Effects are personal possessions that were taken away from prisoners when they arrived at a concentration camp as, for example, wallets, identification papers, photos or letters. Money and valuable objects had been confiscated by the National Socialists at that time. For this reason, the effects are not of any material value in most cases, but of an enormous sentimental value for the family members.
Predominantly, the former owners of the effects preserved at the ITS were political prisoners. They probably include members of all the nations whose countries were occupied by the National Socialists. The majority of them are Eastern Europeans. Jewish prisoners as well as Romany people, however, are only to be found in exceptional cases.
Approximately 3,300 effects are still preserved in the archives. In about 2,800 of these cases, the names of the former owners are known. The personal possessions chiefly come from the concentration camps Neuengamme (2,400) and Dachau (330). Moreover, effects from a few prisoners of the Gestapo Hamburg, from the concentration camps Natzweiler and Bergen-Belsen as well as from the transit camps Amersfoort and Compiègne are to be found. The prisoners from Amersfoort and Compiègne had been further deported to Neuengamme in most cases.
History of Ownership
The ITS collection of personal effects is an atypical archival holding in two respects: First, it includes objects in the form of emotionally powerful possessions of former concentration camp inmates. Second, parts of this collection can and even should be returned to the owners or their family members. You may find a list of the former owners of personal effects for which the ITS has the owners’ names as well as information about the process of having objects returned on our web site (List of effects and Procedure for returning effects). This site shows just the personal effects still housed at ITS, not those that have already been returned to their owners or their family members. The possessions in this collection were taken from inmates upon their arrival at concentration camps. Among other things, the objects include wallets, identity papers, pictures and letters as well as pocket watches, writing utensils and other small belongings that the inmates carried with them. At that time, the National Socialists confiscated money and possessions of greater value. That is why the personal effects are seldom of material value, but remain of significant sentimental value for the family members of former owners. The personal effects belonged overwhelmingly to political prisoners from Germany and the occupied areas as well as to forced laborers, who were transported to concentration camps. There are very few personal effects in this collection from Jewish inmates or Sinti and Roma. Altogether, some 3300 personal effects are being preserved in the ITS archive, for approximately 2800 of which the former owner’s name is known. The vast majority are possessions from inmates of the concentration camps Dachau and Neuengamme. A smaller portion comes from the Gestapo prison in Hamburg or was taken from inmates at other concentration camps before they were transported to the Neuengamme concentration camp.
Other Finding Aid
Further information on the history of the collection may be gathered from finding aid B 1 - "Verwaltungsamt für Innere Restitution".
The goal of the ITS is to return the effects to former prisoners and family members. Please find
further relevant information on the ITS website. Only in exceptional cases, objects are loaned to
museums or similar institutions.