1 Reply Latest reply on Dec 8, 2020 8:04 AM by Rachael Salyer

    Seeking Records of German POWs Captured in Austria


      My grandfather served in the Waffen-SS during World War II. He arrived in the US in 1950 as a Displaced Person from US Army Camp Bremen-Grohn, which listed him as arriving there from Austria. This leads me to surmise that he may have been in one of the SS units which surrendered to the US Army in Austria in May 1945. To confirm this theory, I'm wondering if the Army has records of POWs captured in Austria in 1945. Based on other research, my best guess is that he was in the 37th SS Volunteer Cavalry Division, which surrendered in Steyr, Austria, on 9 May 1945. Thank you for your assistance.

        • Re: Seeking Records of German POWs Captured in Austria
          Rachael Salyer Ranger

          Dear Mr. Hendler,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          The personnel records of World War II German Prisoners of War (POWs) were returned to Germany. For access to these records, please write to the Deutsche Dienstelle (WASt), Postfach 51 06 57, D-13400 Berlin, Germany. The website is https://www.dd-wast.de/.


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Microfilm Publication A3343 Records Relating to Membership in the Schutzstaffeln (SS) of the NSDAP in the National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized (Record Group 242). A3343 contains several subseries, including SS Officer Personnel Files (SSO) and SS Enlisted Men Personnel Files (SM) that may include a file for your grandfather. These records have not been digitized, and they are available on microfilm at the National Archives Microfilm Reading Room in College Park, MD. There is a name index to these records, but it also has not been digitized. Please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at archives2reference@nara.gov with any questions you may have about these records. When writing an inquiry to RDT2, please make sure to include as much information about your grandfather as possible, including his first and last name, his date of birth and place of birth.


          We also located the series Central Decimal Files, 1910-1963 in the General Records of the Department of State (Record Group 59) that may be helpful for your research. These records are arranged in several chronological segments (e.g. 1940-1944 and 1945-1949), and there is a Name Index to them. Since your grandfather came to the U.S. as a displaced person, he might have communicated with the Department of State (or someone might have communicated with them on his behalf). Most of the records and the index have not been digitized. For assistance with or access to these records, please contact RDT2.


          The National Archives does have records of the Displaced Persons Commission in Record Group 278. The records consist of policy and administrative files; they do not include files relating to individual displaced persons or lists of names of displaced persons. The individual case files have been destroyed. You may survey RG 278 holdings (34 series total) in the National Archives Catalog. Again, please contact RDT2 for further assistance with these records.


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from  RDT2. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


          Please also note that immigrant visas, both quota and non-quota (and supporting documentation), issued by the Department of State to aliens at U.S. embassies, legations, and consulates overseas  are surrendered to U.S. immigration officials upon admission to the United States. The immigrant visas and associated documentation accumulated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service between July 1, 1924, and March 31, 1944, were maintained by the central office in Washington, DC in the Visa Files. Subsequent immigrant visas were filed in the Alien Files (“A-Files”) or the Certificate Files (“C-Files”). Those records are preserved, but remain in the custody of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For more information on the different types of files and how to request access to them, please see the USCIS History Office and Library.


          We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!

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