Hungary SIG #Hungary * Holocaust victims and survivors archive at Arolsen #hungary
Tom Venetianer <tom.vene@...>
As you know, immediately after the end of WW2 the Red Cross begin an effort to document the fate of Holocaust victims and survivors, Jews and non-Jews. That work resulted in a huge archive which is physically located at Arolsen, Germany.
Today they store over 20 million small index cards (yes, it's still in such format, nothing has been digitalized). Interested people can write Arolsen requesting information about their relatives but in practice this is almost useless - they have a huge backlog of requests and replies take several years. In my case 5 years have elapsed and no answer has yet been received.
In the 1960's Yad Vashem microfilmed part of Arolsen's archives. Consultation can be made in Jerusalem. It is a rather quick procedure, but, as mentioned, *not all cards* have been microfilmed.
A virtual friend of mine, Sherry Kikos, living in Israel and member of the BohMor-SIG, sent me some fresh information about the current status of the Arolsen records, which, with here permission, I'm here reproducing considering that it may be of interest to many H-SIG members.
Note: ITS is the shorthand for "International Tracing Service", the name by which the Arolsen archive is officially known.
I was only able to reach someone today at Yad Vashem regarding the Arolsen records. It seems that this an introduction somewhere and when she finds it, the librarian will photocopy it and send it to me.
The information I was given is very sketchy and has only raised more questions than it answered.
First of all, no private person is allowed to enter the archives at Arolsen. Only recently has a decision been made to let private people go into the archives. But, the decision has not yet been implemented.
Yad Vashem *does not have* all the records. They have about a third (but she was not sure). They have a very high percentage of Jewish records. The microfilms were done in the 60s, but she does not know what were the criteria for choosing which records and why.
The original records are on index cards - to me they looked like what we used to call in the USA, 3x5 (3 inches by 5 inches - an inch is about 2.54 cm). But, the librarian seemed to think that they may have been 4x6.
The ITS at Arolsen, Germany, is NOT the same as the International Red Cross. The International Red Cross had a hand in the founding of the ITS as did the Allies. There was a body formed and they are the ones who ran it then and run it today.
Records came >from all over >from displaced persons camps, >from the Nazi files, all over. Individuals looking for people would send in requests through the people in charge of the DP camps and these requests would be forwarded to the ITS.
They do have a website <http://english.its-arolsen.org> and the librarian mentioned that one can read about the ITS on the web. I only found myself being more confused by the website.
And according to [name omitted] at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, contacting the ITS is useless (I believe that those were the exact words he used in an e-mail to me when I asked him about it.)
Lastly, I mentioned to the librarian that there was quite a bit of "confusion" regarding what the Arolsen records were all about on JewishGen and it was suggested that maybe Yad Vashem write up something for JewishGen regarding the records. I think that was food for thought for her.
Tom Venetianer <mailto:tom.vene@...>
Sao Paulo - Brazil
Moderator: We are approving this message because it has info of interest to H-SIG subscribers although not specifically related to the topics covered by this list. Please direct questions and comments directly to Tom unless they deal with records regarding Hungarian families.