Monday, 18 February 2013

The International Tracing Service: Following the bread crumbs

On the 18th of July last year I sent an electronic request to the International Tracing Service (ITS). For those who don't know what the ITS does I will quote from their website:
The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen is a centre for documentation, information and research on Nazi persecution, forced labour and the Holocaust. It documents the fate of millions of victims whose names and memory are to be preserved. 
Janis survived WWII and he told me some information about himself and his brother however there are a lot of unanswered questions - questions I can no longer ask him since he has passed away. The ITS will provide information that they have on lost or deceased relatives who were victims of the NAZI regime.

I placed the request to find out more information about Janis CIRKSIS and his brother Peteris CIRKSIS. I am told that Peteris was shot by the Germans either in a case of mistaken identity or because he had been a communist - he decided to stay in Latvia when the Germans came because he was horrified by what the Russian communists did to the Latvian people. I also wanted to find out more about Janis' movements during and after WW2. Where did he go and what was it like there? Well the ITS has provided some answers for me!

CIRKSIS, Janis, born on the [redacted] 1924 in Nicas, nationality: Latvian, religion: Protestant, marital status: single, occupation: Engineer-mechanic, was on the 28th June 1948 in DP-Camp Barum, and emigrated on 24th  1950 from Bremerhaven aboard the ship "Anna Salen" to Australia, remark: ex Fallingbostel

This runs somewhat contrary to what I had initially thought: That Janis had been at Baltic DP camp Wohnheim which as far as I can ascertain was near Hallendorf (though the photos I have suggest that he may have stayed or at least visited there as well).

The ITS also provided me with a copy of Janis' Refugee/Displaced person statistical card.

Unfortunately, with regard to Peteris CIRKSIS the ITS "could not investigate any details within [their] documents". To me that was an ambiguous thing to say. Does that mean they don't have any documents relating to Peteris or that they do have documents but were unable to investigate them for other reasons?

On the bright side, they have send me a questionnaire so that enquiries can be made with the Latvian Red Cross. Perhaps they will be able to shed some light on what happened to Peteris CIRKSIS.

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