Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt)

History of the Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt)

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II. The National Information Office was opened in Berlin W 30, in accordance with Article 77 of the Geneva Convention of 27.07.29 dealing with the treatment of prisoners-of-war. It took up its duties on 26.08.39 as Office of the Wehrmacht High Command with the title: Wehrmacht Information Office for War Losses and POW´s (WASt)
In addition to providing information about foreign prisoners-of-war its main tasks were the registration of German Wehrmacht casualties (wounds, illness, deaths, missing in action), the processing of these cases including personal status control and official grave service.

In August 1943 the Wehrmacht Information Office was moved to Thuringia, part of it being stored in Saalfeld and part in Meiningen. After the occupation of Thuringia, from the 12.04.45 onwards, the WASt worked under the supervision of the American Military Commission.

On the 01.07.1945, immediately before Soviet troops took over in Thuringia, the Americans moved the WASt to Fürstenhagen near Kassel. At the end of January 1946 the WASt returned to Berlin and received its present name, which is a literal translation of the American designation. On the 14.06.46 the Allied Control Commission decreed that the WASt was to continue its work created by national and international commitments. At the same time the French section of the Control Commission took over the administration of the WASt.

During the early post-war years the Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt) received many comprehensive records of other military and para-military organisations.
In addition, in December 1990, it took over a large amount of records of the one-time Wehrmacht for evaluation. These records had been stored in the Military Archives Potsdam and the State Archives of the former GDR, substation Dornburg near Zerbst/Anhalt.

Owing to post-war laws the original task of the WASt has increased considerably. Because of its unique material the Information Office is approached by private individuals as well as authorities dealing with cases which concern Wehrmacht service and its effect in numerous areas.

After an Administration Agreement on 09.01.51 between the Federal Government and the “Land Berlin” the Information Office (WASt) became an Authority of the Land Berlin. It is part of the Senate Administration of Health and Social Security subordinate to the President of the Department of Health and Social Security Berlin.