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IRO card (French occupation zone)

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FSt. Goarshausen153.185Roter PunktCofalik, Zina, Geburtsdatum und Nationalität2BCM/1 destroyedEm. Canada plus Datum1 unten rechtsNationalität 3 juni 55

IRO employees used these cards in the French occupation zone. They noted the DPs’ location and the amount of support provided to them. When DPs emigrated with the help of the IRO Care and Maintenance program, their date of emigration and destination country were also recorded. Very little is known about these cards, as can be seen in the fact that they are referred to only as IRO cards.

IRO employees used these cards in the French occupation zone. They noted the DPs’ location and the amount of support provided to them. When DPs emigrated with the help of the IRO Care and Maintenance program, their date of emigration and destination country were also recorded. Very little is known about these cards, as can be seen in the fact that they are referred to only as IRO cards.

Background information on DP documents

Further examples

Questions and answers

  • Where was the document used and who created it?

    When the IRO took over responsibility for the DPs’ care, there were somewhat more than 45,600 DPs in the French occupation zone in Germany (which more or less corresponds to what is today the Rhineland-Palatinate and southwestern Baden-Württemberg). To help the DPs return to their countries of origin or emigrate, IRO employees reviewed their DP status. On the basis of CM/1 applications and other documents, they decided how much support they could provide to DPs and their families.
    In connection with this, documents were created which are referred to by the Arolsen Archives as IRO cards. Unfortunately, all that is known about these cards is that IRO employees filled them out in the French occupation zone. They used them to note the DPs’ personal details, the DP category they had been assigned to, and when they emigrated to which country. The cards reveal the most important information about the DPs at a glance.

  • When was the document used?

    The stamp “CM/1 destroyed” and the information about the DP status make it clear that these cards were produced in connection with the Care and Maintenance program of the IRO. This means that IRO employees could only have used the cards between July 1947 and December 1951. From the spring/summer of 1955, ITS employees used the cards in Arolsen to respond to tracing inquiries.

  • What was the document used for?

    Like the other occupation zones, there were DPs living in the part of Germany occupied by France after the war. In the four and half years of its existence, the IRO was responsible for a total of nearly 61,500 DPs in the French occupation zone. This number was far smaller than in the British and US zones, where around 326,700 and more than half a million DPs, respectively, received IRO support in the same period.

    In the French occupation zone, too, the IRO began supporting DPs in July 1947, mainly helping them start a new life. For example, IRO employees enabled around 38,000 DPs – more than half of all the DPs in the French occupation zone – to emigrate. Around 2,700 returned to their countries of origin with the help of the IRO. To be able to quickly find all relevant information about the DPs, IRO employees created card files. They used the cards to note the personal details of the DPs as well as their status above all, which determined how much support they would receive. This status and the date it was granted are specified on the IRO cards from the French occupation zone using abbreviations: “B” for extensive support, “BJS” for support on site but no emigration assistance, and “BN” or “BJ” for DPs who were within the mandate of the IRO and thus received political protection but no additional assistance. The IRO employees also wrote when a DP had emigrated and what country they had moved to.

  • How common is the document?

    The IRO took care of a total of nearly 61,500 DPs in the French occupation zone. This figure does not include the DPs in the French zone of Austria, for whom no cards have yet been found. It is unfortunately not possible to say whether IRO employees even filled out these small cards for everyone. The precise number of cards preserved in the Arolsen Archives is also not known. Since the ITS (the predecessor to the Arolsen Archives) needed the cards to search for missing persons, ITS employees organized the IRO cards following an alphabetical-phonetic system and placed them in a large general index. This postwar card file (Nachkriegszeitkartei, Collection 3.1.1.1) now comprises around 3.5 million documents. Filing the cards this way made it possible to respond to tracing inquiries more quickly because the employees only needed to look in one card file instead of several. Unfortunately, this also means it is no longer possible to determine how many IRO cards from the French occupation zone have been preserved. But in the near future, modern computer technology will find the answer: clustering techniques will make it possible to virtually reassemble the card file of the IRO – as well as other card files.

  • What should be considered when working with the document?

    Very little is known about exactly how the IRO cards in the French occupation zone were used. For this reason, the name “IRO card” is also imprecise. Unfortunately, the correct name that IRO employees used to refer to these cards is not yet known. But if this card exists for a particular person, it is likely that other documents about the same person have been preserved elsewhere in the Arolsen Archives; the IRO card was usually preserved together with the DP identity card (carte d’identité) and a registration card (fiche individuelle).

    If you have any additional information about these cards, we would appreciate it very much if you could send your feedback to eguide(at)arolsen-archives.org. New findings can always be incorporated into the e-Guide and shared with everyone.

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