History of Ownership

As early as 1946, documents about death marches and their effects as well as grave sites of unknown dead came to the ITS or rather its predecessor organizations, the Central Tracing Bureau in Arolsen and the zonal search offices, which then pursued new or ongoing investigations. In the course of the centralization of all search activities at ITS in Arolsen, a program was initiated in April 1950 within the “Record Branch.” Titled “Attempted Identification of Unknown Dead,” it was designed to identify unknown dead and their grave sites. Most grave sites were connected directly to the death marches of the concentration camp inmates during the war’s final phase, so that their identification contributed to the reconstruction of the history of these so-called “evacuation marches.”

In the context of a renewed reorganization of the ITS, the leadership for which passed in 1951 from the IRO to the HICOG, the program was discontinued before its completion. The current document collection therefore reflects an ongoing work process. By 1969, the collection had been partially enlarged additional documents were incorporated not necessarily on the basis of their focus on death marches, but due to their bearing on the question of “unknown dead.”

Digital Copies

Digital copies of ITS fonds/ collections are available at: Archives de l'État en Belgique, Brussels, Belgium Archives Nationales, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, France Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel Centre de Documentation et de Recherche sur la Résistance, Luxembourg Instytut Pamięci Narodowej (IPN), Warsaw, Poland The Wiener Library, London, United Kingdom US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), Washington, D.C., USA