Diplomats’ Reports on the Persecution of Jews and the Holocaust in Europe, 1939-1945

Alfred Rosenberg spricht auf einem Empfang der Diplomatie und auswärtigen Presse in Berlin über wichtige außenpolitische Fragen, darunter seine Vorstellungen zur Lösung der „Judenfrage“, 1939, BArch, Bild 183-2006-0717-500 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons

It was and remains a main task of diplomats to provide their foreign ministers with information in regular reports on important developments in their host countries. These reports are a highly interesting source for historians since most diplomats have connections to the highest political circles and a comprehensive understanding of major societal developments in the course of their long presence in a country. The reports on the history of the Holocaust that are scattered in numerous archives around the world are a source that has yet to be systematically explored. They are of particular value for the history of the persecution of Jews and the Holocaust as most diplomats were in fact faced with the matter of issuing visas, and thus with the problems of Jewish refugees all across Europe, and were often involved with personal rescue initiatives. We need only think of the efforts taken by the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg to save Hungarian Jews in Budapest. Over the next few years, the Center, with the help of several cooperative partners in different countries, will turn to gathering and evaluating these diplomatic reports, and documenting numerous sources as part of the European EHRI Project. Particular focus will be placed on the reports of those countries that were represented with consulates and embassies in Central and Eastern Europe throughout the Second World War.

© Institut für Zeitgeschichte