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Personal effects storage room questionnaire

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In Blockschrift auszufüllenVorb.H bis AusweisungshäftlingHäftlingsnummerBlockFrau Berta A., NürnbergEinlieferungsbehördeIn Haft vom/In SchutzhaftWo befindet sich die Invalidenkarte

This is a personal effects storage room questionnaire from Buchenwald concentration camp. Similar questionnaires were also used in other camps. They looked different but served the same purpose.

This is a personal effects storage room questionnaire from Buchenwald concentration camp. Similar questionnaires were also used in other camps. They looked different but served the same purpose.

Background information on concentration camp documents

Questions and answers

  • Where was the document used and who created it?

    This short questionnaire from the personal effects storage room was used in the main camps. It was one of the first documents that had to be filled out for prisoners when they arrived at a concentration camp. Prisoner functionaries working in the personal effects storage rooms of the concentration camps would help fill out these questionnaires and then file them. There was no standardized form for this questionnaire that applied to all concentration camps. In Buchenwald, for example, duplicating paper was used to make multiple copies of the form for the camp.

  • When was the document used?

    Various versions of the personal effects storage room questionnaire have been preserved from various phases of the concentration camps. There was no standardized form used in all concentration camps. Most of the questionnaires were continually updated in the personal effects storage room; if a prisoner was transferred or died, for example, this was often noted on the form. The forms were used in the camps until the liberation in 1945.

  • What was the document used for?

    The personal effects storage room (Effektenkammer) – known as the Hausvaterei (“housefather’s room”) in jails and prisons – was used to store the prisoners’ personal possessions (effects). A personal effects card was filled out for this which listed the precise items of clothing and valuables that the prisoners had handed over. The prisoners’ personal details were also noted on a questionnaire in the personal effects storage room when the prisoners arrived. These personal effects storage room questionnaires had to be filled out for all prisoners, even those who were not German.

    In addition to asking for the prisoner’s home address and information about any prior imprisonment, the forms requested information about insurance. As part of the prisoner property administration office, the personal effects storage room also arranged for the ongoing payment of social security contributions, and it clarified insurance claim issues for German prisoners. If a prisoner was unable to pay his outstanding contributions because he was imprisoned, and if these payments could not be covered by his family members, then the welfare office in his place of residence, the welfare association for the district in which the concentration camp was located, or the concentration camp itself could make up the difference. For this to be possible, the prisoner and his family members had to submit an application to the personal effects storage room and present a certificate of indigence.

    This regulation only applied to German prisoners who were imprisoned for longer than nine months. It was introduced after a law was passed in December 1937 stating that insurance claims would expire unless all contributions had been paid regularly. Since 1934, statutory payments had been required for the disability insurance, employees’ insurance and miners’ pension insurance for prisoners in “protective custody.” These payments were supposed to prevent additional costs arising for the German state after the prisoners were released. State benefit payments such as widow’s or orphan’s pensions were also supposed to be avoided. If a prisoner did not survive their imprisonment in a concentration camp, insurance was supposed to be paid to ensure the family’s financial security. To handle the coverage of insurance contributions, the personal effects storage room questionnaires from Flossenbürg concentration camp, for example, asked very precise questions about certificates and insurance card receipts, which were stored with the prisoner’s personal effects. The questionnaires from Buchenwald also asked about disability and work cards.

    The personal effects storage room questionnaire served another very practical purpose as well. According to instructions for the prisoner registry office at Buchenwald from 1941, which have been preserved in the ITS archive, the questionnaire was also used to coordinate with the registry office. The information that prisoners provided on their arrivals form was compared with the information on the personal effects storage room questionnaire. Only when the details on these two forms were consistent would the information be transferred to other cards. If the information was not consistent, the prisoner would be called in for questioning.

  • How common is the document?

    Although a personal effects storage room questionnaire was supposed to be filled out for all newcomers, there are far fewer examples of the questionnaire in the individual document envelopes for prisoners in the ITS archive. However, there are larger collections of personal effects storage room questionnaires from the Gross-Rosen and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. According to a list from 1954, the ITS had – as an approximation of the number of preserved documents – 1,526 personal effects storage room questionnaires from Gross-Rosen at the time.

  • What should be considered when working with the document?

    The ITS archive holds a variety of questionnaires relating to insurance claims by concentration camp prisoners. In many cases, however, it is not clear whether these documents are also personal effects storage room questionnaires, or whether they were filled out for other administrative departments in the concentration camp. This applies to another form from Buchenwald concentration camp, as well as to a form with a total of 22 questions which had to be filled out for the prisoner property administration office of Buchenwald. A prisoner registration form from Dachau also asks about insurance contributions. Most of these forms were probably filled out for the personal effects storage room, but this cannot be stated with any certainty based on the current state of research.

    If you have any additional information about this document or any other documents described in the e-Guide, we would appreciate it very much if you could send your feedback to eguide(at)its-arolsen.org. The document descriptions are updated regularly – and the best way for us to do this is by incorporating the knowledge you share with us.

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