Finding Your Father's War: A Practical Guide to Researching Service in the WWII U.S. Army
If you're planning on researching your WWII-era ancestry in the United States the following book is strongly recommended. "Finding Your Father's War: A Practical Guide to Researching and Understanding Service in the World War II U.S. Army."
Historian Felix Römer talks about the archive of interviews and recordings of Wehrmacht soldiers talking about the extermination
Historian Felix Römer: There is a large tranche of files, which we knew nothing about until now, from a listening station close to Washington called Fort Hunt. The US military intelligence service interned 3,000 Wehrmacht soldiers there 1942-1945, kept them under observation, and secretly recorded them using hidden microphones. A vast swath of files containing over 102,000 pages of transcripts and examination reports was produced. It is a massive boost for research into the mentality of the Wehrmacht, since here you can hear Wehrmacht soldiers speak in their original tone.
Germany still locates 40,000 war casualties a year - Database of fallen soldiers
3 million German soldiers died in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in World War II, and the fate of hundreds of thousands of them remains unknown to their descendants. On the 67th anniversary of Nazi Germany's capitulation, the German War Graves Commission launched a campaign inviting people to consult its online database, which contains information on 4.6 million soldiers killed or missing in action. Some 40,000 are located and reburied each year across Eastern Europe and Russia -- where its teams still encounter hostility from locals who remember the murderous occupation.
Ancestry.com to publish the 1940 U.S. Census data - Free to access through the end of 2013
When Ancestry.com picks up the 1940 Census from the National Archives in Washington, D.C., it will immediately began processing the documents. Due to the overwhelming interest in the 1940 Census release, Ancestry.com is working to get all 3.8 million images online as quickly as possible and a fully indexed 1940 Census will be available before the end of the year. The entire 1940 Census record collection will be free to access through the end of 2013.
Researchers urge UN to open their locked archive which contains 10,000 cases against WWII criminals
Locked inside UN headquarters is a huge archive documenting 10,000 cases against WW2 criminals. Leading historians are campaigning to make the files - hundreds of thousands of pages in 400 boxes - public. The archive belonged to the United Nations War Crimes Commission, a body set up in October 1943 by 17 allied nations to issue lists of alleged war criminals - involving 37,000 individuals - examine the charges against them and try to assure their arrest and trial. The war crimes commission was shut down in 1948, and the following year, the UN Secretariat drew up rules making the files available only to governments on a confidential basis.
New archive of Nazi exhibitions complicates our understanding of Hitler's art history
Richard Wagner was his favorite composer and Arno Breker his official house sculptor - but Adolf Hitler`s taste in art was surprisingly broad - judging by a vast archive of some 11,000 Nazi-era exhibition installation photos now published online. The "Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung 1937-1944" database lists the Führer as the buyer of some 1313 artworks from the eight grandiose exhibitions put on by the Nazi party before and during the WWII at Munich's Haus der Kunst. Among the works on which Hitler spent 7 million Reichmarks were a bust of Mussolini's head, paintings of playful leopards, and Anna Elisabeth Rühl's sculpture of a donkey.
FBI release hundreds of pages of files devoted to speculation that Hitler escaped Germany
The FBI has declassified their Adolf Hitler files, which toy with the idea that Führer survived WWII and went into hiding. The FBI investigated claims that the Nazi leader had faked his own death, and the files show lab reports on Hitler's marriage certificate, will, as well as other political documents. The bureau has released 867 pages of files and documents, hundreds of which are devoted to the theory that Hitler escaped the Third Reich and lived safely in Argentina with other Nazi leaders, body doubles, and possibly even Eva Braun after the war.
MI5 list reveals 4,000 Britons who joined the fight against fascism in Spanish Civil War, double the previous estimates
Hundreds more Britons set out to join the fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War than was previously thought, reveal MI5 files which were published online by The British National Archives. Intelligence officials recorded the names of 4,000 people from Britain and Ireland suspected of travelling to Spain in the 1930s to join the International Brigades battling against General Francisco Franco's forces. This is significantly more than the figure of 2,500 British volunteers cited by historians, although it may include some who did not arrive.
