International Tracing Service

[12-23-2010]  

Giora Zwilling, head of the department which prepares the Yad Vashem Memorial´s holdings for digitization, spent three days in December 2010 at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen learning about the work being done there. “It was extraordinary to gain an understanding of the considerable tasks and topics which the ITS handles,” said Zwilling after his visit. “I now have a clear picture and will be able to use much of this experience in the future.”

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[12-14-2010]  

“The Story of a Memorial”, a new book by Salomon Hauser and Jacques Offen, recounts the story of 97 youths from Antwerp who were active in the Zionist youth movement Bnei Akiva before the outbreak of the Second World War. Most of the youths were murdered in the concentration and death camp Auschwitz. “We are giving the victims a name, a face and a biography with our book,” explains Offen. “The personal stories have especially touched us and have exposed the dimensions of the Shoah.” The book took Hauser and Offen four years to finish.

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[12-03-2010]  

Director Jean-Luc Blondel had the chance of congratulating in all eight employees of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen on their long years of service yesterday. Together with Fred Kolander, chief representative of staff, he handed bouquets of flowers and presents to the jubilarians. “Together, you have gathered 230 years of experience in the most various fields of activities”, said Blondel. “I extend to you my sincere thanks for the important, most varied work you have done. Many people have profited and do profit by your performance.”

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[11-22-2010]  

In mid-November, a group of pupils from the “Filchner” comprehensive school at Wolfhagen began working on a project titled “The Terror System of National Socialism – the Fates of the Victims” at the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS). The history workshop that 16 pupils attending the 10th and 11th forms took part in analyses above all the biographies of persecuted persons coming from the surroundings of North Hessian Wolfhagen. “You have another, a more direct and immediate approach to the subject if people from the surroundings you are familiar with are concerned. After all, we do live here and so the remote subject, all of a sudden, turns into a present-day topic”, says 17-year-old pupil Paula Schröder.

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[11-16-2010]  

The historian and author Stefan Klemp presented his book titled “KZ-Arzt Aribert Heim – Die Geschichte einer Fahndung” (Concentration Camp Surgeon Aribert Heim – Chronology of a Search) to the Berlin public last Friday. In his publication, Klemp gives details on the search for the former concentration camp surgeon who kept escaping arrest successfully and whose alleged death in the early 1990s has not been verified to this day. Gathering evidence for his book, Klemp also sifted through the documentation of the International Tracing Service (ITS) at Bad Arolsen. The ITS archive keeps a copy of the operations’ record from Concentration Camp Mauthausen signed by Heim in his own hand. This record is the most important authentic source in the cause of Aribert Heim.

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[11-10-2010]  

Five representatives of the Institute for Missing Persons (MPI) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Sarajevo paid a two-day visit to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. Looking over its staffs’ shoulders, they got a general idea of the work done at the ITS. In the centre of their special interest, however, was the Central Name Index compiled to be the key to the documentation gathered on the persecution under Nazi reign. “Its structure may act as a model for us“, MPI Director Amor Masovic has discovered.

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[11-05-2010]  

Early in November 2010, Ekkehard Hübschmann investigated the fates of 15 Jews from Franconia in the archive of the International Tracing Service (ITS). “I could discover new facts for about half of the people largely drawing them from the documents on displaced persons’ camps”, Hübschmann is happy to report. The freelance historian has been involving himself with Jewish history in Franconia for more than 20 years.

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[10-29-2010]  

Eight pupils of the “Christian Rauch” secondary school at Bad Arolsen have spent a project week at the International Tracing Service (ITS). Their main topic was the “Organisation of the Holocaust”. The concrete subjects they attended to were the deportation and expropriation of the Jews and survival after the Holocaust. “The pupils have taken an intensive look at the subject”, said ITS historian Dr Susanne Urban. “They not only analysed the documents, but also expressed empathy with the victims.”

