International Tracing Service- Child search Branch: Papers re Lebensborn children etc

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 70506
1 Jan 1940 - 31 Jan 1959
Level of Description
EHRI Partner


Biographical History

The concept of a bureau for tracing missing persons during WWII goes back to the 1943 initiative at the Headquarters of the Allied Forces, which enabled the section for international affairs at the British red Cross in London to provide this function. Spurred by the need to acquire more precise information about the fate of forced labourers and refugees in Europe, the task was taken over by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces on 15 February 1944. From the end of the war until 30 June 1947 the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration assumed the task of supporting and repatriating millions of non-German refugees. It moved to Arolsen, Germany in January 1946, which was the geographical centre of the 4 occupation zones. On 1 July 1947 the International Refugee Organisation took over the Central Tracing Bureau, which, as of 1 January 1948, under the name International Tracing Service, is still valid today.

Lebensborn (Fount of life), registered association, established in December 1935 within the SS Rasse und Siedlungshauptamt (RuSHA). In an extension of the marriage order of 1932, the Lebensborn Statute of September 1936 charged every SS man to produce at least 4 children, whether in or out of wedlock. The children were to come into the world in well-equipped Lebensborn homes, which protected the mothers from the surrounding world. Lebensborn provided birth documents and the child's basic support, and recruited adoptive parents. Financed by compulsory contributions from the RuSHA leadership, by 1944 a total of 13 homes were maintained, in which some 11,000 children were born. Estimates for the number of kidnappings of racially suitable non-aryans vary from several thousand to 200,000.

Archival History

The provenance is unknown.

Scope and Content

This microfilm collection of documentation apparently emanating from the offices of the International Tracing Service deals in large part with children adopted by the Lebensborn programme.

System of Arrangement

The original deposit consisted of 2 files now represented by MF Doc 531a/ frames 1-197; and 198-415. There is no discernible order to the arrangement.

Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Reproduction

Use MF Doc 54/ Reel 10

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements




This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.