Major German forced laborer database on Ostarbeiters goes online

One important online database has been missing for the WWII era until now. Finally, I can say a major database on the Ostarbeiters (forced laborers of Germany) is online.

Memorial, a Russian international historical and civil rights society, has posted information on more than 320,000 people taken from central and eastern Europe to become forced laborers for Germany. Many more people were Ostarbeiters but this database is the largest online.

Those who truly want to find information on their Ostarbeiter relatives and ancestors will need to make an extra effort to view this database. I will explain how to use this database without knowing Russian.

Memorial has posted a list of Ostarbeiters who were taken from or forced to work in these countries: Russia, current day Republic of Crimea, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Lithuania, France, Norway, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

The list of Ostarbeiters comes from State Archive of the Russian Federation: Fund-7021, “Extraordinary State Commission for the Establishment and Investigation of the Crimes of the Nazi Invaders”.

Important video on using this database

Memorial has created a video on using this database, with English subtitles here. I highly recommend viewing this video so this database is easier to use.

How to use this database

The easiest way to use this database without knowing Russian is to download the Google Translate app or another preferred language translator to your browser. Once that is downloaded, the database listings of countries, regions and towns/villages can be viewed in English.

Under the search area, the database is split up by country, regions of each country and towns/villages affected by the forced laborer movement of Germany. It will be helpful for users to know the region, district and town/village where their relatives and ancestors were taken from or had been forced to work. If this not known, I suggest looking at each possible area on the database.

Once a link is clicked for a village or town, a spreadsheet will be downloaded to your computer or device that gives the name and location of forced labor of the Ostarbeiters. If that does not happen, look for the green and white Excel spreadsheet icon and click on it.

Simply write relatives’ and ancestors’ names into Google Translate or this website and paste the last name into the find text box in the top right. Some spreadsheets could be short enough to scan for the names being researched.

Those who know how to read script Russian can search here for the towns where their relatives or ancestors were taken from or forced to work. Once that search is done, scans of documents related to that area will appear.

In addition to this database, Memorial created this database (click here for the English translated version) of documents (mainly in German) and personal photos provided by Ostarbeiters. This collection provides information on 170,000 people.

I know this seems like a lot of work for those accustomed to doing research in English. But 75 years have passed since WWII’s victory. These people in the database deserve to have their story discovered so this never happens again.

Remember to follow this blog with the top right button to learn about the latest news in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy. The news on databases has been amazing for 2020.

Posts on Memorial’s other important databases and projects:
Database of political terror victims in the USSR explodes past 3 million
Database reveals names of secret agents for the Soviet Great Terror
A shocking sign that some people in the former USSR aren’t scared anymore

5 thoughts on “Major German forced laborer database on Ostarbeiters goes online

  1. Pingback: Friday's Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

  2. Stephan Telka

    I was super excited to see you post this – thanks for sharing. However, I can’t seem to find anything on my grandparents, all four of which grew up in Galicia (who would have been classified by the Nazis mistakenly as Poles). It appears that the database of those sent to work as forced labourers focuses solely on Soviet citizens (i.e. those who were legally defined as Ostarbeiter in Nazi Germany). However, can you confirm my assumptions?

    I think this makes sense, as the archives are held in Russia, and Memorial is Russia based.


    1. Sorry for your lack of success. Forced laborers came from throughout eastern Europe. The Memorial database is focused on Russia because the organization requested records from Russian archives. I highly suggest searching for your grandparents here for free. The documents are posted online- Please also look through the databases on the Free Databases page. You may find luck on those databases, too. Good luck!


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