Arolsen Archives quietly adds 13 million more WWII records…

It was only last summer when Arolsen Archives- International Center on Nazi Persecution expanded its database to 13 million records on displaced persons and Nazi persecution victims.

Now, the database has doubled in size with records on forced laborers and deportations to concentration camps. It is quite the gift to have these documents online at this time.

This free database is well-worth searching if you had relatives or ancestors who were displaced or persecuted during WWII. The records are available for downloading without requiring registration.

The English database only can be searched by names or topics. I recommend searching by names. The results can be filtered by religion, nationality and family status.

With the database being so large, it naturally will have some errors. My grandfather’s name is spelled as Sergej and Serzej and his birth date is listed as March 21 and April 21 on the database.

Here are some tips to take full advantage of this wonderful database:

  • Remember that people during WWII lied on records to survive so be open-minded when viewing records. My grandfather lied that he was born in Bialystok, Poland, instead of Kyiv, Ukraine.
  • Use a text document to keep track of which relatives and ancestors you have searched.
  • Consider every possible relative and ancestor who was affected by WWII. A document on a distant cousin could have information that can breakdown a brickwall.
  • Don’t ignore matches that seem off by a month, day or year for birth dates. The dates may have been mistyped for the database.
  • Another date issue is the switching of Julian calendar dates to the current Gregorian calendar. It can affect dates involving immigrants from the former USSR. Check out this page for more information.
  • Use every known spelling of your relatives or ancestors before giving up searches on them.
  • Remember village, town and city names can change over time. Before eliminating matches by location, research the locations for name changes.
  • Germans switch y’s to j’s and v’s to w’s. Also vowels may be switched, too.
  • Make sure to view all the results for your searches, even matches with limited information. Check out the records for each match to confirm whether they are connected to your family.
  • Remember to download records, even those that are not definite matches.
  • When you find different spellings for your relatives and ancestors, consider using those spellings when searching for them in other databases.

If searches come up empty, requests to Arolsen Archives can be made here. It could take up to 2 years to receive a response by e-mail.

Arolsen Archives still has about 4 million records to post online. Follow this blog with the top right button to learn about the next update to this database.

Related posts:

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Database of political terror victims in the USSR explodes past 3 million

Major update to WWII database honors 75th victory anniversary

New WWII Soviet Army database gives faces to veterans

Major update to WWII database honors 75th victory anniversary

This is a major year to remember the victorious end of World War II. Russian military archives are not forgetting the importance of this year.

The amount of information Russian military archives have added to their database, Memory of the People: 1941-1945, is worth celebrating. Here is more information on the project in English on the millions of records scanned and uploaded to this database to document the soldiers of WWII from the former USSR.

About 25 million more records have been added to the database. The newest update covers:

  • 8 million records from military personnel listings,
  • 6.9 million records on war veterans from the officer’s record-keeping file,
  • 1.7 million records from navy files,
  • 5 million records of conscription and demobilization from military registration and enlistment office documents,
  • 1.39 million entries from burial records and documents of losses and prisoners of war and
  • 2 million records of the passage of military personnel through reserve regiments.

The search page for this database can be seen in English but Google Translate is needed for copying and pasting the keywords in Russian. Not one English-language website has this information so it is well worth the effort for anyone who had relatives or ancestors in the USSR’s military.

The type of information that can be found on soldiers includes full name, date of birth, place of birth, location for call of duty, map of the individual’s battle route and awards received, with photos of awards and scans of original documents. The website allows documents to be saved by clicking on the disk button on the bottom right.

Check out the search page in English.

Here’s how to take advantage of this database.

  • Have Google Translate in the next window for translating names and places. The results can be copied and pasted for translation. Downloading Google Translate for your device is highly recommended.
  • If Google Translate doesn’t work for certain names, try Transliterating English to Russian in One Step.
  • Start the search with as much information as possible. If results don’t appear, take away one search keyword at a time.
  • Remember that towns and villages can be spelled different than personally known. The birthplace of my great-grandfather is listed in two different neighborhoods and spelled randomly with an o and a on the end in results.
  • Open a Microsoft Word or text document for copying and pasting results. It is best to save the results somewhere so the search doesn’t have to be redone. Also, keep a list of people, surnames and villages/towns searched in a document.
  • If results can’t be found on direct relatives, try searching for cousins, no matter how distant. It sometimes takes a random cousin to open up research doors.
  • Remember the importance of patronymic names (Slavic middle names in honor of the father). If particular people can’t be found, look for people with the same surnames and patronymic names from the same village and town. Those people could be unknown siblings of relatives or close cousins.
  • Keep a close eye on the results because names of places duplicate throughout the former USSR. You’ll need to know the neighborhood (rayon) and region (oblast) where your relatives lived.
  • In case typos have occurred, it is recommended to search solely by village or town. Copy and paste the village or town name translated in Russian into the place of birth search box to view everyone who is included in the database from that place.
  • Make screen shots of positive and potential results.

No matter the results you found or didn’t, it is worth trying. Getting used to searching Russian websites is an important skill for anyone researching in the former USSR.

It took me several years to gain the skills to search these sites and understand Russian and Ukrainian websites. All that effort has returned into the gift of many success stories I never imagined could ever happen in my journey.

Russian military archives have been updating their WWII databases for several years now. Remember to click on follow this blog on the top right to learn about the latest database updates and new guides on improving success in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy.

Related posts:
New WWII Soviet Army database gives faces to veterans
Free database on WWII soldiers grows by more than 5 million records
Ancestry.com quietly adds incredible WWII database
Ancestry releases important database on WWII displaced persons