I have 2 World War I "dog tags", one each from two different soldiers, which provides name, DOB and some regimental info. One of them I think may include some address information. Is there any way I can research these individuals? Ultimately, if they've any living relatives, I would like to return these tags to them. Any ideas?

  • Welcome to G&FH SE! That sounds like a highly commendable outcome that may come of your research. This earlier answer may be of some help while you await an answer to your question.
    – PolyGeo
    Dec 10, 2014 at 3:21
  • For 20th Century questions we need to be careful not to include details that might identify potentially living individuals. However, in this case, the DOBs you have should mean there is no doubt that they are born before 1914 so our discussions at meta.genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/1900/… may be of interest but should not prevent you including more of their details if you wish to. There is an edit button beneath your question to enable you to revise it at any time.
    – PolyGeo
    Dec 10, 2014 at 3:29
  • 2
    I've shared the link to this question with the author of the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog, who has a regular feature on Returning Soldiers' Items. See the page Soldiers' Items Found for instructions on how to contact her directly and send a photo or a scan of the tags. And welcome! Glad you could join us.
    – Jan Murphy
    Dec 10, 2014 at 3:34

1 Answer 1


I would contact Volksbund, an organization that takes care of German war graves, and Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt), a federal organization maintaining records on servicemen, and ask if it helps to return these tags to them (especially WASt) and provide as much details on the provenance of these tags as possible. They might answer requests based on these information somewhen in the future. Please see their site Erkennungsmarkenverzeichnis/Verlustunterlagen, they write:

Sämtliche der WASt zugehenden Erkennungsmarken werden nach erfolgter Registrierung zwecks eventuell späterer Herausgabe an die Angehörigen gesondert im Ref. II B aufbewahrt. (All dog tags given to the WASt are registered and stored for a possible return to family members)

You should also take good quality photos of these items and put them permanently online (e.g. Flickr) with a transcription to help public research. Privacy is not an issue here, given that the soldiers where born in the 19th century.

What I would not do (I am not assuming that this is an option for you, but want to mention it anyway): Please don't make them commercially available, as this market fuels illegal grave digging, the destruction of grave sites and often destroys the last chance of giving a dead body a name.

Please check my answer on How to find information on German soldiers from World War I and World War II? on the (limited) research possibilities regarding German participants of World War I.

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