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The GRC Tracing Service: How we work

Tracing. Connecting. Reuniting.

The Tracing Service is a core service of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. Its mission is to preserve the humanitarian right to know how one’s relatives are doing or what has become of them. As early as 1859, Red Cross founder Henry Dunant collected messages from injured and dying soldiers on the battlefields of Solferino and informed their relatives. The GRC Tracing Service has been carrying out its duties within the GRC since 1945.

The GRC Tracing Service has been dealing with the consequences of the Second World War, the Iron Curtain and the division of Germany for decades. The fate of 1.3 million people has still not been conclusively clarified.

Even today, the GRC Tracing Service is a contact point for people who do not know where their relatives are due to armed conflicts, catastrophes, flight, expulsion and migration. The GRC Tracing Service helps people who have been separated involuntarily from their relatives and often find themselves in different countries in their wish to live together again.

“Tracing Service” is a generic term that describes a range of tasks aimed at preventing the separation of family members and supporting them in restoring and maintaining contact and in reuniting, as well as tasks aimed at clarifying the fate and whereabouts of missing persons.

These tasks may be combined with other support services, such as the provision of legal, administrative and material assistance to families.

The term “Restoring Family Links (RFL)” is used as a generic term for all tracing service tasks.

  • Tasks and legal basis

    Tasks and legal basis

    The Tracing Service is a core service of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. Its mission is to preserve the humanitarian right to know how one’s relatives are doing or what has become of them.
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  • GRC Tracing Service campaign logo

    Organisation and structure

    The GRC Tracing Service fulfils its tasks at the central Tracing Service Offices in Hamburg and Munich, which are assigned to the GRC Headquarters, as well as nationwide at the Tracing Service facilities of the 19 GRC regional branches with about 90 GRC Tracing Service support centres manned by full-time staff.
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  • International humanitarian law landmark

    Cooperation within the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement

    The International Tracing Service Network consists currently of 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (as of December 2019) and the Central Tracing Service of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
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  • Cooperation with other institutions

    Cooperation with other institutions

    The GRC Tracing Service also cooperates confidentially with other institutions in the processing of inquiries related to the Second World War and in the provision of advice pursuant to family reunification.
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  • Datenschutz und Vertraulichkeit

    Datenschutz und Vertraulichkeit

    Der DRK-Suchdienst nimmt den Schutz personenbezogener Daten sehr ernst.
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