POWs of World War 1 searchable database

The International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva, has the WWI records of the International Prisoners-of-War Agency in its archives. In 2008, the ICRC’s archivists began a project to restore and scan its lists and index cards.Through summer 2011, it annually handled hundreds of requests for information. That’s when ICRC stopped taking requests, so it could begin digitising the materials.

The good news is that after 3 long years of work, ICRC put a searchable database online in August 2014! Visit it here

During the First World War, the International Prisoners-of-War Agency collected, analysed and classified information it received from the detaining powers and national agencies about prisoners of war and civilian internees. It compared this information with requests submitted to it by relatives or friends, in order to restore contact between them. The Agency’s collections consist of some 500,000 pages of lists and 6 million index cards. The Agency’s archives also contain diplomatic correspondence between the ICRC and the warring countries on protection for detainees and reports on visits by ICRC delegates to prisoner-of-war camps.

To get an idea of the Agency’s work, and samples of the types of materials, download the ICRC pamphlet on the Agency and archives here.

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