IMPORTANT NOTE: Relocation of the Tracing Service Hamburg Office

We are moving


ملاحظة هامة: نقل مكتب هامبورغ لخدمات البحث عن المفقودين

ملاحظة هامة
ستجد هنا وصفًا لكيفية الوصول إلى الموقع الجديد لخدمة البحث عن المفقودين التابعة للصليب الأحمر الألماني في هامبورغ.

Trace the Face -
Photo-based online tracing Family Links Poster
Trace the Face -
also on Facebook 
Link to the international Tracing Service Network Family Links Network

GRC Tracing Service in your area:

Children's tracing service

Individual stories from the Second World War
Forced adoptions / GDR
Ethnic German repatriates / "wolf children"
Underaccompanied minor refugees

The Children’s Tracing Service dedicates itself to children who due to war, flight or expulsion have lost their parents.

Children's picture poster from the 1970s. Photo: GRC tracing serviceFates of the children of the Second World War

Most of the requests made to the Children's Tracing Service are related to the event’s of the Second World War. They are made by people who even today have the need to find out who their biological parents are, where their roots are and to find the place they actually belong. Since 1945 the GRC Tracing Service has clarified the fate of around 500,000 children.

Particular attention was for a long time directed to the 33,000 so-called “foundlings”. They were mostly separated from their families while fleeing and were also too young to know their own names and ages. Using various methods, the Children’s Tracing Service was able to reduce their number to 400.

In the 1970s the search for and by illegitimate children began, whose fathers were German soldiers as well as occupation soldiers stationed in Germany for a short time. This affects approximately several hundred thousand children who were born between 1940 until well into the post-war period.

A person searching for a relative looking at a poster of a child. Photo: GRC tracing serviceForced adoptions in the former GDR

People who were forcibly adopted during the GDR also turn to the Children’s Tracing Service. These adoptions happened, for example, because parents had escaped or tried to escape and as punishment had their children taken away from them. In many cases, those affected only found out about it as adults after the German reunification. At least, from that moment on, they were able to try to find out more about their origins. These children, and in many cases the parents as well, have a vital interest in clarifying their fates.

Identification of ethnic German repatriates

There are also cases of unresolved identities of children among the ethnic German repatriates from the former Soviet Union. The so-called “wolf children” belong to this group. These are mostly people who came from East Prussia and who lost their parents as children in the turmoil of war and afterwards had to fend for themselves as they moved across the country or hid out in the woods. These children usually knew almost nothing about their families of origin. They were frequently taken in by Lithuanian families who gave them Lithuanian names and, in the absence of knowledge, new birth dates. This led to today’s situation that the affected adults can give barely any details about their birth parents and actual origin when they need to re-establish their true identity in case they wish to immigrate to Germany. Even if it is very difficult to clarify such fatesy, the GRC Tracing Service is committed to helping people who apply for emigration.

Unaccompanied minor refugees

Due to current wars, flight and displacement children today are also separated from their parents. A number of the unaccompanied minor refugees who arrive in Germany without guardians do not know where their parents are and how they are. At the request of the children, the GRC Tracing Service can use Trace the Face, the possibility of an online search with photos, to search for their nearest relatives and will try to reunite the family.

You can find more information about our services we are offering to unaccompanied minor refugees here.