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A Memorial out of Paper

Some 30 million documents in the Archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) provide information on the fates of victims of Nazi persecution. Since 2013, the original collections are part of the UNESCO-“Memory of the WORLD”. The documents in the ITS archives concentrate on three central topics: incarceration, forced labor, and the liberated survivors.

  • Information on incarceration is found in the collection of documents from concentration camps and extermination camps, ghettos and Gestapo prisons. Registry cards and minutely detailed labor books, among others, provide information on the fates of the forced laborers. Another extensive collection is that of the documents on the liberated survivors, who were referred to as Displaced Persons by the Allies. With the help of these documents, the work of the Allies immediately following the end of the war can be traced, as well as that of the predecessor institutions to the ITS. From this work the Central Name Index was created, containing some 50 million reference cards on the fates of 17.5 million people. Like the ITS original collections, the Central Name Index is also registered on the “Memory of the World”.   

    The diversity and multitude of the documents bear witness to the crimes committed by the Nazi-Germany and its ramifications – even for the second and third generations of those persecuted. The preservation of these documents, as well as making them accessible, is an urgent task of the ITS Archive.

    Thomas Buergenthal

    We must never forget that the documents on deposit in Bad Arolsen are a sacred memorial held in trust to honor the memories of the millions of victims of the Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities.

    Thomas Buergenthal, Survivor


After 1945 the Allies decided that all preserved documents on persecution were to be collected at a central location. The ITS Archives came about as a result of this.

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Overview of the Archival Holdings

Catalogues and Finding aids offer initial guidance regarding which document collections at the ITS can be viewed.

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