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[10-21-2010]  

On a two-day visit in mid-October, Annemieke van Bockxmeer, Petra Links and Tim Veken from the National Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) viewed the documentary holdings and database of the International Tracing Service (ITS). The institute is interested in having access to the digital database of the ITS. “As the appraisal and re-appraisal of World War II and Nazi persecution have deepened in the Netherlands, numerous books on the topic are being put on the market, and our research department continues to grow,” relates archivist van Bockxmeer.

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[10-19-2010]  

Seven members of the French organization “Orphelins de Résistants” paid a one-day visit to the International Tracing Service (ITS) and its French Liaison Mission in Bad Arolsen. The members of the association are the children and grand-children of women and men involved in the French Résistance during the Second World War. “We have already received a lot of information from Bad Arolsen and feel reverence for the work the ITS does”, states Annie Dubois.

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Map Helps to Clear up Fate

Find in the Archives

[10-08-2010]  

A map kept in the archive of the International Tracing Service (ITS) has contributed to ultimately clear up the fate of a prisoner from Concentration Camp Dachau and paved the way to the scholarly conclusion: the Hungarian Jew Laslo Schröter, in fact, had died on a death march in Bavarian Antdorf. “Until now, his fate has been considered unsolved or even unsolvable”, said Albert Knoll, archivist of the Dachau memorial. “Planning to publish a death book in the year to come, we consider new finding or knowledge emerging from the ITS documents as precious as a gemstone.”

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[10-05-2010]  

On the occasion of the historians’ workshop dealing with the subject of death marches, Tomas Fedorovic from the Theresienstadt memorial could hand back to the International Tracing Service (ITS) 418 original cards from the Central Name Index. “Presumably the index cards were made available to the Czech tracing service, after the Second World War had ended, and not returned at the approach of the conflict politically splitting the world in an Eastern and a Western half”, explains Dr Susanne Urban, Head of the ITS Research Department.

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[10-04-2010]  

Jean-Luc Blondel, Director of the International Tracing Service (ITS), and Jürgen van der Horst, Mayor of the town of Bad Arolsen, invited the participants of the first workshop for historians the ITS organised on its own to an evening reception. “The goal we pursue with this workshop is to further, and give impetus to, research on the site of the ITS”, said Blondel. Between 4th and 7th October 2010, the ITS organises and hosts a workshop on the subject of death marches which 13 representatives from five countries take part in.

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[09-24-2010]  

Nine employees of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen took part in a workshop offered by the District Museum in Wewelsburg on the subject of “Identifying groups and individuals of either outright right-wing extremism or suchlike tendencies“. Thanks to the opening of the Arolsen archive and the organisation of exhibitions and events on its premises at regular intervals, the number of visitors to the ITS is on the increase. “Although first and foremost the formerly persecuted people, their next-of-kin, researchers and scholars, i.e. decently interested and motivated persons, come to see us, it is essential for our staff to learn how to deal with ‘undesirable aliens’”, said Maria Raabe, Head of the Central Administrative Secretariat and organiser of the guided visitors’ tours through the ITS.

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[09-23-2010]  

Leo and Henk van’t Hul also received personal effects belonging to their father Gerardus at the Amersfoort Memorial yesterday. They have been researching his fate since 2004. “Our mother seldom spoke about his imprisonment and death,” said Leo. “Not until a nephew phoned about the family tree did we find out about our father´s murder in the Wöbbelin sub-concentration camp.” The call prodded the brothers to look into the past.

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[09-23-2010]  

“Many emotions have been stirred up inside me,” said Arnold van Dam. “It is very moving to hold my father´s personal possessions in my hands. ”Sixty-five years after the end of the Second World War, the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen returned a wallet to the Dutchman yesterday containing photographs, letters and papers which had belonged to his father. The Nazis confiscated it from Nathan van Dam upon his arrival at the concentration camp Neuengamme.

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[09-17-2010]  

After publishing a memorial book of Soviet gravesites in Saxony, the documentation center in Dresden is planning a further memorial book on gravesites in Bavaria. “It would be enormously helpful to work with the International Tracing Service on this project,” said Dr. Alexander Haritonow, research assistant at the documentation center. He visited Bad Arolsen for a day to discuss his project and get an update on the digitization.

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[09-16-2010]  

The “archive” working group of ten representatives of various tracing services in Germany, the Federal Archive and the Federal Ministry of the Interior met in mid-September to hold a one-day conference at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. Their exchange of opinions focused on archiving and digitizing documents. “Both the operational digitization procedures and the database of the ITS convey a good impression“, said Ulrich Austermühle, head of the working group and deputy head of the tracing service of the German Red Cross (DRK) in Munich.

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[09-02-2010]  

Veroniki Finitsi has been investigating the fate of prisoners from Greece in the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) at Bad Arolsen. Making more complete or exact the data available on the approximately 400 men deported from Heracleon/Crete at the time is the main focus of her scholarly research. “This study allows me to contribute to Heracleon’s laying the foundation for a memorial in its town wall”, rejoices Finitsi.

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DP Adam Kohn

Find in the Archives

[08-23-2010]  

Holocaust survivor Adam (Adolek) Kohn became famous overnight thanks to one video showing him and his family dancing to the song “I will survive” in front of the entrance of Concentration Camp Auschwitz. His action met with a most varied response worldwide ranging from total rejection to utter enthusiasm. The ITS, in consequence, received many a request asking whether documents on Kohn’s fate were kept here. The period of his life he spent as displaced person is well documented here in particular, for instance by means of a DP identity card with photograph from 1948 – our find in the archives of the International Tracing Service.

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[08-20-2010]  

To get an idea of the documents’ collections kept in the ITS archives and the organization’s activities, founding Director Marcello Pezzetti and his assistant Sara Berger from the Museo della Shoah (Shoah Museum) in Rome were paying a one-day visit to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen in mid-August. “We gained a good impression”, said Pezzetti. "It makes a difference if you just hear of the place or see it for yourself."

 

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[08-13-2010]  

Stephan Janker of the Episcopal Ordinariate in Rottenburg am Neckar recently spent a week at the International Tracing Service (ITS) researching the deportation of Sinti and Roma from Baden-Württemberg to the concentration camp Auschwitz. “I´m more interested in the ‘why’ than the ‘wherefore’. My intention is to give victims back their names and identities.”

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Letter to the Director of the IRO

Finds from the Archives

[08-10-2010]  

Waclaw Rubinstein had survived the Holocaust. The thing he longed most for after the Second World War had come to an end finally was a new home. To make this wish come true, he pinned his hopes on the International Refugee Organization that in fact helped and gave him the status of a displaced person (DP). Nevertheless, Rubinstein was to wait until February 1951, when ultimately Norway was willing to grant him asylum. With a view to somehow expediting his emigration, he had handed a 16-page long collage to Donald Kingsley, the then Director of the IRO – our find in the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS).

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[08-05-2010]  

Odile Welfelé, Christian Oppetit, Vincent Bouat and Michel Kerbellec from the French National Archives paid a three-day information visit to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. The National Archives will presumably be the recipient of a copy of the ITS documents next year. The French archivists therefore concentrated their attention on the type of documents that can be found in the archives and the digital ITS database. “The documents from the ITS archives will not just be an important contribution to research in France, but will open up a new era that allows researchers in France to look more profoundly into the period of National Socialism”, said Oppetit.

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[07-21-2010]  

Victims of the Salzgitter-Drütte satellite camp have been the focus of the recent research conducted by Elke Zacharias and Meike Weth. This week at the archive of the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, the two historians thoroughly examined the documents on the first 50 prisoners who had been transported from the Buchenwald concentration camp to the satellite camp. “I never would have thought that our work at the ITS archive would be so successful,” says the memorial site director Zacharias.

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[07-15-2010]  

Professor Rainer Hering, Head of the State Archives of Schleswig-Holstein, visited the International Tracing Service (ITS) for one day in mid-July. He wanted to see the latest developments of the archive for himself. On 8 October 2010, he will be taking part in a round table discussion entitled  “Open at Last: The ITS Files in Arolsen”, which will be held by the German Studies Association (GSA) in Oakland, California. “I’m impressed by the changes that took place since my last visit three years ago,” said Hering.

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[07-14-2010]  

This week Wadim, Sergej and Valentina Martens traveled 1725 km from Kiev, Ukraine to Bad Arolsen, Germany. They made the trip for one reason: to personally thank the International Tracing Service (ITS) staff for reuniting their family with relatives in Australia. “A letter or postcard would not have been sufficient,” said Sergej Martens. “We simply had to come here for our hearts and souls.”

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[07-07-2010]  

Jan van Ommen spent a day at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen viewing documents on nearly 200 Dutch women. They had been deported from the Herzogenbusch (Vught) concentration camp to Ravensbrück when the Allied forces moved closer in September 1944. “My mother Rinsje was one of these women,” says the Netherlander.

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[07-05-2010]  

Gesher Calmenson, founder of the program “Remember Us: The Holocaust Bnai Mitzvah Project” visited the International Tracing Service (ITS) at the beginning of July accompanied by his wife Cynthia and Anna Cremaldi.The three Californians wanted to personally view documents held by the ITS as well as introduce their project. “We are deeply moved by the important work being done here,” said Cynthia Calmenson. “It cannot be an easy task to engage that level of human suffering day after day.”

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[06-29-2010]  

Julia Drinnenberg of Hofgeismar´s City Museum visited the International Tracing Service (ITS) at the end of June to research the fate of the Segal family, who were housed in Hofgeismar´s Displaced Persons (DP) camp. “I found the family´s DP registration cards at the ITS,” she reported.

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Changeover in Geneva

Latest Info

[06-28-2010]  

Barbara Hintermann, responsible for operations West (North America and Europe) within the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has come to Bad Arolsen today to get an overview of the activities of the International Tracing Service (ITS). Beginning with 1st June 2010, Hintermann has taken administrative charge of the ITS at the ICRC headquarters in Geneva succeeding Beat Schweizer, hitherto Deputy Director-General of the ICRC. “I am profoundly impressed by both the dimension of the archives on Nazi persecution and the tasks that are accomplished here”, said Hintermann.

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[06-21-2010]  

The suffering of the victims of medical trials is in the fore of the research Professor Hans-Jürg Kuhn conducts at the International Tracing Service (ITS) at Bad Arolsen. Within this general field of interest, he places special emphasis on the typhus fever experiments carried out on prisoners at Natzweiler concentration camp. “I am interested to learn how many inmates died as a result of the experiments”, says Kuhn. “The tracing service with its enormous volume of documents is an active source on that subject.”

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[05-28-2010]  

Preparing his master’s degree, the Freiburg student Christian Kretschmer deals with the subjects of “Prisoners of war in Mauthausen Concentration Camp“ and the “Mühlviertler Hasenjagd” (Mühlviertel hare hunting), a war event that took place in February 1945. During his research visit to the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen for one week he got access to and inspected almost 500 files. “I have taken a closer look at all the list material kept here on Mauthausen Concentration Camp, above all at the death registers of Mauthausen camp and the reports on escapes from various camps. I found the death reason entries of the sort “shot while attempting to flee” most revealing as they, in my view, serve to cover up a systematic killing procedure.”

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[05-21-2010]  

Four students of the Technical University of Darmstadt spent a week at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen pursuing research on the camp for Jewish Displaced Persons at Zeilsheim near Frankfurt/Main. “As school lessons usually draw the line of historical analysis at the end of the war, the post-war subject of the DPs has attracted my particular attention”, explains student Serpil Aygün.

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[05-19-2010]  

Paul Shapiro, the Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s (USHMM) Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies and member of the International Commission for the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, was presented yesterday Germany’s highest civilian recognition - the Cross of the Order of Merit.

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[05-18-2010]  

The children of the “Lebensborn” are haunted by the shadows of the past. The silence kept by their mothers, the search for their own identities and the myths grown up around the SS association have been preoccupying the minds of those affected to this day. Ingeborg Schinke, Astrid Eggers and Elke Sauer came to attend the opening of the exhibition titled "The Lebensborn Association” at the International Tracing Service (ITS) at Bad Arolsen in mid-May.

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Gauck at the ITS

Latest Info

[05-13-2010]  

Joachim Gauck, Chairman of the association “Against Oblivion – For Democracy”, came to see the International Tracing Service (ITS) at Bad Arolsen yesterday. “The visit had long been overdue”, so Gauck. “I am struck and stunned by what I was shown.” He visited the archives, informed himself of the structural build-up of the research department and viewed requests filed by Nazi victims and their next of kin.

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[05-04-2010]  

Australian national Rebbeca Sharp’s original intention had been to apply for a EU passport only. But what seemed to be a mere formality turned out to be a fascinating search for her roots. “For about a year, I have been striving to learn more now pursuing research in Australia, the US, Bulgaria and Germany”, said Sharp. Early in May, she looked into the documents kept at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen.

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[04-30-2010]  

Acting on behalf of the memorial on the Theresienstadt ghetto, historian Tomas Fedorovic has been viewing documents at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen for about a week. “I wished to gain a first basic survey of the voluminous material held at the ITS”, explains 34-year-old Fedorovic. His primary research interest is to make more complete, i.e. to add further names to, the Czech memorial’s database on the ghetto victims.

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[04-22-2010]  

Claudia Ried and Wolfgang Kucera spent two days at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen looking through the records kept here on inmates of Horgau, a former concentration camp branch. Their work dealing with the site of the former Dachau Concentration Camp commando in the woods of Horgau is based on a project titled “Zeigefinger weg – Arbeitshandschuhe raus” (Get away with the index finger, take out your labour gloves). “We intend to investigate in full detail the history of commando Horgau”, the two historians describe their project.

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[04-15-2010]  

Frank Dobia had an instinct for the moment. He always managed to escape certain death during the Holocaust. The Australian is the sole survivor of a Jewish family from Pomerania. Yesterday he viewed original documents on his imprisonment in the concentration camp Buchenwald and on his family´s fate. “I had heard a lot about Bad Arolsen,” said Dobia. "Now I wanted to see the archive with my own eyes."

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[04-14-2010]  

In mid-April, historian Ingo Bergmann paid a three-day research visit to the International Tracing Service (ITS) at Bad Arolsen subjecting 220 names of Holocaust victims who either were born in Ulm or had been living there in the period from 1933 to 1945 to a check. “My results will be brought to bear in the second edition of the commemorative book the town of Ulm is going to publish under the title “Und erinnere dich immer an mich” (And do always remember me).

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[04-08-2010]  

Buchenwald survivor Alex Moskovic wants to remember. “I would like to share my experiences with others and stand up for acceptance and respect,” said the American. To that end, he and his son Steven are making a documentary film, which brought them to the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen on April 7, 2010, his 79th birthday. The archive contains numerous documents on his family´s fate. Moskovic then traveled to the Buchenwald memorial to attend the ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of its liberation.

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[03-30-2010]  

Lüneburg resident Peter Asmussen visited the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen for two days at the end of March seeking information on prisoners held in protective custody. The elementary and secondary school teacher has been actively involved in confronting Lüneburg´s National Socialist past. “My friendships with victims and their families motivate me,” said the amateur researcher.

