NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by Abicht » Sun May 04, 2008 6:12 pm

Sean-

I am sure there are folks who have looked for these photos in the past but so far I have only found a few in the area during the battle. I am sure they would have been published if anyone did located them I guess. I just located one single photo taken north of Belgorod near the town of Yakolevo. The date is not clear but it was take at 5:37am (fairly bright so during late June or early July I guess) and the photo was heavily annotated showing PAK, Artillery, and mortar positions, as well as at least 150 Soviet tanks and other vehicles. The armor is heading south. I am working on the date for this photo and trying to find the rest of the photos for this sortie. It is very interesting to see nearly a full division (I am guessing) of armor heading south!
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Sean Oliver
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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by Sean Oliver » Tue May 06, 2008 1:25 pm

Abicht -

That photo sounds like it was probably taken before the July 12/Prokhorovka fight - but I couldn't say with certainty unless I saw the photo.

Please continue searching around the archives - are you looking among LW records? I will start ordering DVDs of mostly Corps-level German Heer/Waffen-SS records; many contain aerial photos among the 'Anlagen' sections. (Corps records seem to be the most complete and also contain a fairly good level of tactical detail which might be missing from Army+ level records. Divisional records (T-315) are often incomplete with years missing. I was dismayed to discover for example, that Grossdeutschland's divisional records are non-exsistent after 1942 - according to the NARA finding guides anyway.)

I think the whole subject of aerial recon photos of famous WW II battles is fascinating; but it's odd that nobody in 60 years has attempted to "market" these pictures commercially, or even attempted to generate public interest in them. It seems every single land-based photo from WW II has been published, re-published, and published yet again, with no apparent end in sight, selling thousands of expensive books every year, yet there has only been one book that I've seen that tells the story of a battle through aerial photos: Ian Baxter's Operation Goodwood. It's a really great book idea, especially when presented with maps and land photos taken simultaneously.

I'm basically interested in WW II through wargaming. I'm obsessed with detail and accuracy in the games I play, but most books don't provide the level of detail needed to accurately assess exactly what happened on a battlefield at a given moment, and at a specific location. Most 'standard' military history books are written using Army/Army Group level diaries and records, which are almost like secondary sources compared to the records and maps of the smaller frontline units. The units at the front were the most important part of the battle! Air photos which could pinpoint the locations of virtually every trench, tank and PAK would provide irrefutable evidence of terrain, positions, effects of fire and artillery, tactics, tempo of battle, etc which the written words of an Army Group KTB can't necessarily convey in detail.

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by Abicht » Tue May 06, 2008 5:44 pm

Sean- As a "professional" imagery analyst I can say these photos are a historical gold mine that 95% of authors ignore due to not understanding them, the records, or the analysis (art and science mixed). I have found many photos of key areas and battle areas that several big name authors in their book never thought to include, look for, or cared about. Budapest... Leningrad.. Chlom... Kerch... Warsaw..ect.

The main reason they have not been marketed is the badly cataloged and organized nature they in which they are held at at NARA. There are well over 1.2 million of them and to scan in one 12 inch by 12 inch print at a high resolution can take 10 minutes each. Most sorties included 40-100 images each. It would taqke more than a life time just to go through them all let alone scan them. (TARA is working on that though).

I currently am providing only 1 author with photos for their book regarding Breslau.

Ian's book is great but the eastern front is untouched...hence the book I am working on now with the best photos and operations. They include North Africa... Budapest...Belgrade...Minsk... Kharkov...Chlom...Warsaw...and special operations against Soviet industries, railways...dams... and more. Now I just need a publisher!
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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by Regiment Norge » Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:19 pm

Hi!

The NARA "Guides to captured and related german documents" as PDF-files can be downloaded at www.sturmpanzer.com I think it is about 91 Guides available.

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:58 pm

Is there any way of cross-referencing from BA-MA files to NARA files? I know my way around BA-MA quite well... but not around NARA.

So for example, RH28-1/1 are 1 Geb Division papers from the Polish campaign (war diary from memory). Any idea what the corresponding NARA file might be?

Wouldn't it be simpler if both archives catalogued everything in the same way... Ach so. :[]
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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by GaryD » Tue Sep 23, 2008 12:34 am

Richard Hargreaves wrote:Is there any way of cross-referencing from BA-MA files to NARA files? I know my way around BA-MA quite well... but not around NARA.

So for example, RH28-1/1 are 1 Geb Division papers from the Polish campaign (war diary from memory). Any idea what the corresponding NARA file might be?

Wouldn't it be simpler if both archives catalogued everything in the same way... Ach so. :[]
Richard,

As far as I know there is no correspondence. BA-MA may know that a particular document was received from the U.S., so you could assume that it was microfilmed and is still at NARA, but then again, not everything was microfilmed by the U.S. :(

There's one other thing. At NARA besides the numbers for record group, microcopy, roll, and frame (such as RG242 T315 R1086 F501), there are "item numbers" such as 24210, further subdivided with a slash, as in 24210/1, 24210/2 and so on. These numbers are "the abbreviation of the staff section that originated the document." Each item represents a group of documents, in this case 24210 is 6th Infantry Division's KTB #5 and its various attachments. I don't know if the item numbers are from the Germans or not. If they are, and the BA-MA kept them too, then that might be a way to cross-check. Or would be if there was a master list of them!

