German WW I Casuality Lists

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German WW I Casuality Lists

The Source

The German casualty lists for the Great War have been published between 1914 and 1919. They include the official notifications from the Prussian government on the military losses of the entire armed forces of the German Empire. The lists were written in chronological order and sorted by armies, regiments, units, etc.

Each entry in the list contains information about woundings, MIA, captures, deaths, as well as corrections to previous messages. In total there are 31,200 pages in Tabloid Extra format (305 x 455 mm) written in Gothic script. One page contains between 200 and 300 individual entries. Until 1916 the entries were sorted by military unit - except for the lists of the marine in which the entries are sorted by lastname. Organizing principle for the specification of the units was the official ranking of the military branches. Usually this information can be found in an entry: military unit, family name, first name, rank, place of birth, type of loss.

The structure changed on 7th December 1916: All entries were sorted alphabetically. No more information about military units was given. To ease the identification of persons, the date of birth was added to the entries. Starting in summer 1917 the year of birth was kept secret. After the end of the war the casualty lists contained information military units again. The full date of birth was specified, too. Therefore, an entry consists of this information: military unit, family name, first name, rank, date of birth, place of birth.

Why is it an Important Source?

On 14th April 1945 the Prussian army archive was destroyed in an air raid on Potsdam after only a few weeks earlier - in February 1945 - the Zentralnachweiseamt für Kriegerverluste und Kriegsgräber (central office for war losses and war graves) had been bombed. Today, it is therefore difficult to investigate information about veterans of the 1st World War—if not even impossible. This is why the casualty lists are among the most important surviving sources about German soldiers of the 1st World War.

Page 1 from the WW I Casuality Lists

The Indexing Project

Since the end of 2011 the Verein für Computergenealogie owns a full copy of scans of the casualty list. In a crowdsourcing project the casualty lists are beeing indexed completely for the first time. Scans and the indexed data is availably online for free. See the next poster for more information about the indexing project.

Webbased solution

For volunteers working offline a complex management would be necessary to track who is working on which page. Transporting the huge amount of data (93GB in JPEG format) to the users by DVD is not practical. A webbased solution makes it easy to replace faulty scans. Entries are sent to the server immediatly after the contributor has entered them. Assistence can be given quickly by the project supervisors if a volunteer does not follow the editorial guidelines. In a traditional offline data entry such systematic errors are only recognized after hundreds or even thousands of entries have been transcribed wrong.

Work "onthescan"

As the entries can be seen directly on the scan, it can easily be verified that each entry of the source has been transcribed. For each entry, its position on the page is recorded automatically. This makes it possible to add further information by editing entire regions (rectangles) of the page. During the later search a user can be led directly to the corresponding position on the page - an enormous help for the large, threecolumn pages.

Search during entry

Voluntary transcribers want to see "their" data available online quickly. Visitors that have been attracted via the search might become actively contributing volunteers. In the display of results, a possibility is offered to mark a typo. These typo reports are submitted to the project supervisors for reconsideration as a permanent quality control.

Acquisition of "area data"

In parallel with the transcription by the volunteers, the socalled acquisition of "area data" is performed. In this process, information is assigned to larger rectangular regions of a scanned page. Since in the casualty list entries of a regiment and other units are printed en bloc, one can conveniently draw a frame around these entries. With this one working step one can assign the name of the unity to all entries within this block.

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