The Nazi unit charged with the care of intelligence, enforcement, central security, and the concentration and extermination of those considered to be inferior or undesirable. They were first selected by Hitler in 1925 to serve as a small group of bodyguards.

Service Watson  ↑ 

Service Watson was an international Red Cross organization established in 1939. Its task consisted of using the IBM/Hollerith punch card systems to compile lists of all prison or concentration camp inmates who had received aid shipments and care packages from the Red Cross. The Service was named after the IBM President Thomas J. Watson.

Sicherheitsdienst / Security Service  ↑ 
Abbreviation: SD

The Sicherheitsdienst (security service) was founded as the intelligence service of the SS on October 5th, 1931. Its initial task consisted in observing and spying on the opposing parties. Its later mandate included the persecution of the Jews.

Sicherheitspolizei / Security Police  ↑ 
Abbreviation: SiPo

Also known as main office of the Sicherheitspolizei (security police), the agency was an combination of the Gestapo and the criminal investigations police. The establishment of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) in 1939 resulted in the de facto merger of the SiPo and the SD, though the agencies' names continued to be used. The SiPo answered directly to the Reichsführer-SS.

Sicherheitsverwahrung / Preventive Detention  ↑ 

The Sicherheitsverwahrung (preventive detention) enabled the National Socialists - in accordance with „Gewohnheitsverbrechergesetz“ (the habitual offenders’ act) of 24 November 1933 - to keep a person in custody irrespective of the term of imprisonment imposed on him or her in the verdict. This means could be applied arbitrarily in order to subjugate opponents.

Special Civil Registry Office Arolsen  ↑ 

The death of forced laborers in concentration camps was partly recorded in death books and certified either by the former camp-owned or by the local civil registry offices. Whenever the ITS documentation shows clear clues pointing to a relative’s death, the Special Registry Office proceeds with a post-certification. At the suggestion of the International Tracing Service, the Special Registry Office was established on 1 September 1949 for the express purpose of such death certification. Pursuant to German legislation, the Federal State of Hesse is in administrative charge of the Special Registry Office.

Special SS Camp  ↑ 

The SS-Sonderlager (Special SS Camps) are considered precursors of the Nazi labor reform camps. By late 1939 all eight of these police prison camps had been established. While building the military defensive system of the Westwall (Siegfried Line), the Organisation Todt (OT) used these camps as instruments of repression to discipline the German laborers involved in constructing the Westwall.

Stammlager / Permanent Camp  ↑ 
Abbreviation: Stalag

Historical research counts at least 24 so-called "Stammlager" (permanent camps) among the Nazi camp system. They served as central administrative headquarters for the more than 1,000 subcamps. The "Inspektion der Konzentrationslager (IKL)" (Inspection of the Concentration Camps) took organizational charge of these permanent camps. The camp rules introduced by Commandant Theodor Eicke in Concentration Camp Dachau in October 1933 paved the way for a systematization and served as basis for the establishment of uniform and centralized concentration camp system with the Stammlager as its roots.

Subcamp, External Detachment  ↑ 

In addition to the main camps the National Socialist camp system knew a lot of subcamps. All main camps had subcamps or external detachments of different structure, size and duration. There were for instance mobile external detachments, guarded by SS teams, from which the prisoners, having finished their daily assignment, returned to the main camp, as well as subcamps, the structure of which hardly varied from the main camps. Officially they were under the administrative control and power of disposal of the main camp they were affiliated to.

Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force  ↑ 
Abbreviation: SHAEF

Highest allied military authorities after the liberation, who were replaced in July 1945 by the U.S. Forces European Theater (USFET).

T/D number  ↑ 
Abbreviation: T/D

Tracing/Documentation; inquiries from survivors and family members are registered at the ITS under this abbreviation, which dates back to the immediate post-war period.

Tracing/Documentation  ↑ 
Abbreviation: T/D

This term was introduced in 1948. The ITS archives include approximately three million T/D correspondence files. The abbreviation dates back to the immediate post-war era, with the T standing for Tracing and the D for Documentation.

Transit Camp  ↑ 

These camps served as in-between points on the route to the extermination camps.

Transports to the East  ↑ 

Collective transports mainly of Germany's and Austria's Jewish population that was deported to ghettos or concentration camps in Eastern Europe are occasionally called "Transports to the East". At the ITS a variety of documents and card files on these transports are kept, e.g. those departing from Berlin where deportation action was serially numbered in "waves".

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  ↑ 
Abbreviation: UNHCR

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is a successor organization of the IRO. Its mandate is laid down in the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention and its 1967 protocol. The UNHCR protects and supports refugees and expellees by, for instance, assisting them with their voluntary return, integration or resettlement.

United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration  ↑ 
Abbreviation: UNRRA

The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was an international relief organization established in Atlantic City (New Jersey, USA) as early as October 1943 to cope with the foreseeable problems arising from the migration movement caused by war and persecution. Officially confirmed by 44 nations in Washington, D.C. on 29 November 1943, the institution was taken over by the UNO in 1945. Its main mandate consisted of giving support to the military administration in registering, caring for and repatriating Displaced Persons (DPs). The UNRRA continued work up to 30 June 1947.

War Crimes Investigations  ↑ 

A US program relating to the criminal prosecution of the war crimes Germany committed during the Second World War. The program's main phase ran from May 1945 until June 1948; it was definitively completed by the release of the last war criminals in 1958. The program helped to create and define fundamental legal norms for holding trials on war criminals.

Wartime Documents  ↑ 

A term the ITS used up until 2007 to denote the collections of group two (see general inventory), which includes a variety of evidence on the whereabouts of mainly non-Germans between 1939 and approximately 1947. The term "Wartime Documents" was chosen because the collection mainly concerns forced laborers, who had to work in Germany during wartime.

Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt der SS / SS Main Office for Economy and Administration  ↑ 
Abbreviation: WVHA

The Nazis created the Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt (SS Main Office for Economy and Administration) in February 1942 by merging several SS economic units. Its tasks included the economic management and exploitation of the SS-owned production plants in the concentration camps. As of 1942/43 the concentration camp system as a whole came under the control of the SS-WVHA.

Zivilarbeiter / Civil Worker  ↑ 

The Polish residents used as forced laborers during World War II. They generally received lower wages and worse living and working conditions than German workers.

Zones of Occupation  ↑ 

After the war Germany was divided into four zones of occupation controlled by the Allied powers: France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the USA. While the establishment of the GDR in 1949 put a formal end to the occupation era in Eastern Germany, it was brought to a close in the Western zones by the conclusion of the Bonn Agreement in 1955.