A question about tattoos and Auschwitz #general #holocaust

Simon Kreindler

An aunt and uncle briefly lived with us after World War II. Each had a number tattooed on their forearm. From what I have learned the only place that tattooed prisoners in World War II was Auschwitz but I have been unable to find either of their names in the Arolsen database.
Has anyone else encountered this?

Simon Kreindler

Bernard Flam

From Paris,
Hi Simon,
You could ask Auschwitz camp archives :
With this advice, available for Arolsen archives : these two institution display online only a part of their data.
As you are sure of internment of your aunt & uncle in camps, first Auschwitz, then probably one or more  Diplaced Person camp (DP's), you must fill an inquiry form online on each website to get all what they possibly detain. 
Bernard Flam
Archives & history of Medem Center - Arbeter Ring ( Bund / Workmen Circle) of France
Searching FLAM AGID around Lemberg


I am not an expert on this subject but I don't think Auschwitz was the only place that did this. I have heard the tattoos referred to as "Bergen-Belsen numbers" for instance.

Molly Staub

My brother-in-law was at Sachenhausen, later in D P camp Feldafing, and he had numbers on his arm.

Researching Arost/Harast, Berenson, Graffman, Shtofman, Mendelson

Molly Arost Staub

Dubin, David M. MD

My father in law was in an Auschwitz sub-camp (Gleiwice) and Sachsenhausen. I don’t know in which he was tattooed. I think the former. 

Miriam Bulwar David-Hay

Hello Simon,

Yes, Auschwitz was the only camp -- or to be more accurate, camp complex, because it was huge -- that tattooed prisoners with numbers. There was another, much smaller camp (Mielec) that tattooed prisoners with the letters KL, but that's clearly not what we're discussing here. Auschwitz prisoners were often sent on to other camps, where they would receive new numbers, in the form of patches on their uniforms, but obviously the tattooed Auschwitz number would still remain, and this may have led to confusion later about whether the number was from Auschwitz or another camp. But it was Auschwitz only.

There are several reasons why you may not have been able to find their names in the Arolsen database. Firstly, try some spelling variations on the surnames, first names only, place names only, etc., as the Arolsen system is not as good as some others in "sounds-like" searches. Secondly, know that not everything Arolsen has is online, so if you can't find what you want in the website, fill out their online inquiry form and see if they can find something in their offline records. Thirdly, know that the Germans destroyed a large portion of the Auschwitz documents when they evacuated the camp, so it is possible those records may not have survived. Fourthly, try searching the Auschwitz museum website as they have some prisoner records online, and, if you can't find anything, try writing to them too as they also have material that is not online: 
Finally, try searching both the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and Memorial websites, as each has extensive records online, some of which overlap, but some of which only one or the other has.

Best of luck,
Miriam Bulwar David-Hay,
Raanana, Israel.
Professional writer, editor, proofreader.
Professional translator (Hebrew & Yiddish to English).
Certified guide, Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and Memorial.
Long-time family history researcher.

Hank Lobbenberg

Some Auschwitz prisoners were transported to Bergen Belsen. The only camp that tattooed prisoners was Auschwitz.


A family friend was never in Auschwitz but he was tattooed, presumably when kept at a children's detention center before he escaped through the children's march to the United States. 
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC