International Tracing Service

Berlin Agreements

The International Tracing Service is legally based on the Berlin agreements from December 9th, 2011. The agreements in their original wording can be downloaded from the website of the German Federal Foreign Office These agreements replace the Bonn agreement on the ITS from 1955 and the amendment from 2006 which were in place until December 31, 2012.

On June 6, 1955, the governments of Belgium, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the USA signed an agreement to set up an International Commission to supervise the ITS. The Federal Republic of Germany undertook financial responsibility for the ITS.

The International Commission, now consisting of eleven member states, monitors the activities of the ITS. On foundation the ITS was given the humanitarian tasks of providing information about the fate of those persecuted by the Nazi regime and reuniting families torn apart by the war.

On May 16, 2006, the Commission decided to amend the Bonn Agreements to make the information stored in the archives also available for research purposes. The ratification process has been completed on November 28, 2007. Digital copies of the database are accessible in individual member states.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) held on behalf of the International Commission the managment of the institution from 1955 until 2012. The German Federal Archives have become an institutional partner of the ITS in January 2013. Subject to an unanimous approval, the International Commission appoints the Director of the ITS for a period of five years.

» Legal texts are available for download here.

The International Commission acts as the supreme governing body of the International Tracing Service ITS) and supervises the guidelines for the work of the International Tracing Service since 1955. The Commission is made up of government representatives from eleven member states.


ITS Funding

The Federal Republic of Germany committed itself to providing funds for the continuation of the work of the ITS. This was confirmed following German reunification and the annulment of the so-called “Deutschlandvertrag”.

In September 1990, the Foreign Ministry secretary of state wrote a note declaring that Section 7 of Article 1 of the agreement, governing questions arising from war and occupation, remains valid:

The Federal Republic of Germany undertakes to ensure that the work currently carried out by the International Tracing Service will continue.

The International Tracing Service’s regular budget is, according to the Berlin Agreement from December 9th, 2012 and on the basis of an annual budget estimate, approved by the International Commission and transmitted to the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and financed by a contribution from the budget of the Federal Republic of Germany. The financial responsibility for the ITS has been assumed by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

The Federal Court of Audit of the Federal Republic of Germany may, in coordination with the Director of the ITS, audit the accounts of the institution and examine the performance, regularity and compliance of its financial management.

In addition to the funding by the Federal Government, the ITS can receive voluntary contributions from public as well as private sources to fulfil its objectives and tasks. The ITS informs the International Commission about these contributions and their sources.


The ITS budget is part of the federal budget. Its commitment to transparency also applies to finances. The following is an overview of the 2013 budget:

  • Personnel costs: € 11,483,000
  • Running costs and materials: € 1,513,000
  • Information technology: € 593,000
  • Other investments: € 790,000

Total: € 14,379,000


Budget Estimate 2014

  • Personnel costs: € 11,965,000
  • Running costs and materials: € 1,308,000
  • Information technology: € 496,000
  • Other investments: € 124,000

Total: € 13,893,000