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Old 05-11-2003, 02:28 PM
Richard T Eger Richard T Eger is offline
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Default Captured documents brought back to the USA

From 12 O'Clock High!:

Marko Jeras
NARA microfilm guides...
Wed Apr 9 22:56:34 2003
193.198.131.119

I have seen today NARA guides to microfilmed German records. The guide no.1 dates back to 1959. and the last one I saw, no.84, dates 1981.

My question is: is that all? No more material microfimed from 1981. till now?

Hope somebody might have an answer. Looking forward to hear from you. Thanks and all the best,

Marko

P.S. are this guides available online perhaps?
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Old 05-11-2003, 02:29 PM
Richard T Eger Richard T Eger is offline
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From TOCH!:

Richard T. Eger
NARA Microfilm Guides & catalogs in general
Thu Apr 10 05:11:08 2003
162.33.247.185

Dear Marko,

I'm assuming what you are refering to are the extensive guides prepared of captured German documentation from WW II. These are quite voluminous and I seriously doubt that they have been put on-line. Whether NARA finally finished creating them in 1981 or simply ran out of money and/or interest, I can't say.

Microfilming of the main body of documents was completed and the documents returned to Germany by the early 60's, but cataloging had to play catch-up. Thus, cataloging could have continued until 1981.

Some time back we had several discussions (I was the instigator!!) of "missing" records "lost" in various archives, simply having fallen in the crack with no program to follow up on getting them cataloged or, at best, a minimal program, possibly utilizing volunteers, as at the NASM's Garber archives.

The official guides, though, I am pretty sure pertain to the program initiated at the end of WW II to microfilm the vast amount of material brought back from Europe. Most of the microfilming was done in the old torpedo factory in Alexandria, VA, which now houses an excellent artists center. It was a rather odd conglomeration of government and private resources who pushed strongly to have this done and, if it weren't for their efforts, sometimes seeming to be viewed as of the lowest priority to the non-academic world, we wouldn't have the excellent records we have today. Interestingly, as the Korean War broke out, support for the program had reached a rather low ebb, but all of a sudden the military thought there might be something useful in aiding the war effort in those old German records, so more resources were made available. And, in the early to mid-fifties, the German government was pushing for the return of their materials. The archivists recognized that they faced a time-line and worked furiously to microfilm as much as possible, but still had to make some hard choices as to what to skip and what to microfilm. As I said, by the early 60's, IIRC, most of the material had been returned to Germany and, as I said, the microfilming got ahead of the cataloging.

Material was coming in from different sources and it didn't all funnel through Alexandria. For instance, the Air Force retained the air technical material, which was independently microfilmed, mostly at Wright Field. This is cataloged in the "Desk Catalog of Captured German and Japanese Air Technical Documents". Some of it was classified. It's home stayed within the military until about the 70's, at which point it was offered to and gratefully accepted by the NASM. Ironically, the multi-volume catalog itself was available at various universites before the microfilms were released to the NASM. Thus, a few hardy souls investigated what was in this treasure trove of technical material, but had to await the day that the material actually became available.

An oddity that I can't explain is that the Library of Congress obtained access to many of these microfilmed documents long before the official set being held by the military was released for public viewing. And, it wasn't just a microfilm of another copy, but the very same microfilming, as can be seen by the same reel and frame numbers.

Various university libraries and military offices/archives probably got unique collections of their own which likely didn't fall into either of the two major catalogings that I have mentioned. "Stuff" is just there, waiting to be discovered. And, "stuff" moves. For instance, I recently discovered that part of the Wright/McCook Field Photo Collection of over 200,000 photos resides only partly cataloged at NASM Garber. Still to surface are all the translations of captured German air technical reports and all the evaluation reports of captured German air technical equipment.

But, getting back to catalogs and their usefulness to researchers, cataloging is only as good as the cataloger and the degree of detail of the cataloging. Thus, a group of very interesting documents can be "hidden in plain sight" with a vanilla general description, only to be uncovered by literally going into the box and looking at each document one at a time. For instance, NARA II has a very nice collection of CIOS reports on a wealth of subjects. CIOS was the key scientific investigative organization sent to Europe to summarize German industry and military subjects. The reports are fairly comprehensive, but, from what I can tell, don't go in much for counting airplanes or recording Werknummers. But, I digress. The way these are cataloged is that they will be listed as a box range. Even when you get the boxes, each will say something like CIOS reports XXI-52 to XXII-3. If you don't know what they are, you simply have to look.

Another problem with catalogers is that they may not be cognizant of what they are cataloging, so you get a best try effort that may miss the mark broadly. Or, they may look at the first page of the "document", flip through a few pages, translate the title, and make a stab at what lies within. What they may not realize is that there may be several actual documents and that they have only summarized the first, leaving the balance uncataloged.

That said, what these catalogs probably do is present a very detailed summary, but not a page by page assessment, especially when you have a stack of reports running only a page or two in length and are trying to catalog them as a group. Thus, in going through one reel on Rechlin last fall, I ran across an excellent 1-page Umbau listing, providing a beautiful example of what Umbau really was all about. I sincerely doubt that that one page was mentioned in the catalogs in question.

Sorry, I got carried away...

Regards,
Richard
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Old 05-11-2003, 02:29 PM
Richard T Eger Richard T Eger is offline
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From TOCH!:

Marko Jeras
Wow!
Thu Apr 10 06:43:04 2003
193.198.128.132

Dear Richard,

thank you very much for very comprehensive and excellent answer. I understand now that there is much more material that was microfilmed, but not yet 'catalogized' in guides.

I would like to send you an email off-board, if you agree.

Best regards,

Marko
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Old 05-11-2003, 02:32 PM
Richard T Eger Richard T Eger is offline
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I was subsequently corrected in that the NARA guides are continuing to be issued. For the rest of the thread on this subject, the reader is referred to the "Archives in the USA" forum, the "NARA guides to microfilmed captured German records" topic.

Regards,
Richard
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