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 as most of the persecuted from these groups where killed immediately upon arrival, while their belongings were confiscated and distributed.
The personal belongings contained in this collection were confiscated by camp and prison authorities – mainly at concentration camps Neuengamme and Dachau - as part of the incarceration process. The belongings were stored at so called “Effektenkammer” (personal belongings depot). Often, more valuable belongings were confiscated by the S.S, leaving behind personal documentation. After Liberation, the allied forces were able to secure some depots of personal belongings in several camps and other locations. These were handed to various organizations such as Tracing Bureaus and Restitution Offices in Germany, charged with locating the owners of the belongings. Two of these institutions – The “Verwaltungsamt für Innere Restitution in Stadthagen” (The office for internal restitution in Stadthagen) and the “Bayrisches Landesentschädigungsamt” (the Baverian restitution office) handed their collections of personal belongings to the ITS in 1963. The ITS sees itself as the custodian the personal belongings held the archives, charged with returning the belongings to the owners or their heirs.
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 should be returned to the owners or their family members. A list of the former owners of personal effects for which the ITS has the owners’ names as well as information concerning the process of having objects returned to their owners can be found our web site (https://www.its-arolsen.org/de/das-archiv/effekten/liste-der-effekten/index.html#c4892, https://www.its-arolsen .org/fileadmin/user_upload/Dateien/effekten/Text_UEbergabe_Effekten.pdf). This site shows just the personal effects still housed at ITS, excluding effects returned to their owners or their family members. The collection of personal belongings held by the ITS is comprised of three distinct groups, each of which has a unique archival History. • Personal belongings received from the Central Office for Restitution in Stadthagen (mostly wallllets) • Personal belongings received from the Bavarian State Compensation Authority (mostly personal effects) • Personal belongings of unknown origin held by the ITS. The largest collection of personal belongings held by the ITS is that received from the Central Office for Restitution in Stadthagen in 1963. The collection was originally comprised of some 4,300 personal belongings from KL Neuengamme, but also 93 personal effects from the Gestapo Hamburg, 14 from The Central Bank of Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, belonging mostly to prisoners of the Neumünster Prison, as well as personal belongings from Dachau and other unknown sources. In addition, the ITS received 6 crates of personal belongings of post-war detainees, these however were given to the „Deutsche Dienststelle” (WASt) by the ITS in 1973 as they fall outside the ITS´s mandate. The personal belongings received from the Central Office for Restitution in Stadthagen are dispersed among collections 184.108.40.206, 1.2..9.3, 220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124. In 1963, the ITS received 339 envelopes containing personal documentation of Dachau Prisoners from the Bavarian State Compensation Authority, which in turn received these from its predecessor, the Bavarian State Commissariat for Political, Racial and Religious Persecutees. 170 of these envelopes were returned to their rightful owners in the same year. The personal belongings received from Bavarian State Compensation Authority constitute collection 126.96.36.199. The third and smallest group of effects held by the ITS is of unknown origin. 222 personal belongings belonging mainly to Dutch prisoners of KL Neuengamme were found in 1974 in one of the ITS buildings. These items, following the principle of alphabetical filing by surnames, were dispersed among collections 188.8.131.52, 1.2..9.3, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168. Since receiving the personal belongings, the ITS has made continuous attempts to return these to their rightful owners. Over the years, 1,048 personal belongings were handed to various Red Cross societies of several States. More than 800 further personal belongings were returned by the ITS directly to the owners or their heirs.
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 personal effects of former victims of Nazi persecution to the victims themselves or their family members. Additional information can be found on the ITS website. Loans of such effects to memorial institutions occur only under special circumstances. Following a successful return of the effects, the original owners or heirs decide if the the effects will be displayed on the "Digital Collection Online".The nationality of the original owners was determined based on extensive research of the ITS holdings.