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Military government weekly information bulletin
No. 41 (May 1946)

[Highlights of policy],   pp. 5-12 PDF (4.0 MB)

Page 6

tioning directly under US military super-
vision - specifically, under the Armed
Forces Division, OMGUS   by virtue of
authorization from  the Allied Control
Authority (ACA). Three American offi-
cers are in charge of over 650 German
civilian clerical personnel (mostly wo--
men) who are engaged in the gigantic
task of mailing out over 1,000,000 death
notices to next of kin of deceased for-
mer Wehrmacht personnel and of register-
ing the deaths with the local German
registry 'offices. Both British annd French
liaison Qffieers are assigned to assist in
extracting information for their respec-
tive governments. Although dispatching
of death notices is at present the only
task which the ACA has permitted the
agency to perform, it is a staggering one.
The present organization works very
differently from its German predecessor.
The Germans sent out about 8,000 death
notices monthly,; white today an average
'of over 9,000 daily are dispatched. A
target date of 1 June 1946 has been set
for the completion of the mission, and,
the fiuture 'of the agency beyond that date
has not yet been determined.
Two.- reasons are suggested for the dis-
parity in, speed 'of operation. First, the
Germans employed a, very cumbersome
system 'of casualty recording and notifi-
cation which involved an inordinate
anount of "red tape." Secondly, there
was probably a deliberate attempt to
conceal casualty figures from the public,
and the number of death notifications ac-
tually sent was intentionally kept small.
This assumption is fortified by the fact
that from 1941 through 1943, thousands
of death notices were not dispatched,
though iasualty records were kept.
At the time 'of capture, over 20,000
death. notifications, completely stamped
and ready to be mailed, were awaiting
dispatch. They represented about two
and one-half month's preparatory work,
and the break-down of mail service re-
suiting from the deterioration of the Ger-
man military position had made it im-
possible to mail them. But veven so, the
casualty  records   of  the   agency
throughout the time it was operated by
the Germans were never kept up to date.
The officers in charge showed a complete
lack of interest and never made personal
inspections to see how, or even- whether,
it was functioning.
Originally established in Berlin in 1939
as part of the German Central Admini-
station Office of the Welhrmacht, it was
the counterpart of our own Adjutant
General Casualty Records Section. Four
years later in 1943, doubtless as a result
of the stepped-up bombing campaign
against Berlin, it was moved to Saalfeld,
in Thuringia, where it was captured. In
addition to the main headquarters in
Saalfeld, a small sub - section was
established at Meiningen, also in Thurin-
gia. The Meiningen section handled only
graves registrations and records of Allied
prisoners of war in German hands.
The main work of the organization
consisted of compiling statistics on all
German Armied Forces casualties (except
Naval) and dispatching death certificates
to the registry offices of the last resi-
denoe 'of the deceased; keeping records
on hospitalization of German Armed For-
ces personnel (except Naval); recording
data on all German Armed Forces per-
sonnel captured by Allied armies except
the Soviet; keeping records on graves
registrations of all Allied and German
personnel buried by German agencies;
receiving and forwarding personal effects
'of allH Allied and German dead and
administering last wills and testaments;
keeping extensive card indexes of all
personnel in the German Armed Forces
who had been killed, wounded, captured,
missing-lor hospitalized; maintaining data
on identification numbers, full name, date
and place of birth, home address and
next of kin; and finally, recording infor-
nation on all Allied prisoners of war in
German hands. Information concerning

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