A US genealogy company has digitised millions of records from an archive on victims of Nazi persecution and made them available online for the first time.
Ancestry, the genealogy company, used advanced technology to digitize millions of names and other information found in the archive and made the documents searchable at a website sponsored by Ancestry, the company said.
The records are contained in two unique Holocaust collections of documents belong to Arolsen Archives, an international centre on Nazi persecution with the world’s most comprehensive archive on victims of National Socialism.
Ancestry said it partnered with Arolsen Archives to gain unprecedented access to the archive, which is protected by UNESCO. Ancestry then digitized documents to make it easier for people to tap into the collections and learn more about their family history during and after the Holocaust.
Floriane Azoulay, director of Arolsen Archives, said the move breaks down some of the barriers for people seeking information about their families.
"With the number of Holocaust survivors dwindling every day, it is more important than ever to ensure these records live on," Azoulay said.
The Arolsen Archives annually answers inquiries about some 20,000 victims of Nazi persecution. Prior to making the data available online, access to the records required manual requests for copies of documents.
Ancestry said the publishing of the information is part of a philanthropic initiative to make culturally important records available to everyone. The records are permanently accessible at no cost, and membership in Ancestry is not required to access the documents, it said.
The Arolsen Archives, funded entirely by the German government, are maintained by the International Center on Nazi Persecution. There are more than 30 million documents in the archives on the incarceration, forced labour and post-war assistance provided by the alliance of countries that defeated Germany in World War Two.
People will be able to view the archives to identify immigrants who left Germany, including those who departed through non-German European ports, as well as people persecuted in occupied territories.
One of the collections of data includes Africa, Asia and Europe passenger lists of displaced persons leaving from 1946-71. This collection tracks people who journeyed out of Europe and Germany to rebuild their lives.
The majority of the immigrants listed in the collection are Holocaust survivors, former concentration camp inmates and forced labourers, as well as refugees from Central and Eastern European countries and certain non-European countries. It contains 1.7 million records and 300,000 images.
The other collection of data covers registration of foreigners and German individuals persecuted in the years 1939-47. It includes registrations of people living in Germany and German-occupied territories with non-German citizenship, stateless persons and also German Jews.
This collection is not restricted to people who were incarcerated and may also include information on those who died, including burial information. There are 9.9 million records and 900,000 images in the collection. – dpa
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