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According to Hanns and Rudolf by Thomas Harding near the end of WW2 the allies created a large database ... known as CROWCASS, of war criminals which they intended to target once victory was achieved.

Rudolf Hoess was listed with his name spelt slightly wrong, and his age and other details slightly off. However the list did identify him correctly as commandant at Auschwitz.

How easy would it have been for allied agents in in Berlin to obtain this kind of information? Were Nazi "H.R." type records within allied reach - via spies - during the war? Presumably Auschwitz was a fairly secret project and you couldn't just thumb a public directory or follow the news in order to learn the personal details of Auschwitz's commandant.

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2 Answers 2

There was lots of spying and surveillance being done by the military, producing copious amounts of often quite mundane data that was then analyzed for its military usefulness. All it took was to make it someone's job to look through that same data for evidence of war crimes.

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For example, Ultra –  American Luke May 25 at 19:51

CROWCASS was initiated after the war was essentially won and the Allies had the resources of Germany and everyone in it at their disposal. They had hundreds of thousands of people in prisons and camps and gigantic interrogation teams. German officers and leaders were interned in special prisons and subjected to round the clock interrogation. Many German files, archives and records had been captured and were used to systematically identify Germans who had been in units associated with war crimes.

The British, in particular, have a long history of assembling intelligence files on people and organizations and throughout the war made comprehensive efforts to profile and itemize individual members of the Nazi organizations that they considered in any way significant. It was actually the British who mainly created, operated and developed CROWCASS. The director in charge of the CROWCASS effort was a British spy named Lieutenant Colonel Richard Frederick Luck.

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Additionally, prior to the closure of embassies at the onset of WW2, the British and others would have compiled a lot of information on the Nazi party rank and file; if for no other reason than information hoarding. –  LateralFractal yesterday

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