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An Initial Overview

The archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) comprise documents on detention in concentration camps and Gestapo prisons as well as on forced labor and displaced persons. Before the ITS archives opened in November 2007 and the function of the ITS changed from a tracing service to a documentation center on Nazi persecution, the focus was on registering information according to name. The documents are meanwhile being made accessible according to archival criteria and the needs of historical research. In view of the sheer mass of documents, it will take several years to describe and index the extensive sub-collections. The aids for searching the holdings reflect the current status of the indexing process for each collection.

Since the indexing process has not yet been completed, users with specific research interests are advised to inquire with the ITS or, where applicable, to visit Bad Arolsen to carry out research on site in the ITS digital archive. The same applies to the search for persons, which is not possible by way of the general inventory or finding aids.

For the present there are three different ways available to get information about the collections:

The general inventory offers an overview of the ITS collections. Archive users can gain an impression of how the collections are structured and find basic information on the various sub-collections. This information includes, for example, its title, size, access number, and a brief description. You can explore the holdings by way of a search in the inventory structure or by keyword. Further information on the structure and content of the general inventory is found here.

The ITS has published ten finding aids as well as two subject-based inventories on various focal points of the collections. The finding aids and special inventories offer researchers a good overview of the respective collections and reconstruct the origin of the documents, but cover only a small proportion of the entire ITS holdings. Here you can read more about the creation of the finding aids.

A small proportion of the ITS’s archival holdings can be accessed by way of an online Portal - the Digital Collections Online. In addition to descriptions of the archival holdings, you can also find Images of documents there. The online archive is continually being expanded.