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Collection Guide: Displaced Person Camps

Types of Documents Available

Most of the files regarding DPs themselves were transferred to the International Refugee Organization (IRO) in 1947 and should be with the IRO archives in the French National Archives, with some possibly with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva (which took over from IRO).

The DP records mostly revolve around the management of the camps with personal information scattered here and there. Sometimes there are lists of individual DPs for a specific period of time for a particular camp. These sometimes include place of birth and age, but frequently just names. If a persons' name is on the camp list, there is often no other identifiable information, so it may not be enough to confirm that it is a particular person and not someone with the exact same name.

Individual or groups of DPs are also mentioned in various correspondence and memoranda for specific camps but frequently there is only statistical information. If something happened which led to an investigation, names could be mentioned in reports. There are no birth certificates or any other personal documents of DPs.

Lastly, there is a relatively small number of IRO case files which were transferred to the French National Archives from the Washington D.C. office for DPs who were trying to immigrate to the U.S from 1945-1952. These were supposed to be discarded but ended up being kept, and the French National Archives are currently in the process of trying to compile a list of names these belong to.

Finding aids for the IRO collection at the French National Archives

Part one

Part two

Contact Information

Postal address :

Archives nationales
59, rue Guynemer
93383 Pierrefitte-sur-Seine cedex
Hotline : +33 (0) 1 75 47 20 02
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United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Case Postale 2500
CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt
Phone: +41 22 739 8111 (automatic switchboard)
Working hours are Monday to Friday, 8:00 to 17:00 GMT