International Tracing Service
IKRK-Fahne vor ITS-Gebäude


The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today said good-bye with a reception on the occasion of its withdrawal from the management of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. “The ICRC looks back with pride and satisfaction on the cooperation with the Federal Republic of Germany and the member states of the International Commission for the ITS. Today, the ITS is an institution that is known and recognized“, said ICRC President Peter Maurer. Representatives of the German federal government thanked the ICRC for its long years of commitment which began with the signing of the Bonn Agreements in June 1955.




The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen this week provided further digital copies of its records to seven partner organizations in Israel, USA, Poland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Great Britain. This data involves 224,000 ITS correspondence files with survivors and family members of victims of Nazi persecution. “300,000 of a total of three million correspondence files have now been scanned,” said Djordje Drndarski, Associate Director and Head of the Archives at the ITS.




The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen has published further finding aids to its archives on the internet which aim to guide users in the ITS collections and archives. The finding aids are thematically dedicated to the Child Search Branch, the Gestapo, as well as the eighth Nuremberg Follow-UpTrial Against War Criminals. In addition, around 700 trial files against foreign members of the German Armed Forces are also recorded.


Cooperation strengthened

Press Release

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The International Tracing Service (ITS) and the National Tracing Services of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement have strengthened their future cooperation at a joint conference in Bad Arolsen, Germany. The tracing service in Bad Arolsen will continue to be able to benefit from the network of Red Cross societies even after the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) withdraws from the management of the ITS at the end of 2012. “Thanks to the cooperation, we have been able to reconcile numerous families during the past decades which were torn apart as a result of Nazi persecution and deportation,” said ITS director and ICRC delegate Jean-Luc Blondel. “We want to continue with this important task together.”



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The International Tracing Service (ITS) opened an exhibition on the death marches from concentration camps yesterday evening in Bad Arolsen. It is the conclusion of a two year research project on this subject, explained Dr Susanne Urban, Head of Research and Education at the ITS. We have concentrated our knowledge into this exhibition. It gives an insight into the collection of documents, individual fates and the feelings of the survivors. The exhibition "The Death Marches in the Documents of the International Tracing Service (ITS)" can be seen until 15th March 2013. 


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Over the past few days, the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen has returned personal effects from Neuengamme concentration camp to 18 families from the Netherlands. These are wallets, photos, papers and letters that were taken away from the prisoners upon their arrival at the concentration camp. These personal items create a special kind of connection with the persecuted and murdered relatives. They are a piece of memory that, in our opinion, is best off with the families, said ITS Director Jean-Luc Blondel.



A research project at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen is providing access to as yet unexplored archival materials and is developing a travelling exhibition to be launched in 2014. The implementation of the exhibition project "Life in transit - trauma and new beginnings. Survivors of Nazi persecution" is supported by the Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" (EVZ).



Interest in the documentation of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen on persecution and forced labour under the Nazi regime has remained undiminished. In 2011, the ITS received a total of 12 941 requests for information (2010: 12 981, 2009: 11 768). Compared with the same period in 2011, the first half of 2012 showed an increase with 6889 requests (previous year 6492). "This trend is due to the growing number of requests coming from Eastern European countries, where many questions about the past are still unanswered", ITS director Jean-Luc Blondel pointed out.



The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen has introduced a new teaching resource on the topic of children and youth persecuted by the Nazi regime. The teaching materials (available in German only) entitled "I am alone among strangers" contain biographies from different victim groups, among them Jewish and Sinti children, children of forced labourers, and Germanised "Lebensborn" children. "With presenting these individual fates we hope to reach peer groups and students from multi-ethnic backgrounds and to inspire empathy as well as curiosity about this subject", said Dr Susanne Urban, head of research and education at the ITS. "We are not focusing on mere facts, but want to present individual stories. Young people need a link to history and to experiences which create empathy and ability to understand the victims’ fates."



Wallstein Publishing in Göttingen and the International Tracing Service (ITS) Bad Arolsen have launched the first scholarly ITS yearbook "Freilegungen - Auf den Spuren der Todesmärsche" (Uncovered – On the traces of the Death Marches). It examines the death marches from concentration camps at the end of the Nazi regime, a subject that only in recent years has featured more prominently in Holocaust research. "The review of a record group in the archives of the ITS has brought together international experts who present their first results of one and a half years of research in the yearbook", said Dr Susanne Urban, co-editor and head of research at the ITS.



