Collection - Archives of the International Prisoners-of-War Agency

Identity area

Reference code

Title

Archives of the International Prisoners-of-War Agency

Date(s)

  • 1914-1919 (Creation)

Level of description

Collection

Extent and medium

400,000 pages of documents: lists of prisoners’ names and records of capture, of transfers between camps and of deaths in detention
5 million index cards, containing data on 2 million prisoners, primarily from the Western, Romanian and Serbian Fronts

Context area

Name of creator

Archival history

During the First World War, 8 million soldiers fighting on the front and 2 million civilians, mainly those living abroad in enemy countries or areas under enemy occupation, were taken prisoner and interned in camps for several years.
On 21 August 1914, the ICRC established the International Prisoners-of-War Agency in Geneva, to which the warring States submitted, more or less regularly, lists of prisoners. The Agency received 400,000 pages of documents: lists of prisoners’ names and records of capture, of transfers between camps and of deaths in detention.
For each name listed, the Agency made out an index card. The cards were then classified by nationality and the detainee’s military or civilian status and filed alphabetically in 29 different card indexes. These indexes also contain enquiry cards, drawn up on the basis of data taken from the thousands of written requests for information submitted daily by relatives of the missing, which the Agency indexed before destroying the correspondence.

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Finding aids

Individual data on prisoners of war will be posted gradually over the year 2014. Altogether, 5 million cards on prisoners and 500,000 pages of records associated with these cards will be available on this website. Currently 90% of the data is already available.
It is important to note that the online uploads are not processed as an alphabetic suite of each series of cards but rather in correspondence with the nationality and the status of the prisoner. It is possible that alphabetic series or cards may lack randomly.

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Related units of description

Indexes relating to the vast Russian Front are kept in the archives of the Danish Red Cross in Copenhagen, as Denmark was a neutral State during the First World War.

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Archivist's note

Aleksandra Pawliczek, FUB

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