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[03-23-2010]  

Jan-Hinnerk Antons paid a two-day flying visit to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen viewing material for his dissertation on the subject “The life situation of Ukrainian Displaced Persons (DPs) in the British zone”. In a first step, he concentrated his name research on those about 200 former Ukrainian DPs who had a role to play in camp council and camp committee or acted as camp “chief”. “I could discover interesting documents from the post-war era at ITS”, so the historian.

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[03-10-2010]  

Early in March, a group composed of ten professors, doctoral candidates and students from the faculty of history at Darmstadt technical university paid a one-day information visit to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. The group used this taster contact to take a look at the archival holdings and to soundly assess the concrete research possibilities they offer. Going beyond that, the TU faculty plans to engage in an initial cooperation project including a teaching assignment. “The interest students of history show in the subject of National Socialism is as active and constant as ever“, states Professor Christoph Dipper, “which is why we are eager to amplify contact with ITS.”

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[03-03-2010]  

Sonja von Behrens spent a two-day investigative visit to the International Tracing Service at Bad Arolsen viewing lists from displaced persons’ camp Lahde and checking DPs’ names. Her research endeavour is to culminate in the production of another book on the post-1945 history of her hometown Minden and its surroundings. “It would be wonderful if I could manage to make a connection with former DPs in Poland“, says 43-year-old von Behrens expectantly.

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[02-22-2010]  

Mandated by Concentration Camp Memorial Centre Neuengamme and the association titled “Kinder vom Bullenhuser Damm e.V.”, historian Christine Eckel sifted through the archival material kept by the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen last week. She is investigating the fates of 20 children who, with their nurses, were murdered by the SS during the night of 21st April 1945. “In order to have a full view of the crime, we exhaust all information sources. As regards ITS, its children’s files and case correspondence are of special relevance to us”, said 30-years-old Eckel.

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[02-15-2010]  

On behalf of the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism, historian Dr Susanne Meinl spent the last weeks at the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen pursuing research. “In a first step, I am examining the hefty documentation selecting out the segments of relevance to us“, said Meinl. The Munich Nazi documentation centre is a project of the capital of the federal state Munich in cooperation with the Free State of Bavaria and the Federal Republic of Germany. Its objective is to build, and give shape and form to, a place of future-oriented historical-political education.

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[02-10-2010]  

Hobby researcher Klaus-Peter Schambach spent three days at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen examining documents on the Ohrdruf prison camp. Schambach´s research looked into how the camp was built, if it can be considered an independent and third concentration camp in Thuringia and existing documentation.

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[02-05-2010]  

Early in February, US historian Marc Masurovsky paid a two-day visit to the archive of the International Tracing Service (ITS) with a view to examining its holdings on death marches. “I just wanted to gain a rough idea on the type of documents available and the value they might have for my research work“, said Masurovsky.

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[02-02-2010]  

Her intention to write a dissertation on displaced persons in the French-occupied zone in post-war Germany has led Julia Maspero to the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS). “I attempt to find out from where the DPs originally had come, what they had gone through during the war, how they got along in the DP camps and where they ended up finally”, explains the doctoral candidate at Sorbonne University in Paris her project. She is also trying to find eye witnesses of the time.

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[01-19-2010]  

On behalf of Memorial Centre Concentration Camp Moringen Julia Braun and Stefan Wilbricht are searching through more than 3500 names in the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. “Thanks to the archive’s opening, it has become possible for us to compare the data kept in Moringen with those held at ITS”, said Wilbricht. “Moreover, we find it important to record the victims’ life stories before and after their confinement in Moringen. This is feasible nowhere but at ITS.”

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[01-08-2010]  

Christoph Schwarz spent two days at the International Tracing Service (ITS) archive in Bad Arolsen researching the fates of 60 Polish children.  The educator from Freiburg is using their life stories as material for his history lessons. “I would like my students to learn about National Socialism using a different approach.  My experience has shown me that adolescents are better able to deal with the topic when they acquire history based on biographies.”

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