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Tue Sep 23, 2008 4:27 am

Thanks Gary. Blimey the NARA filing system looks particularly daunting. :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

BA-MA's is fairly easy to work through. Do not, however, use the online Findbuecher - they're far from complete. The bound volumes in the BA-MA reading room are much much easier to use and far more comprehensive (although some appear to be missing :()
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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by Regiment Norge » Fri Nov 28, 2008 2:14 am

I have been viewing two CDs with SS-Personalakten, one CD was scanned in 200 dpi and the other in 300 dpi resolution.

If you only need copy of the text-pages the 200 dpi resolution is good enough but when it comes to images found in the SS-PA files the 200 dpi is not good enough. A photo needs 300 dpi, then you can crop the images through i.e. photoshop and print them out in good resolution. It the images are damaged or needs serious photoshop improval the 300 dpi unfortunately is not good enough either.

The last time I ordered copies of photos attached to SS-PA from BDC or now Bundesarchive this job costed a h... of a lot of money, since the BA now uses a private photographer in Berlin to do the job, and he shall also make money on the job. Thats why this CD/DVD from NARA is so interesting. I guess also that most of us are interested in the photofiles in the SS-PA.

Before I had to view the microfilms at the library and there also print copies of the wanted SS-PA, now we can import the images onto our mac/PC and then rename the files and they are also filed and saved onto your individual mac/PC.

I personally think this new CD/DVD project from NARA are much welcomed by its users and that they are moving forward in step with the technology.

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Regiment Norge

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by GaryD » Fri Nov 28, 2008 4:00 am

What we need to do is establish a system to share the DVDs that we buy. This material isn't copyrighted so it should be legal. I think it's ridiculous that NARA charges the same price for DVDs as it does for microfilm.

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by richard hedrick » Fri Nov 28, 2008 4:36 am

Gary,

I would second the idea of a system for sharing the data but is suspect developing a working model of such a system will present a challenge.

With regard to DVD duplication i believe that NARA does not duplicate DVDs but goes back to the original microfilm each time and rescans to DVD so creating the DVD copies is still a laborious process.

Richard

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by GaryD » Fri Nov 28, 2008 4:44 am

richard hedrick wrote:With regard to DVD duplication i believe that NARA does not duplicate DVDs but goes back to the original microfilm each time and rescans to DVD so creating the DVD copies is still a laborious process.
Are they really that stupid???

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by Tom Houlihan » Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:01 am

richard hedrick wrote:I would second the idea of a system for sharing the data but is suspect developing a working model of such a system will present a challenge.
Richard, suddenly that hare-brained idea I had a while back seems a little (okay a tiny bit) more sensible!

Who's the millionaire out there that wants to bankroll the scheme? I had an idea, but not the time, money, and business sense to implement it.
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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by GaryD » Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:43 am

Tom Houlihan wrote:Who's the millionaire out there that wants to bankroll the scheme? I had an idea, but not the time, money, and business sense to implement it.
I think that simply a database of who is willing to share and what do they have would be a good start.

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by richard hedrick » Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:47 am

Tom, it was and still is a good and worthy idea but as we had concluded the sheer volume of rolls makes it only a viable business for NARA themselves as they have access to all the rolls. Maybe a trading/consignment model can be made to work.

Gary, I have given their process some thought and can only come to the conclusion that they are still microfilm driven. What I mean is that if you go to NARA in their viewing room you get microfilm you don’t get DVDs(I assume this is still the case), so they are still in the mode of using microfilm as their master copies. At some point they will come to the collusion that digital media is the way to go and they will start what will be a slow process to convert to using digital media as their master copies. When this occurs duplication will come from DVDs and not microfilm, who knows they may even lower their prices.

I have found the folks at NARA, microfilm ordering and reproduction specifically, to be very knowledgeable and helpful; we must remember that this is a government operation and change is slow to come and new ideas take time to develop fully.

I am a big fan of the DVDs, even at $65, as this saves me from having to digitize them myself (and the quality is also better) but I would be an even bigger fan at a lower price.

Richard

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Re: NARA Records Now Available on DVD Media

Post by GaryD » Fri Nov 28, 2008 8:05 am

I was in the microfilm room in October and yes, they're still using microfilm. I wasn't really expecting them to digitize all of their collection in one fell swoop, but I hope that when they get an order for a roll they make TWO copies and keep one to make copies from in the future. I'm sure some rolls are more popular than others, like the SS ones, the ones which concern Stalingrad or Kursk, etc. But you may be right, logic doesn't always rule in a large organization. They have a couple of brand-new microfilm reader-printers. They're not in use yet, but I was told that while these new machines can also SCAN, that function has been disabled and the price is still a whopping 50 cents per copy.

I just photograph the frames I want.

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