Common questions about the project #everynamecounts

Since 2016, the Arolsen Archives have gradually been publishing more and more of their documents in an online archive. Most of the users search for names. But lists, in particular, often have no digital link to the names they contain. This means that these lists are not found when users do a name search. But sometimes, they are the last clue to a person’s fate. That’s why we launched #everynamecounts: the goal of the project is to make it possible to find all the names on all the documents contained in our online archive!

Anyone who has a PC and a reliable internet connection can take part in #everynamecounts.

Follow four simple steps to take part:

1. Open the project page 
2. Click “Classify” or choose lists from a specific camp under “Get started”
3. Read the helpful hints for working with our archival documents
4. Join in!

We want to ensure that every single name contained in the documents of the Arolsen Archives can be found in the online archive, and we want to do this as quickly as possible – so that users can access all the information there is on the fate of the people concerned.

The Arolsen Archives are not subject to national data protection directives, but to specific international provisions. These stipulate that – with a few exceptions – the documents in the archive may be made public. The exceptions include inquiries that are less than 25 years old, for example, as well as particularly sensitive documents like medical files.

No, you don’t need to register.

Don’t worry! To avoid mistakes in the database, every name has to be entered in exactly the same way by two different people. Only then is a name accepted by the system.

The data are checked once more by staff of the Arolsen Archives before being transferred to the database which is at the heart of the online archive. This process takes a few weeks. Ultimately, each list you work on will be found whenever a user searches the online archive for one of the names it contains – sometimes this will provide the final clue to a person’s fate.

Whether colleagues, school classes, sports teams or a group of friends: The digital introduction and other education material for #everynamecounts offer everyone the opportunity to participate in the project and learn together about the National Socialist persecution.

We sometimes use OCR (optical character recognition) when we digitize typewritten documents. However, this technology is not suitable for mass indexing our collections, as our documents are so diverse. This means that using OCR would usually be more labor-intensive than manual indexing.

But what is even more important is that #everynamecounts is all about active remembrance, about giving volunteers the opportunity to commemorate the victims of Nazi crimes. With every list you work on, you are helping victims and their families and friends by creating digital tags that will enable them to find the last traces of the people they are searching for.

The documents to be processed are lists from concentration camps. They can be transport lists, for example, or so-called status reports, which documented who were the new arrivals to the camp, who had been transferred to another camp, and who had died.

Common questions about the Arolsen Archives

The Arolsen Archives are an international center on the victims of Nazi persecution with the world’s most comprehensive archive on those who died as well as those who survived the Nazi era. Their collections contain millions of documents on millions of fates. They are a paper monument – and have been recognized by UNESCO as part of the world’s documentary heritage.

The Arolsen Archives were founded in 1947 by the Allies. Their original mission was to search for missing victims of the Nazi dictatorship and for documents about paths of persecution and the crimes committed by the National Socialists. In 1948, this led to the creation of the International Tracing Service (ITS). The archive has spent decades collecting and preserving documents covering all of the victim groups targeted by the Hitler regime.

In 2013, the archive was inscribed on UNESCO’S Memory of the World Register. And in 2019, the organization changed its name to Arolsen Archives. Today, it is an international center on persecution under National Socialism.

The collections of the Arolsen Archives contain information on all the victim groups targeted by Nazi persecution. That makes them a unique resource, the only one of their kind in the world. The archive contains over 30 million files, index cards, and lists that contain the names of victims of the Holocaust and prisoners of the concentration camps, foreign forced laborers, and survivors.

17.5 million names on reference cards contain information on 17.5 million fates. The Arolsen Archives also hold about 2800 personal effects. These are the personal belongings of former victims of Nazi persecution; most of them were found in concentration camps. The aim is to return them to the families and descendants of their rightful owners.

75 years after the end of the Second World War, only a few contemporary witnesses to the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis are still alive. This makes it more important than ever for the documents in the Arolsen Archives to bear witness to these past events – now and in the future. That is why they are being stored, processed, and made accessible to the public.

The Arolsen Archives are a living monument that protects the memory of the atrocities committed during the Nazi period that are now being denied by new generations of racists and antisemites. Anyone can use the online archive of the Arolsen Archives to find out about the fates of the victims and ensure that they are never forgotten.

232 employees work in the various departments of the Arolsen Archives. They are involved in a range of different activities, such as investigating the fate of individuals for the families or friends of victims, conserving and digitizing the documents, carrying out research, and developing educational materials.

join in now!