Archive of 13m documents about 2.2m Nazi camp victims put online

Archive of 13m documents about 2.2m Nazi camp victims put online

Items including prisoner cards and death notices included in vast online library at the Arolsen Archives-International Center on Nazi Persecution

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

The International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany, has published online more than 13 million documents from Nazi concentration camps — with information on more than 2.2 million people.

The effort to put the archive online was undertaken in partnership with Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

The tracing service has also changed its name to the Arolsen Archives-International Centre on Nazi Persecution. For many years the documentation was only open to academic researchers, but a concerted effort was made to make the files accessible to the general public. Often people searching for details of family who perished in the death camps turn to Bad Arolsen. The service is complex, not least because of the vast number of different spellings of names of people and places, making digitisation much more difficult than normal archives.

The millions of documents, including prisoner cards and death notices, featuring information on Holocaust victims and others persecuted by the Nazi regime, are part of Unesco’s World Documentary Heritage and are a key focus of the collection of the Arolsen Archives. This database is the first of several large collections scheduled to go online in future.

“Our archive bears testimony to the atrocities perpetrated by the National Socialists,” Floriane Azoulay, director of the Arolsen Archives, said. “Soon there won’t be any survivors left to tell us about them. That is why it is so important that the original documents can speak to coming generations, in their place.”


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