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Missing persons’ photo collections – Online

You can do an online search on the GRC Tracing Service’s missing persons’ photo collection (unfortunately only in German).


Heimkehrerbefragung anhand der Vermisstenbildlisten. (DRK-Suchdienst)

The missing persons’ photo collections came into being at the end of the 1950s. The GRC Tracing Service asked all registered enquirers to send in photos of their missing relatives. The photos and names were put in order by military units, combined into photo collections which were from December 1957 printed. The complete set of all photo collections was ready in 1958. It was made up of 225 volumes with over 125,000 pages in the end. The photos of missing Wehrmacht soldiers were printed in 199 of the volumes, while the other 26 volumes contained photos of missing civilians. The volumes held files on around 1.4 million missing persons, of which 900,000 contained a photo.

Since April 2015, the missing persons’ photo collections, listing missing Second World War Wehrmacht soldiers, is available online after many years of digitilisation.

The collections’ structure and how to search

The missing are grouped according to their last military unit, the day and place of disappearance, the same battle or the same POW camp.

In accordance with the structure of the printed missing persons’ picture collections, the online collection is also arranged according to military branch, such as Army, Marines, Air force as well as Police/Waffen-SS, and POW camps

To search a photo collection you will need a field post number, a camp number, a troop address or the location of a specific unit or camp.

Limits of the search and its significance

It is not possible however to search by: first and last name, occupation, last place of residence or date of birth, rank, place or date of disappearance.

As the collections are based on requests received, they do not constitute a register of casualties of the units listed.

The collections contain persons who are being searched fornot their clarified fates.

As their production ended in the mid-1960s, these collections are not continuously up-dated publications and contain no interview results.

Background, genesis and use

The GRC Tracing Service’s missing persons’ photo collections document the consequences of a world war that caused more victims among soldiers and civilians than any other war before.

In interviewing returning soldiers it quickly became clear that they remembered the faces of comrades who had fallen, been captured or had died in POW camps far better than their names. For this reason, the GRC Tracing Service printed photo collections that have been made available to the federal, district and local branches of the German Red Cross since 1958. A special interview service was created that was using busses and, in cooperation with other bodies, interviewed around 2.65 million returnees up until 1964 and thereby produced around 241,000 statements containing concrete information about the fate of missing soldiers. According to these statements, of the still missing soldiers, 27,031 had certainly fallen, 67,384 had probably fallen, and 33,843 had been captured.

In the mid-1970s, the GRC Tracing Service’s collections of missing persons’ photos was honoured with the “cultural prize” of the German Photographic Association. For many relatives the collections are a memorial book. To those interested in military history, they offer information about the losses of units and evidence, to be found almost nowhere else, about administrative subordination and troop addresses.