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Displaced Persons Research
Towards the end of World War II, many areas of German were given to Poland, and the German citizens were expelled. Several organizations have worked to gather data on displaced Germans in order to reunite families and provide aid.
- The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen . Recently the ITS made its material available to the public for research.
- Heimatkreise, or “homeland organizations” exist for various Posen counties in Germany today. Members include those who were born in the respective Kreis or had their permanent residence there, as well as their descendants. The Heimatkreis may be able to help you locate relatives or others who came from the same area as your ancestors. Many groups have homepages on the Internet ( usually in German), which can be located by entering “Heimatkreis + [county name] “ in a search engine such as www.google.de. Similar homeland organizations exist for the various Kreise in East Brandenburg, Pomerania (Pommern), Silesia (Schlesien), East Prussia (Ostpreussen), and West Prussia (Westpreussen).
- The Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ostdeutscher Familienforscher (Work Group of East German Family Historians or AGoFF) can also point you to various helpful organizations and web links for each area.
- The Kirchlicher Suchdienst (Tracing service of the ecclesiastical Welfare organizations) can also help in locating relatives who were displaced after 1945. More than 20 million persons are included in card files arranged by the town of origin known as "Heimatortskartei".