World War II: Refugees
"It would be a dangerous error to think of the Holocaust as simply the result of the insanity of a group of criminal Nazis. On the contrary, the Holocaust was the culmination of millennia of hatred, scapegoating and discrimination targeting the Jews, what we now call anti-Semitism". -- UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
At the UN
League of Nations Archives (at the UN Office in Geneva Library)
United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA)
International Refugee Organization (IRO)
United Nations War Crimes Commission - To view in New York, please contact us to request access to the Charge Files series. Records are also available (with no access restrictions) in Washington, D.C. at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
A reflection on past war crimes and today’s crimes against humanity
High Commissioner Dialogue with Ben Ferencz
Listen to The Lid Is On podcast with Ben Ferencz (one of the prosecutors of the Nuremberg war crime trials)
The Children of Grugliasco
In 2015 when the UN Archives did an exhibition for the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations, we displayed some archives of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). Included among them was a picture of young Peter Tannenbaum, and a letter from his father to the Director of UNRRA. The Tannenbaums had survived the Holocaust, and were living in an UNRRA-administered refugee camp in Grugliasco, Italy, where Peter had just been born.
Looking for WWII-Era Refugees
International Tracing Service's "Request for persons persecuted by National Socialism, their families and representatives" in Bad Arolsen, Germany
The Red Cross tracing service, via your local Red Cross chapter
Yad Vashem's Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names in Jerusalem, Israel
The Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute at the Center for Jewish History in New York City, USA
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum's Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center in Washington, DC, USA
International Refugee Organization Archives at Archives Nationals in Paris, France
The Routes to Roots Foundation, an online database for Jewish and civil records in Eastern Europe
Many of these organizations provide services over the web as well as in person.
United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was established by agreement of 44 nations on 9 November 1943; operations came to an end in the latter part of 1946, with the last staff appointment terminating 31 March 1949. The purpose of UNRRA was to "plan, co-ordinate, administer or arrange for the administration of measures for the relief of victims of war in any area under the control of any of the United Nations through the provision of food, fuel, clothing, shelter and other basic necessities, medical and other essential services".
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Documents, Film and Audio
Digitized Documents at the Hathi Trust Digital Library
Series related to UNRRA at the US National Archives
Robert E. Asher papers at the US National Archives
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Register of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration China Office at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University
UNRRA Clothing Collection at the University of Melbourne