“Unknown Dead”: Unsettling Finds from the Archive of the International Tracing Service
The death marches during the final months of World War II from concentration and extermination camps to the concentration camps on German and Austrian soil — such as to Buchenwald, Dachau, Flossenbürg, and Mauthausen — have only just begun to draw scholarly attention and interest in the past five to ten years. The appearance of analytical successors to the eminent Prof. Yehuda Bauer’s first study on the death marches, published in 1983, has taken a long time in coming. Because this topic was integrated into historiography so late, many questions and gaps in the research still remain open. The documents presented in this paper both reflect the concentration camps’ administration up to the final days of the Nazi camp complex and the cynical contempt for human beings ingrained in the apparatus of registration and control. It is not yet possible to provide a comprehensive historical classification and analysis of these documents. Rather, what research requires is an array of different approaches in order to comprehend and present the documents in their deep structure, which is challenging to grasp.