Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Red Cross War Records Discovered

"In March 2009 Peter Barton, a British researcher, was commissioned to research the identities of WW I casualties found in a mass grave in France. His research led him to the basement of the Red Cross headquarters in Geneva where he found an estimated 20 million records virtually untouched since 1918. These records contain information passed on by combatants to Red Cross volunteers. The records detail the capture, death, burial and personal effects of servicemen from over 30 nations. The provide soldier's home addresses and next of kin and they detail the location and condition or injuries of prisoners at the time of capture. Some of the records refer to mass graves with exact directions as to where they were dug and the identities of the soldiers buried there. There are plans to begin digitizing the records this autumn with a goal of having the WW I archives online by 2014, the 100th anniversary of the start of the war. This is only the start. There are millions more records in the archive from other wars starting with the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War to the WW II and more recent conflicts. The extent to which those records will become available depends on the available funding and volunteers." (Thanks to Beth Shields)

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