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Prisoner registration form

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Konzentrationslager mit LückeHäftlingsnummerNorArt der HaftName der EhefrauVerhaftet bis politische Vorstrafen4643UnterschriftKL Musternummer Rückseite

This is a prisoner registration form, which was created by prisoner clerks for newcomers to a concentration camp. Almost all of these forms were filled out with a pencil; there are only a few exceptions that were typed. The forms are the same for all age groups, nationalities and prisoner categories, and they exist for both male and female concentration camp prisoners.

This is a prisoner registration form, which was created by prisoner clerks for newcomers to a concentration camp. Almost all of these forms were filled out with a pencil; there are only a few exceptions that were typed. The forms are the same for all age groups, nationalities and prisoner categories, and they exist for both male and female concentration camp prisoners.

Background information on concentration camp documents

Further examples

Questions and answers

  • Where was the document used and who created it?

    The prisoner registration form was one of the main documents used to manage the information about prisoners in a concentration camp. When prisoners arrived at a concentration camp, all relevant information about them was recorded on this form: their personal details, previous periods of imprisonment and the reasons for them, as well as punishments and transfers to other camps. This registration was carried out in the Political Department. In the early years it was handled by the Gestapo, which often used the interrogations as an opportunity to harass and abuse the prisoners. But the questioning was soon taken over by prisoner functionaries assigned to the arrivals detail.

    The completed A4-sized prisoner registration forms were placed in the prisoner files. Eugen Kogon, a prisoner clerk in the Buchenwald concentration camp, reported after the war that, in Buchenwald, these files were alphabetically ordered and stored in iron cabinets in the Political Department. Unlike the Prisoner Registration Cards, these forms were generally not updated when prisoners were transferred to a sub-camp or died, for example.

  • When was the document used?

    Various prisoner registration forms were used even in the “early” concentration camps in the first years of the Nazi dictatorship. This was also the usual procedure in ordinary prisons. Over time, the prisoner registration forms were standardized, and from around 1942/1943, identical forms were used in every concentration camp. Prisoner registration forms were filled out in the main camps until 1945. If a transport from one concentration camp went directly to the sub-camp of another, the forms were first sent to the sub-camp. After being filled out, they would be stored in the Political Department of the responsible main camp.

    Unlike the Prisoner Registration Cards, the color of the paper for the prisoner registration forms hardly varies, despite the long period of time in which they were used. The standardized documents were printed as blank forms in the Auschwitz camp printing office and were distributed to the various concentration camps. A document identification number was printed at the lower left edge: the abbreviation KL/ is followed by a number indicating the form template, as well as the month and year of production. The blank forms were regularly updated and assigned a new order number. Up to 500,000 copies would be printed in one run.

  • What was the document used for?

    The prisoner registration form was the first document that Gestapo officers or prisoner functionaries would fill out for new arrivals in the Political Department of a concentration camp. “The prisoner had to certify the accuracy of his statements with his signature. False statements were subject to severe penalties. Essential data from the personal record form were transferred to a file card [...]. Other documents were attached to the personal record form – protective custody warrant, a transcript of the Gestapo interrogation, and so on. Together these formed the prisoner’s personnel file” (Eugen Kogon: The Theory and Practice of Hell, translated by Heinz Norden, New York 2006 [1950], p. 63). Another purpose of the prisoner registration was, therefore, to give the Political Department as much information as possible about the newcomer’s past.

    The information collected on the prisoner registration form came from both the prisoners themselves and from their prison records. The personal details in the upper section of the form were based on the prisoner’s responses during questioning. Newcomers had to provide information about themselves and their families to the prisoner functionaries assigned to the arrivals detail. They were usually unable to answer the questions in the lower section of the prisoner registration form themselves, because they often did not know why exactly they had been sent to a concentration camp by which authority. Prisoner functionaries would instead take this information from their prison records, which would also have been sent to the concentration camp by the admitting authority.

    Prisoner registration forms were the basis of further registration procedures, which is why they were initially filled out in pencil. This made it possible for information – such as the spelling of a name – to be corrected before it was typed on a Prisoner Registration Card.

  • How common is the document?

    Prisoner registration forms were a very common document in the concentration camps until 1945. However, different numbers of forms from different camps have been preserved in the Arolsen Archives. A particularly large number of prisoner registration forms have been preserved from Dachau, for example, while there are hardly any Prisoner Registration Cards from the same camp. For other camps, such as Flossenbürg, only the cards have been archived and not the forms.

  • What should be considered when working with the document?

    Prisoner registration forms were usually filled out in pencil. This often makes them difficult to read today. A typewriter was used only in very few cases. It should also be noted that most of the forms have not been filled out completely, and the backs in particular are almost always blank. In these cases, other documents must be used to reconstruct the prisoner’s path of persecution.

    Additionally, the personal description in the middle of the prisoner registration form – which includes information about the shape of the prisoner’s face, the state of his or her teeth, and the languages he or she spoke – can often be formulated in a derogatory way. These fields may reflect stereotypical Nazi ideas about other nationalities or prisoner categories.

    The terms used to refer to these forms pose another difficulty. The terms “registration form” and “prisoner registration form” were often used by the ITS to refer to different documents. For example, the Arolsen Archives have various documents that are called registration forms, even though they were used in a different way in the camps than the prisoner registration form described here. From Buchenwald, for example, there are forms that ask specifically about a prisoner’s membership in associations such as the International Workers’ Relief Organization, and there is also a horizontally formatted A5-sized form. Both of these forms are referred to as prisoner registration forms on the ITS individual document envelopes, even if they were used for a different purpose in the concentration camp (and in some cases their actual purpose in the camp is not yet known). It is also not yet clear what another registration form from Dachau was used for. Additionally, a “questionnaire for prisoners” was used by SS doctors in the Sachsenburg, Natzweiler and Dachau concentration camps, and perhaps elsewhere. The purpose of this form was to record a prisoner’s medical history. Since the cover sheet with the note “prisoner examination form” was often missing, these documents were also incorrectly referred to as prisoner registration forms by the ITS.

    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)arolsen-archives.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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