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I have heard the following line in the TV series Dark:

Kontaktieren die Zentrale von der Vermisstenstelle.

Literally, "Vermisstenstelle" means "missed positions". I assume that it means the "missing people"? Is there a reason why it uses "Stelle"? What positions does the noun refer to?

  • Is it an excerpt of the line, did the line really begin like that or is it supposed to be an infinitive group? If an infinitve group, it ought to be Die Zentrale (von(?)) der Vermisstenstelle kontaktieren. – amadeusamadeus Aug 21 at 22:27
  • @amadeusamadeus it is the exact line said in the TV series. It's an order given by the head investigator to other police officers. – Alan Evangelista Aug 24 at 15:32
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When interpreting transparent compounds like this, you have to find the correct meanings of the constituent parts first.

Stelle is used as DWDS 5. Amt, Behörde.

The noun Vermisst- (from the adjective, which in turn derives from the verb) follows the general semantics of nouns derived from adjectives: On its own, in the masculine and feminine singular as well as in the plural, it refers to a person or group of persons.

Vermisstenstelle therefore translates as missing persons bureau.

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I want to add that Vermisstenstelle is no ad-hoc word creation by the series' authors. For example, the BKA, the German federal police, is operating a Vermisstenstelle which is responsible for:

  • the tracing of missed people
  • the identification of unknown corpses
  • the identification of unknown, stranded people

Maybe the Suchdienst of the German Red Cross is also relevant (I haven't seen the newer episodes yet.):
After the Second World War millions of people didn't know about their relatives - often over many years. Many women ignored, whether their husbands had died far from home or were still alive in some Siberian camp for forced labor. Some had even founded a new family somewhere else. The refugee trecks had also torn apart many families. Brothers and sisters might have ended up in different occupation zones knowing nothing about the others. As long as the fate of their relatives remained unresolved, people couldn't claim widow's pensions, remarry or otherwise restart a normal life. Thus, a Vermisstenstelle might still evoke strong images in Germany.

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