Records from the Holocaust and Nazi persecution have become more accessible, thanks to newly digitised archives. A joint initiative between Ancestry and the Arolsen Archives — an international centre on Nazi persecution — has resulted in the digitisation of millions of records from the era. And unlike many of the other features of the genealogy research site, this archive will be available to everyone for free, with or without a subscription.
According to a post on Ancestry’s blog, the collection contains millions of names and other pieces of information about some of the people affected by the Holocaust and Nazi persecution. Though these records were available previously, they were much more difficult to access, requiring manual requests for copies of documents. Now they are all searchable online.
How to search the records
If you’ve previously had difficulty finding information on relatives or others who were displaced during World War II, these records may help identify people leaving Germany and other European ports, in addition to those considered “non-citizens” persecuted in occupied territories.
If you don’t understand German, you may need assistance from a translator, or you can use any number of translation sites and apps to at least get the general gist of what it’s saying. But you also may get lucky, because some of the records are also available in English (just don’t count on that being the case).
There are two separate databases available in this archive: Africa, Asia & Europe passenger lists of displaced persons (1946-1971) and Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German individuals persecuted (1939-1947). The people in these archives include Holocaust survivors, former concentration camp inmates and forced laborers, as well as refugees from Central and Eastern European countries and certain non-European countries.
You don’t need to know which database might be most useful for your purposes: you can access all the records with a single search. But you also have the option of searching each database individually to narrow it down a bit. There are options to search by name, birthdate and place, destination, or to browse records by resettlement region. Between the two databases, there are more than 11 million records and 1.2 million images.