Records about Nazi looted art available through a single web portal
The Nazis were among the most ruthless art collectors ever to cast a greedy eye on other people's property. That appetite saw thousands of pieces stolen from their owners 1933-1945 and entire collections raided, scattered and lost. The quest to recover and return them to their rightful owners has been under way for seven decades. Now, thanks to a deal between some of the world's leading archives and museums, an online catalogue of documents has been created to help families, historians and researchers track down the artworks. Under an agreement signed by organisations like Britain's National Archives, the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, the US National Archives and Records Administration (Nara) and Germany's Bundesarchiv, the records will be available through a single web portal (link).
Publications catalog of the U.S. Army center of military history
The U.S. Army center of military history stores countless WWII related documents - like "Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare", "Global Logistics and Strategy", and "Sicily and the Surrender of Italy" - which can be downloaded for free (PDF) or viewed online (HTML).
Ukraine publishes 140,000 pages of documents from the Kyiv headquarters of Alfred Rosenberg (Article no longer available from the original source)
Ukraine have placed online records covering Nazi looting from Holocaust victims across Europe - a move that could help track down stolen works of art to their rightful owners. Ukraine's State Archives posted 140,000 pages of documents from the Kyiv headquarters of Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi minister in charge of occupied Soviet territories. The records - at this time available only through a Russian-language search engine - cover Nazi looting 1940-1944 in Belgium, northern France, the Netherlands, Italy, Yugoslavia, and the occupied Soviet territories. [tsdavo.org.ua]
St. Marys Submarine Museum preserves and digitizes one of the nation's largest collections of submarine reports
John Crouse is preserving what may be the most important items at the St. Marys Submarine Museum. The ink is fading on one of the nation's biggest collections of submarine reports. The files are sailors' firsthand descriptions of battles, secret missions and near misses from attack. The library's air is monitored to preserve documents, but many of the reports were donated by sailors who had not kept them in ideal conditions. Crouse is entering the reports, some over 100 pages long, on a computer. Once all 1,800 reports are in digital format, the collection will be copied on CDs and sold at the museum.
Einsatzgruppen Operational Situation Reports
Einsatzgruppen Operational Situation Reports ( June 23, 1941 - April 24, 1943).
Bletchley Park World War II archive to go online after HP donated scanners
Millions of documents stored at the World War II code-breaking centre, Bletchley Park, are set to be digitised and published online. Hewlett-Packard has donated a number of scanners to the historic centre in Milton Keynes so volunteers can begin the huge task. Many of the records have laid forgotten for years, and the centre hopes that untold stories about the role Bletchley Park played in the war will be unearthed. The information will include communication transcripts, communiques, memoranda, photographs, maps and other material relating to key World War II events and secrets.
Degenerate Art database shows 21,000 artworks seized by Nazis
Berlin's Free University opened up an Internet database documenting the fate of over 21,000 artworks condemned as "degenerate" by the Nazis and seized from German museums in 1937. The site - geschkult.fu-berlin.de/e/db_entart_kunst/ - is the result of 8 years of research by art historians. It gives details of the museums they were seized from and their current location (if known). In 1937, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels staged the exhibition "Degenerate Art" - which first opened in Munich, pulling in 2 million people before moving on to other cities.
Archive of secret World war II aerial photos goes online
Craters surround a Nazi doodlebug (V1) factory in an image showing the devastation wreaked by an Allied bombing raid. The date is Sept 2, 1944 and the place Peenemunde, where the Nazi wonder weapons Adolf Hitler hoped would win the war were designed. The image comes from an archive of aerial photographs snapped by daring pilots (flying as low as 50ft) during secret recon missions. Other pics reveal the human suffering, including rare shots of a Nazi slave labour camp and of the Colditz POW camp. Until now the Aerial Reconnaissance Archives (TARA) have been kept behind closed doors. Visit online archive: aerial.rcahms.gov.uk.
