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“I found much more than I expected”

In order to trace the fates of former prisoners for an exhibition planned at the Brandenburg-Görden Prison Memorial, historian Uta Fröhlich researched names and life stories at the ITS.

Historian and exhibition curator Uta Fröhlich is very familiar with the archive of the International Tracing Service (ITS). “I’ve been to Arolsen often. I first carried out research here in 2009, when I looked at the Children Tracing Archive for the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.” In July and at the end of September 2016 she visited the ITS again to carry out research for the Brandenburg an der Havel Memorials. Her findings will be incorporated into a new permanent exhibition for the memorial at the former Brandenburg-Görden prison, where 2,031 people were executed by the Nazis.

Insights into individual fates

Uta Fröhlich is researching the fates of former prisoners for the exhibition, which is scheduled to open in 2017. “Various groups were imprisoned in Görden: political prisoners from all over Europe and people in preventive detention, but also forced laborers and POWs who had been caught in the gears of justice, as well as homosexuals and Jews. The people who weren’t executed often experienced incredible journeys through various penal institutions, and also through concentration camps and different satellite camps. I found much more than I expected. That’s why I’ve come back a second time. The documents reveal the full range of fates that befell persecutees.”

This historian is bringing a lot of material back to her colleagues for the exhibition – almost too much, as she knows from experience. “I’ll probably be able to give them some new insights into individual fates. It won’t be easy to analyze all of it.” She has found references to the Görden prisoners on transport lists, prisoner registration cards and lists of names from concentration camps, for example, but also in postwar documents from the Allies and aid organizations and in the correspondence files of the ITS that document the inquiries made by victims of the Nazis and their families.

Uta Fröhlich curated the exhibition “Batteries for the Wehrmacht – Forced Labor at Pertrix 1939-1945,“ which will be on display at the Nazi Forced Labor Documentation Center in Berlin until July 2017. “I couldn't come do the research myself at the time, but thanks to the ITS we were able to find 1,700 of the 2,000 forced laborers used by Pertrix, so we could create a database with their names and fates. Some of this was included in the exhibition.” The historian is pleased that so much has changed at the ITS since 2009. “It’s such a great archive and I really like coming here, because you can find an unbelievable amount of information about people. Topical research is somewhat more difficult, but it will get better and better with more finding aids and facilities.”