The digitization of the documents begun in 1988 is of special significance for the protection and preservation of the archival holdings. Thus, staff members and visitors work almost exclusively with digital copies that are organized in the ITS databank. The largest proportion of the archival holdings is available there, comprising around 105 million digitized documents; these include scans of the reverse side of documents as well as envelopes used for storage, etc. It is only in exceptional cases that the original documents must be referred to.
Currently, the archive staff members are scanning the collection of the correspondence files, that is, the correspondence between the ITS and former victims of persecution and their families, as well as with authorities. In total, these files make reference to some three million victims of Nazi persecution. The digitization of this correspondence will be completed by 2020. Another digitization project involves the almost 100,000 envelopes containing medical files on Displaced Persons, of which approx. 40,000 have been scanned so far.
The diversity of the documents represents a great challenge for digitalization. Loose sheets of paper, questionnaires, index cards, and bound books in all conceivable formats have to be digitalized in such a way that this does as little damage to the paper as possible. To meet this challenge, the ITS has arranged for the development of special scanning stations.