Germany puts names of 700,000 captured Soviet POWs online
German authorities put online the names of 700,000 captured Soviet soldiers, most of whom perished in Nazi POW camps. The lists had previously been kept by German authorities who help people in former Soviet nations to discover how their ancestors died. "Now people will be able to do the research all by themselves," said Klaus-Dieter Mueller, of the State of Saxony Memorials Foundation in Dresden, which manages several state-run concentration-camp memorials that document Nazi crimes. The twin websites, dokst.de and dokst.ru, contain the list of men in German and in Russian.
Finding your War War II roots - How to research family history
With a generation now growing up whose grandparents do not even remember the Second World War, there are other sources where you can learn about your ancestors' wartime roles. The best place to start is the family photo album where you may see someone in a military uniform. There may be details on the back. If not, look at the uniform for clues. Regimental badges/uniforms are easily id'ed if you can see the detail in them. Armed with a name and a regiment you can then start locating a service record. If your ancestor saw active service then the regimental war diary is worth consulting. Other good sources include local newspapers and national archives.
Mysteries of Colditz Castle revealed as archives of Allied POWs go online
Willing to fight for their country, they instead spent much of WWII behind barbed wire. But the 100,000 British POWs in Nazi Germany still kept huge numbers of enemy troops occupied with their escape attempts. Now the German records of all the captured Britons are available online for those researching their ancestors. The most infamous of the Nazi PoW camps was Colditz Castle (Oflag IV-C), used to house Allied soldiers who had already escaped from other camps. Almost professional escapers, many of these men dedicated all their time to finding ways to outsmart the Nazi guards. Schemes included making German uniforms or gliders.
Czech historians publishing World War II, Gestapo, Waffen SS files (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR) and the Archives of Security Forces are publishing some new information on the war-time occupation by Third Reich and subsequent events. The files document the actions of the Nazi security bodies on Czech soil during World War II. The files were published on the eve of the 64th anniversary of Prague Uprising against Nazi occupation. The USTR webpage includes the structure of the Gestapo and data on its work. The published list of Gestapo members includes 5861 names. There is also the structure of the Waffen-SS to which the Gestapo was subordinate during the war.
Pittsburg State University puts World War Two collection online
A collection of historic photographs, scrapbooks and other materials, donated by Arnold Clayton Watkins to Leonard H. Axe Library, Pittsburg State University, is now online. It includes many images of Army Air Force personnel and Army Air Force planes carrying out bombing missions, and of Dresden, Cologne and Hamburg after being bombed a few months before the end of WWII. Of special interest are pics of Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering, possibly taken in 1935, talking with other Nazi leaders and visiting Wehrmacht troops. One baffling photo shows a group of Nazi officers standing around a civilian man with an American Indian headdress and a miniature tomahawk.
Poland launches Second World War victims database
70 years after the start of the Second World War, Poland will set up a database of 2 million victims of the fighting. The database will be available soon on straty.pl, and will include the location and circumstances of the victims' death. Families will have the possibility to add to the list of victims. Officials hope that the database will expand to 4 million names within a year or two.
Bulgaria seeks return of WWII archives seized by the Red Army (Article no longer available from the original source)
Bulgaria is demanding that Russia return Second World War documents taken in 1944 as the Soviet army swept through eastern Europe. The archive is over 30,000 pages of documents, including details of Bulgaria's preparations to side with Third Reich in the war. The Soviet army said it seized the documents to use as evidence at Nuremberg trials. Bulgaria says its request complies with a 1995 Russian federal law on cultural valuables that were moved to the Soviet Union after WWII.
Footnote places massive World War II collection online
A huge collection of WWII documents was recently placed online by "Footnote.com", which set up the collection with the National Archives and Records Administration. The collection starts with 9 million "hero pages" profiling American WWII veterans with Army enlistment records data. Veterans and their families and friends can add extra information and photographs. Other highlights include the personnel rolls of Pearl Harbor, reports of missing air crews, submarine patrol reports, naval press clippings and comprehensive analyses of the Allied bombing strategy against Japan.
