a A

Digitisation of Post-War Era Documents Now Complete

The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen has now finished digitising its documents from the post-war era concerning displaced persons and emigration after the end of World War II. “This part of the ITS archives has hardly been explored so far,” said Udo Jost, Head of the Archive Division. “It offers excellent insights into life after survival, as well as the wave of migration which resulted from the war.” This week, ITS forwarded copies of the documents to its partner organisations in Israel, the US, Poland, Luxembourg and Belgium.

The documents provide information on the fate of those who were rescued from concentration camps, forced labour and, in some cases, war captivity. This inventory specifically comprises documents from German, Austrian, Italian and British camps for displaced persons, as well as emigration lists, files and dossiers from refugee organisations such as the UNHCR, and lists of Holocaust survivors compiled by Jewish organisations.

Among the documents mainly preserved from the DP camps are 350,000 “CM1” questionnaires issued by the Allies (care and maintenance) at the time. Jost explained that in these forms, “people documented what they had gone through during the war, and specified reasons for their desire to emigrate.” The digitisation of the entire inventory of post-war documents took a year and a half. “The documents can now also be searched for and viewed in the ITS database in Bad Arolsen,” said Jost. “This form of electronic access helps protect the original files while facilitating researchers’ access to information.”

This week, ITS forwarded copies of the documents from refugee organisations and Austrian, Italian and British DP Camps (about 2.3 million images) to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw, the Documentation and Research Centre on the Resistance in Luxembourg and the National Archives of Belgium in Brussels. Last year, ITS already handed over the first part of stock consisting of DP documents from Germany and lists of Holocaust survivors (ca. 2.2 million images). In accordance with a resolution by the International Commission which oversees the work of ITS, all eleven member states are entitled to digital copies of the documents archived in Bad Arolsen.

Up until now around 84.5 million images and roughly 6.5 terabytes of data have been handed over all together to the different institutions, including documents on concentration camps, ghettos and prisons (ca. 18 million images), the ITS central name index (ca. 42 million images), registration cards of displaced persons (ca. 7 million images), documents concerning forced labour (ca. 13 million images), and files from DP camps and emigration after World War II (ca. 4.5 million images). The inventory of the children’s tracing service still needs to be transferred, as well as the so-called general documents and the correspondence files.