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.