Professor Rebecca Boehling will become the next Director of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. She was appointed unanimously by the eleven-member state International Commission which supervises the work of the ITS at its annual meeting in Paris last week. The historian will take up her post on 1st January 2013. The Chairman of the International Commission, Frédéric Baleine du Laurens, Director of Archives at the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs noted. "Strong academic and administrative leadership is required to ensure the continuing institutional transformation of the ITS into a centre for documentation, information and research of world importance. The ITS’s expanded mission is both challenging and fulfilling, and the International Commission is delighted to have secured the appointment of such an outstanding candidate."



The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen will conserve about 300 000 original documents from the Dachau concentration camp this year using the process of mass deacidification. The records in question were created between 1934 and 1945 and relate to the registration of prisoners. The conservation of individual documents of prisoners from the Buchenwald concentration camp has now been completed. Since 2000, about 2.7 million out of a total of 30 million documents have been conserved.



The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen and educationalists from the University of Kassel today presented teaching materials on biographies of young victims and survivors of National Socialist persecution. The teaching materials were developed in a joint teaching research project with students of the University of Kassel. Documents from the Child Tracing Service in the archives of the ITS formed the basis of the project "I did not know who my parents were". "We would like to convey history and stories based on the fate of individuals. The fates of children are particularly suitable for learning groups of a comparable age and from multi-ethnic backgrounds", said Dr. Susanne Urban, Head of Research at the ITS.



The International Tracing Service (ITS) concluded a cooperation agreement today with the Wilhelm-Filchner School in Wolfhagen. From the start of the academic year 2012/2013, an annual history workshop for the senior classes and various projects on National Socialist persecution will take place. In the future, the pupils will be able to use the archives of the ITS for presentations and assignments in an interdisciplinary way. "Due to this cooperation, our pupils are able to deal with the subject of National Socialism in such a way that the people who were persecuted and killed are in the foreground", said Headmistress Rita Schmidt-Schales. "This personal and regional-specific access can lay a foundation stone for a responsible attitude in view of the trends of xenophobia and racism in the modern age."



Today the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen published online a new finding aid about its collection of documents relating to "Lebensborn", a Nazi organisation that was operated by the SS. With a total of 529 files the ITS holds most of the original documents of the organisation such as the organisation's statutes signed by Heinrich Himmler. "The new finding aid will be particularly interesting for research purposes as the collection is largely unknown,” said archivist Karsten Kühnel, who manages the archival description of documents at the ITS. “The documents will provide a valuable insight into the internal structures of the organisation.”



The International Tracing Service (ITS) has recently received the support of four new academic staff who are working in the areas of research, archive and administration: Michael Schmid, René Bienert, Ina Schulz and Tamara Kiefer are the new faces at the ITS. Michael Schmid is the new head of administration and René Bienert works as a historian in the area of research. In their role of archivists Ina Schulz and Tamara Kiefer contribute to the archival description of the documents.



On Saturday 3rd March 2012, the International Tracing Service (ITS) will open its doors to the public on the nationwide Day of the Archives. It is the sixth event of this kind organised by the Association of German Archivists (Verband deutscher Archivarinnen und Archivare). The theme the archives have chosen for this occasion is "Fire, Water, War and other Catastrophes".



Over the last two days Dr. Michael Hollmann, the president of the German Federal Archive, has been visiting the archive of the International Tracing Service (ITS) for the first time. The ITS archive contains about 30 million documents relating to Nazi persecution. From January 2013 the Federal Archive will become the "institutional partner" of the ITS as stipulated in a recently signed international agreement on the role and administration of the ITS. "I wanted to get an idea of what lies ahead of us", Hollmann said. "As a future partner the Federal Archive will provide advice and assistance to the ITS, first and foremost, in archival matters."



Michael Boddenberg, Hessian Minister for Federal Affairs and State Representative in the Federal Parliament has visited the International Tracing Service (ITS) today to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day. "As Germans we have an obligation to face up to the past and to learn from it", Boddenberg said. "This also entails that archives are accessible and transparent. The people who suffered under the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century are morally entitled to demand that nothing is kept hidden."