World War II documents from Avalon project
Dozens of World War II documents and document collections are available online at the Avalon Project, including: The British War Bluebook; Casablanca Conference; France's Response to Germany's Invasion of Poland; German Declaration of War with the United States : December 11, 1941; German Surrender Documents; Japanese Surrender Documents; Master Lend-Lease Agreement; Nazi-Soviet Relations 1939 - 1941; Pearl Harbor - Documents; Potsdam Conference, July 17-August 2, 1945...
Russia declassifies papers of the 1938 Munich Agreement
The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) has declassified archive files about the 1938 Munich Agreement. "The declassified intelligence documents reflect the political processes which took place before and after the Munich Agreement of Sept. 30, 1938, which is also called the 'Munich conspiracy.'" - explained Sergei Ivanov, head of the SVR press office. Documents reveal that the Soviet political leadership was informed about the preparations for the meeting of Neville Chamberlain and Eduard Daladier, on the one hand, and Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, on the other, and predict its possible military and political consequences.
Germany's federal archive compiles list of Jews persecuted by Nazi regime
Germany's federal archive has for the first time compiled a list of 600,000 German Jews persecuted in Third Reich. The list contains the names of Jews who lived in Nazi Germany 1933-1945 (with data like addresses and deportation dates). The index will be delivered to leading archives to help descendants research their family history. Privacy laws prevent the full release, but the list will be given to Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, Washington's Holocaust Museum, the Jewish Claims Conference and the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen. 500,000-550,000 Jews lived in Germany before 1933, by the end of the war only 20,000 (most not of German origin).
Baltic Sea port city of Gdynia uses Internet site to search for pre-WWII residents
Polish city of Gdynia has set up an Internet site hoping to find out the fate of its 120,000 pre-World War II residents, the majority of whom were expelled or killed under Nazi occupation. "The goal of the program is to discover what happened, name by name, to the pre-war citizens. We have a list of 3,000 people who died. Otherwise we don't have accurate and complete data. The data is indispensable, in order to avoid attributing too many crimes to the Nazis," explained Ryszard Toczek. On the website (2wojna.gdynia.pl) the city has published a list of residents by name/address from a 1937 city address book.
The National Archives released list of 24,000 spies who formed the OSS
Famed chef Julia Child, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and Chicago White Sox catcher Moe Berg all had a secret - They served in a spy ring ran by the Office of Strategic Services, an early version of the CIA created in World War II. All of the names and classified files (750,000 pages) naming almost 24,000 spies who formed the first centralized intelligence effort by the US were released by the National Archives. They were soldiers, historians, athletes, professors, reporters. But for several war years, they were known simply as the OSS. They analysed military plans, created propaganda and infiltrated enemy ranks.
New database on legacy of Shanghai Jews
Shanghai's Jewish community celebrated the launch of a database - housed in a museum in the former Ohel Moshe Synagogue - that will record the stories of the thousands of refugees who found a safe haven in China's commercial capital during World War II. So far the database lists the names of 600 of the 30,000 Jews who escaped to Shanghai in the 1930s and 1940s to avoid Nazi death camps and other horrors. And while Jews were denied access to western democraties, China was comparatively open to refugees. The prospering refugee community was forced into a ghetto during the Japanese occupation.
9 Million NARA World War II U.S. Army enlistment records online
Over 9 million WW2 U.S. army enlistment records are now searchable at WorldVitalRecords through a shipment by National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The World War II Army Enlistment database contains the majority of the Army enlistments 1938-1946. It has the serial number, name, state and county, place and date of enlistment, race, grade, Army branch, term of enlistment, longevity, place of birth, year of birth, civilian occupation, marital status, education, military occupational specialty (1945 and later), component, and box and reel number of the microfilmed punch cards.
Yale builds digital archive of Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin's Life
The Andrew W. Mellon foundation gave "Annals of Communism Project" a $1.3M grant to develop a digital archive of Stalin's entire personal archive (40,000 files), including Stalin's WWII letters to and from Roosevelt, his plans for dissenters, and his thoughts on colleagues from Lenin to Trotsky. --- Movie director Sergei Eisenstein was in Mexico in the 1930s making a film with Upton Sinclair, when he got a telegram saying that his absence from the USSR was unacceptable and he should return. When that didn't occur, Stalin's security officials kidnapped Eisenstein's producer. He was never seen again.
