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Second World War archives: Research suspended for conservation work


A new project to conserve the ICRC’s archives on the Second World War has led to the suspension of research on the information collected about individuals by the Central Prisoners-of-War Agency during the conflict.

Just as during the First World War, the Agency used a system of index cards to store crucial information about individuals provided by the detaining authorities, ICRC delegations and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The archives contain some 36 million such cards.

As a result, in-depth research in these archives is relatively complex and can take many hours. Up until January 2014, ICRC staff processed thousands of requests from relatives of prisoners of war or historians looking for information still today.

The ICRC has suspended this service while the conservation project is under way.

Since February 2014, the archives service is accepting only requests that fulfil specific conditions. Requests received prior to February 2014 will still be processed within approximately 12 to 18 months.