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Researching names for the National Socialism Documentation Center in Cologne

Nina Matuszewski and Thomas Roth of the National Socialism Documentation Center in Cologne spent a week in early February checking names for their current project on the fate of Cologne natives deported to the Lodz Ghetto (Litzmannstadt).  “We were able to determine the fates of one-tenth of the names using documents at the ITS,” reported Matuszewski.  “Most of the time we found a notice of death and almost no indication of liberation.” 

The National Socialism Documentation Center was established by the City of Cologne in 1988 in the EL-DE House at Appellhofplatz, which served as Gestapo (Secret Police) headquarters from 1935-1945.  The prison in the cellar has been preserved and is today a memorial. The museum´s goal is to foster awareness of human rights, democracy, cultural diversity and non-violence, and oppose right-wing extremist thinking and activity.  

Matuszewski and Roth´s current project describes fates of people who were deported from Cologne to Lodz (Litzmannstadt).  The two researchers want to check nearly 350 names at the ITS. “We already have some first and last names as well as dates of birth from tha archives in Lodz, the Jewish Community records of Cologne and the regional finance office,” said Matuszewski. “We would like to find additional information using the ITS´s extensive documentation and correspondence files.”    

Sifting through the ITS´s correspondence files (so-called T/D cases, or tracing documents) is especially interesting work, explains Roth.  “It makes you curious. This is where family relationships and migration movements are revealed, and it is much nicer to see that a few of them survived.”  The colleagues from Cologne want to return to the ITS for this and other projects.  Matuszewski and Roth both agreed: “We´re happy about the information we have been able to find here and appreciate the openness of the staff.”

The Documentation Center in Cologne publicizes new research findings in exhibitions, publications or interactive databases, of which the transports to the Lodz Ghetto (Litzmannstadt) will also be a part of.  Thematically oriented tours of the cell block are offered, as well as permanent and special exhibitions. The permanent exhibition presents the history of Cologne during National Socialism.