German archive focuses on music silenced by the Nazis
Numerous Jewish musicians were forbidden from performing during the Nazi years. Now, a Center for Ostracized Music plans to recover these lost musical voices. After the race laws in 1933, the German Music Chamber (Reichsmusikkammer) set up a register of all musicians. As a result, many musicians had their work suppressed because their race or music offended the Third Reich. Works by composers such as Gustav Mahler, Felix Mendelssohn, and Arnold Schoenberg were prohibited. As the Nazis occupied more countries, the numbers of banned musicians grew. At the moment the archive holds 400 works from 50 ostracized composers.
New online site helps Russians trace war dead
19 million documents stored in the archives of Russia's Defence Ministry have been digitalised. The aim of the project was to help people locate or learn more about relatives killed or never found during the Second World War. Now, the site www.obd-memorial.ru makes it possible people looking for their lost friends and relatives to carry out their own probes into what happened. Records include not only the name, date and place of birth and death, but also scans of original documents.
Time running out to finish World War II veteran list
Many of the 16 million World War II veterans are still missing from the registry at the memorial on the National Mall in Washington. Since the registry was dedicated in 2004, 2.1 million names have been added - 1.5 million by the public. 6,000 new names are added each month. Some veterans say the American Battle Monuments Commission is not doing enough to publicize the list.
War author Cornelius Ryan's huge archive goes on show
An exhibition on the archive of Cornelius Ryan - author of A Bridge Too Far and The Longest Day - starts next weekend. It is part of a weekend organised by Edinburgh University's centre for the study of the two world wars to mark Remembrance Sunday. The archive is one of the largest collections of first-hand information outside of government archives on D-Day, Arnhem and the Fall of Berlin. The exhibition will feature previously unseen documents and statements from those who fought in or contributed to these historical events.
Hidden treasures: Women's Institutes' War Records Book 1939-1945
A collection of Dorset wartime memories has been announced as one of Britain's hidden treasures. The Dorset Federation of Women's Institutes' War Records Book 1939-1945, was selected as one of 5 winners in a competition run by the British Library. The collection will now be converted into a digital format and placed on the British Library's site where it will be accessible to a worldwide audience. The record is a compilation of wartime reflections from each branch of the Women's Institute (WI) across the county. It offers quaint personal tales of everyday life, including a number of photographs and watercolour illustrations.
Copies of Gestapo and concentration camp records arrive at Museums
The keepers of a Nazi archive have delivered 20 million pages, copies of Gestapo papers and concentration camp records, to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and to the Yad Vashem Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. But it will be months before the archive can be used - and even after it opens to the public, navigating the files will be nearly impossible without a trained guide. Most documents are written by hand, sometimes in old German script. They also contain variations in the spelling of names, many recorded phonetically. That makes it impossible, for now, to convert files to a digitally searchable form.
FSB hands over 60,000 archives documents on Nazi crimes to U.S.
The Federal Security Service has been assisting the U.S. in investigating crimes against humanity. "Since 1994, 60,000 pages of documents dealing with Nazi crimes during World War II, kept at the FSB's Central Archives, have been handed over to the U.S.," Vasily Khristoforov, the head of the FSB's Register and Archives Department, said. Cooperation between American and Russian law enforcement and judiciary agencies led to a court ruling to deprive a Nazi accomplice in the extermination of the Warsaw Ghetto of American citizenship.
Russian military declassifies millions of pages of WWII documents (Article no longer available from the original source)
Russia's Defense Ministry has declassified millions of pages of archived material from World War II, including 4 million documents from the Red Army and the navy, as well as papers from Communist Party "commissar" units. The documents should help to determine the number of military personnel killed during the Great Patriotic War. Since the 1991 Soviet collapse, the Russian government has declassified millions of pages and many of the personal papers of dictator Josef Stalin. But in recent years researchers have complained of a return to secrecy in Russia's archives, with fewer and fewer materials being released or declassified.
