Rising numbers of inquiries about the victims of Nazi persecution

Rising numbers of inquiries about the victims of Nazi persecution
  • The number of inquiries submitted to the Arolsen Archives rose by 10 percent last year.
  • Around 350,000 people from all over the world have used the online archive of the Arolsen Archives since it was launched in May 2019.
  • Documents on 1.7 million people will be added to the online archive on 27 January.

Large numbers of people are still searching for information about relatives who were murdered, persecuted, or deported by the Nazi regime. The number of inquiries submitted to the world’s most comprehensive archive on the victims of Nazi persecution has risen again. Last year saw an increase of ten percent. The Arolsen Archives received inquiries concerning about 24,000 individuals – almost three quarters of these inquiries came from family members, while only 2 percent came from survivors themselves. People from around 70 different countries consulted the Arolsen Archives; Germany, Poland, and the USA were particularly well represented.

A valuable source of information for 350,000 users

The online archive of the Arolsen Archives was made available to the public in May 2019. By December, 14 million documents were already online. Three hundred and fifty thousand users from all over the world conducted research in the part of the collection that is accessible to the public. Recognized by UNESCO as part of the world’s documentary heritage, the full collection comprises 30 million documents and is an important source of information on concentration camp prisoners, forced laborers under the Nazi regime, and the survivors of persecution.

“Last year’s figures reflect the high level of interest in original documentation on the victims of National Socialism,” emphasizes Floriane Azoulay, the Director of the Arolsen Archives. “Soon there won’t be any survivors or witnesses left, so the documents will have to speak to younger generations in their stead as far as this is possible.”

Documents from the Arolsen Archives: individual documents of a concentration camp inmate.

Now online: documents on 1.7 million individuals dating from the period after liberation

On 27 January, International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Arolsen Archives are putting another important collection of documents online containing registration cards for 1.7 million people. Created by the Allies, these cards contain a wealth of information about these people’s backgrounds and paths of persecution as well as about their situation after 1945: Where did these people want to emigrate to? Where were their temporary places of stay in the meantime?

“We aim to publish all our documents and the names of all the victims documented in our archive by 2025,” explains Floriane Azoulay. “By doing so, we can play an important role in helping to reconstruct the life stories of people who suffered persecution at the hands of the National Socialists. It is essential that the memory of the holocaust, of the genocide of the Sinti and the Roma, and of the crimes committed against all the other victim groups be kept alive in order to make sure that this kind of terror can never return again in any form.”