Historical Social Research

Henning Borggräfe: Exploring Pathways of (Forced) Migration, Resettlement Structures, and Displaced Persons’ Agency: Document Holdings and Research Potentials of the Arolsen Archives. [Abstract]

As a consequence of Nazi persecution, millions of liberated forced laborers, camp prisoners, and others found themselves outside their countries of origin in May 1945. Dealing with these displaced persons (DPs) constituted one of the largest challenges the Allies faced after World War II. Allied aid organizations not only provided care for the DPs while preparing their repatriation or resettlement but also had to search for, and clarify the fate of, those missing. To achieve this goal, the International Tracing Service (ITS) was set up in Arolsen, Germany. This institution, which has recently been renamed the Arolsen Archives, developed into the world’s largest repository of documents on Nazi persecution as well as on Allied efforts to manage the DP problem. Most of the holdings have already been digitized. Starting with a description of Allied registration procedures, this paper outlines the development and scope of DP collections held at Arolsen. Special focus is given to casefiles of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) regarding the care and maintenance of DPs living in occupied Germany. The paper discusses how the records can be used to explore pathways of (forced) migration, to research resettlement structures, and to address the issue of DPs’ agency.

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