Database For World War II Missing Soldiers Now Online (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced that an electronic database listing the names of servicemembers still unaccounted for from WWII is now available. This new listing of 78,000 names will aid researchers in WWII remains recovery operations. Prior to this 3-year effort, no comprehensive list of those missing from WWII has existed. The DPMO used hard-copy sources including "The American Graves Registration Service Rosters of Military Personnel Whose Remains were not Recovered" from the National Archives II repository and "The World War II Rosters of the Dead." This WWII database is on DPMO's Web site www.dtic.mil/dpmo/
Online Video Portal to Archive WWII Resistance Fighters
The EU has launched the first online history project that collects videotaped stories of resistance fighters, who stood up against Nazism and Fascism. There have been numerous efforts to document the histories of Nazi camp survivors, trying to make sure their collective history is not lost. Similarly, concerned that the last living resistance fighters were dying out, the EU launched a pilot project in 2006 to preserve their stories and make them available to the public. On May 7, 9 months after it began, The European Resistance Archive (ERA) video portal went online, also offering maps, images, texts and transcriptions of all the interviews.
U.S. agency releases guide on Japanese war crime records
The Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group has compiled a records-finding aid to help researchers locate and use the thousands of files in the U.S. National Archives. "Japanese War Crimes and Related Topics: A Guide to Records at the National Archives" will help researchers identify records, providing an entryway into a vast archive of records that have been underused. 1,700 page guide, with a 240-page reference book, sorts declassified materials from U.S. agencies that probed Japanese war crimes. Those agencies include military, CIA, Office of Strategic Services OSS, and the State Department.
Names Of Dead From Soviet Camps in Germany Published (Article no longer available from the original source)
A museum in Berlin has opened a public display of the names of 43,000 people who died in prison camps operated by the Soviet Union in Germany after World War II. Alexandra Hildebrandt found out that the German Red Cross had a list of the people who perished in Soviet-run camps. She decided to publish the names in books that the public could solve mysteries about the fate of their loved ones. The government says 65,000 people died or were killed in military prison camps run by the Soviets 1945-1950. "My husband said it was 96,000." Historians estimate 180,000 people were held in the camps.
Adolf Hitler's Forgotten Library
You can tell a lot about a person from what he reads. The largely ignored—remnants of Adolf Hitler's personal library reveal a deep but erratic interest in religion and theology. The books that constitute the Hitler Library were discovered by soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division in the spring of 1945 in a salt mine near Berchtesgaden. The collection was later renamed the Third Reich Collection. Why, with hundreds of Hitler biographies, had not more scholars visited it? It is referenced by none of the leading Hitler biographers: Alan Bullock, John Toland, Joachim Fest. Ian Kershaw told me that he visited the collection once.
Secret pre-WWII archives opened - Rise of Mussolini and Hitler
The Vatican has opened part of its vast collection of archives to scholars and historians. The section being opened covers the rise of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler and the run-up to the World War II. It dates from from 1922 until just before the outbreak of war in 1939. Details of the Vatican's relations with Nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler and Fascist Italy's Benito Mussolini are expected to be of great interest to scholars. The Vatican houses one of the world's most important historical archives, the so-called "secret archive" which contains some 2m documents dating back up to 1,000 years.
Intelligence agency opens up secret files on Stalin-Era famines
Ukraine's national intelligence agency, the SBU, declassified 130 state archive files on the country's Stalin-era famine. Between five and seven million Ukrainians are estimated to have died during the 1932-33. Many Ukrainians claim the food shortage was deliberately masterminded by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. SBU spokesman says Ukraine is the first former Soviet country to open up secret documents on this subject.
Slovakia publishes list of WWII confiscations
Slovakia published details of around 10,000 companies confiscated by the Slovak fascist regime during World War II, the first step towards listing all expropriated Jewish property. Details of the companies have been made available on the Internet site of the Nation's Memory Institute (www.upn.gov.sk) responsible for making public the confidential documents of the Slovak fascist regime of 1939-1945, a satellite state of Hitler's Germany.