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2021

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a memorial day designated by the United Nations to mark the anniversary of the January 27, 1945, liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp.

Black and white aerial photograph of Auschwitz Concentration Camp taken in August 1944

Auschwitz I (Main Camp) - Oswiecim, Poland, 8/25/1944. From the series: Aerial Photography of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, 1894 - 2002. National Archives Identifier 305899

The National Archives is the international epicenter of Holocaust-related research. NARA holds millions of records created or received by the U.S. Government during and after World War II that document Nazi war crimes, wartime refugee issues, and activities and investigations of U.S. Government agencies involved in the identification and recovery of looted assets (including gold, art, and cultural property)—as well as captured German records used as evidence at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunals. We not only hold these records, we provide access to them.

Page 1 of a handwritten letter to Reverend and Mrs. D.H. Porter from their son, describing the conditions of the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany, written in 1945
Page 2 of a handwritten letter to Reverend and Mrs. D.H. Porter from their son, describing the conditions of the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany, written in 1945
Letter to Rev. and Mrs. D. H. Porter, 5/7/1945 describing the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany. National Archives Identifier 1055429
History Hub

Start your research on History Hub
For those looking to conduct research on the Holocaust and other World War II-related topics, we encourage you to browse recent posts and questions here on History Hub:

Citizen Archivist Transcription Mission:
World War II Looted Art

The Third Reich’s Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, was the main agency involved in the systematic looting of cultural treasures in Nazi-occupied countries. Hitler ordered that all looted art be placed at his personal disposal. These plundered treasures and gold were hidden in castles such as Neuschwanstein Castle in Hohenschwangau, Germany, and in salt mines such as those found in Altaussee, Austria and Merkers, Germany.

Black and white photograph of Adolf Hitler inspecting looted artwork
Photograph of Hitler Inspecting Looted Artwork National Archives Identifier 175539523

For this World War II Looted Art transcription mission, help us transcribe property control cards which include information indicating to which country Nazi-looted cultural objects were restituted. In addition, the cards may include information such as artwork classification, measurements, identifying marks, history and ownership, condition and repair, arrival, destination and exit information, and the disposition of each item. In some cases, a photograph of the artwork is attached to the corresponding card.  These cards are digitized microfilm, so many are dark and low contrast. There is no need to mimic the layout of each card, just capture the data found within each field.

Property control card for a painting of the Dutch canal
Paintings: Wie 5589, Dutch Canal. National Archives Identifier 74149473

How many records can you transcribe? Get started transcribing now.
New to the Citizen Archivist program? Learn how to register and get started.

Black and white photograph of Master Sergeant Maus with an engraving found among looted art treasures, 1945

Master Sergeant Harold Maus of Scranton, PA is pictured with the Durer engraving, found among other art treasures at Merker, 5/13/1945. National Archives Identifier 5757194

Black and white photograph of two soldiers inspecting a Rembrandt self portrait among looted art treasures

"A priceless original Rembrandt, self portrait, is inspected by (left to right): Lt. Dale V. Ford and Tec 4 Harry L. Ettlinger. Lt. Ford is a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan, while Tec 4 Ettinger hails from Irvington, New Jersey. Hielbronn." 5/3/1946. National Archives Identifier 176250354

Learn more on our Google Arts & Culture exhibit, World War II Looted Art: Turning History into Justice.

Title slide of the online exhibit, World War II Looted Art: Turning History into Justice

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As digitization standards have evolved throughout the years, NARA has worked to keep up with best practices. However, despite our efforts to stay ahead of the curve, there are still photographs in our Catalog that were digitized many years ago and don’t necessarily meet the requirements to be considered “high resolution.” Specifically, researchers are likely to come across GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) files, which is more or less an outdated format in terms of digitization. While we are currently working to replace GIF files in our Catalog, in the meantime, researchers may be able to obtain higher resolution JPG/JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) and TIF/TIFF (Tag Image File Format) versions by searching Wikimedia Commons. The following is a step-by-step guide on how to find JPG and TIF files when the only version available in our Catalog is a GIF.*

 

 

You find a GIF file in the National Archives Catalog. Highlight and copy the National Archives Identifier number.

 

 

Go to Wikimedia Commons and paste the National Archives Identifier into the search bar (located in the top right-hand corner).

 

 

If there are any higher resolution copies of the photo available on Wikimedia Commons, the files usually appear within the top 5 search results.

 

 

After choosing the file format you want to use (JPG, TIF), click “download.”

 

 

Choose file resolution.

 

 

GIF version of 412-DA-731 (Santa Cruz, CA in May 1972, Photographer: Dick Rowan)

GIF version of 412-DA-731 (Santa Cruz, CA in May 1972, Photographer: Dick Rowan)

JPG version of 412-DA-731 (Santa Cruz, CA in May 1972, Photographer: Dick Rowan)

 

 

NARA staff have been working to add higher resolution versions to series that were originally uploaded as GIFs, so there are some instances where there are multiple file types available to download from our Catalog. In instances where a GIF and a JPG exist, but there is no TIF version, it is worth searching Wikimedia Commons to see if a TIF is available. The following is an example of that scenario.

 

 

*Please be aware that these instructions only apply to older digitization project in which GIFs were the original files uploaded to the Catalog.

 

A version of this post was originally published on the National Archives' Unwritten Record blog. The Unwritten Record is dedicated to highlighting special media holdings at NARA. Check it out!