The Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 provide that in the event of war, the signatory states must each establish national information bureaus. Their task is to collect and forward information on prisoners of war and civilian internees. In this way, all parties to the conflict involved are to ensure that families receive information about the fate of their missing relatives.
In 1966 the GRC was entrusted by the Federal Government with the planning, preparation and operation of such an Official Information Bureau (AAB) in the Federal Republic of Germany. Within the Association this task is performed by the GRC Tracing Service. At the time, the Tracing Service had already gained extensive experience in tracing and clarifying the fate of missing persons from the Second World War, e.g. Wehrmacht soldiers and civilians.
The AAB has an obligation to collect certain information on prisoners of war and civilian internees affiliated with the opposing party. The AAB forwards this information to the Central Tracing Service of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and to the AAB of the opposing conflict party. Similarly, information on German prisoners of war or civilian internees is forwarded to the AAB in Germany via the Central Tracing Service or the AAB of the opposing conflict party. This ensures that relatives are informed about the fate and state of health of prisoners.
The AAB is also responsible for administering the legacies of prisoners of war and civilian internees and works closely with the GRC Regional Offices at GRC regional branch level.
Person information centres
At the level of the GRC district branches, the voluntary GRC District Offices for Disaster Tracing Inquiries (KAB) in the structure of the AAB are responsible for taking on different tasks.
They are also active in the event of disasters and major incidents in Germany as so-called person information centres by gathering information on injured persons and missing persons and sharing this information with concerned relatives.
Would you like to volunteer for the GRC Tracing Service?
You can find detailed information about volunteer work at the KAB on the homepage of your GRC district branch.
The flyer “Voluntary work with the GRC Tracing Service” gives an overview of the tasks in the KAB.
Do you have any questions about the National Information Bureau or would you like to volunteer for the GRC Tracing Service? The Tracing Service is available to you personally in a GRC regional branch near you. There you will be referred to a contact person in the GRC district branch.
You can also contact us here:
German Red Cross
Tracing Service Head Office