WWII archive on displaced people now digitized

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BERLIN (AP) — Millions of documents that could help researchers learn more about people displaced by World War II have now been digitized at an archive in Germany.

The Bad Arolsen-based archive of the International Tracing Service said the year-and-a-half process digitized 350,000 “CM1” questionnaires issued by the Allies after the war, among many other items. The documents provide information on the fate of those rescued from concentration camps, forced labor camps and prisoner of war camps.

“People documented what they had gone through during the war, and specified reasons for their desire to emigrate,” Udo Jost, head of the archive decision, said Friday. “The documents can now also be searched for and viewed … This form of electronic access helps protect the original files while facilitating researchers’ access to information.”

He said this part of the ITS archives “offers excellent insights into life after survival, as well as the wave of migration that resulted from the war.”

For decades, access to the ITS archive was tightly restricted. It opened to historians and the public in 2007, shifting its focus from tracing people to serving as a research center.

The archive said it forwarded the 2.3 million new images this week to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the U.S. 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.

Since 1998, the archive has scanned some 84.5 million images and handed over roughly 6.5 terabytes of data to the different institutions. Materials include documents on concentration camps, ghettos and prisons, the ITS central name index, registration cards of displaced persons, documents concerning forced labor, and files from displaced persons camps and emigration after World War II.

The inventory of the children’s tracing service still needs to be transferred, as well as general documents and correspondence files.