The database project
In order to provide a fast and useful application of the comprehensive data of various Navies the records and documents stored still by and large in paper format or on microfilm need to be transferred into digital format.
Even the existence of digital data as such does not allow a systematic access, only the creation of certain models of databases will enable a common and meaningful use. The example of two databases already in use with regard to the subject area of Kriegsmarine U-boats shall demonstrate the variety of opportunities for research or simple interrogation, which supports significantly the responses to requests for information or scientific research
projects. The database Crewmembers – meanwhile some 36,000 datasets incorporated – contains besides important personal data information on ranks, circumstances of KIA, periods of combat engagement, service time on board U-boats. Certain functions for challenge and reply processes following chosen criteria allow a fast identifi-cation of a person in question despite the enormous volume of data.
Even greater in volume is the contents of the database U-boat Commanding Officers. This database can be entered through the pennant number of the U-boat, or the basic facts such as type, keel laying, launching, commissioning, shipyard of construction and whereabouts. Therefore, this database concentrates on the names of those U-boat Commanding Officers which have actually served on the U-boat in question. Starting by entering the pennant number of the U-boat one can find access to documents such as U-boat data sheets (sometimes up to 600 pages per U-boat), war diaries and photographs of Commanding Officers. However, when engaging in a first random search the database crewmembers allows such access as well, thereby enabling a systematic compilation of all relevant data with regard to a selected U-boat. This database has grown to hold information about some 750 U-boats*, including the names of Commanding Officers and their service records, all of which are linked to some 90,000 pages of documents (U-boat data sheets and war diaries). All documents can be called up indivi-dually, to be consulted in detail or even be printed out.
The further transfer of important data into digital modus will take some more time to come. Nevertheless, the advantages of such “network of data” can be experienced already at this early stage.
Status of data collection : May 2011