a A

History and activities of the International Tracing Service (ITS)

Workshop of the ITS exhibition team with Rikola-Gunnar Lüttgenau from the Buchenwald Memorial as curatorial advisor and gewerkdesign as designers. Photo: gewerkdesign

How did the Allies and survivors' initiatives tackle the challenge of searching for the millions of victims of Nazi crimes? How was the International Tracing Service created? How did the millions of original documents relating to concentration camps, forced labor and displaced persons find their way to the tracing service? What tools did the staff use back then, and what do ITS employees use today?  

The International Tracing Service (ITS) is developing a permanent exhibition to present its methods and history to a wider audience for the first time. The exhibition will cover the period from the start of Allied tracing activities at the end of World War II to the work of the ITS today.

In the course of developing the exhibition, new findings about the history of the ITS will be discussed in advance at an international conference from 8 to 9 October 2018 in Bad Arolsen.

The exhibition will focus on the world documentary heritage of the ITS: more than 30 million original documents on Nazi crimes and their direct consequences, as well as the Central Name Index with around 50 million reference cards. Based on selected documents, the exhibition will explain the working methods of the ITS, the search for victims of Nazi crimes, the provision of information and the documentation of persecution. It will also emphasize the fact that there are individual stories behind each of the 17.5 million people registered in the Central Name Index. They are stories of deportation, persecution and murder, but also of survival, rediscovery, new beginnings and the struggle for recognition and compensation.

The exhibition is due to open in the spring of 2019. It will be displayed in the ITS satellite building at Schlossstrasse 10 in Bad Arolsen. The visual design of the exhibition is being handled by the gewerkdesign studio in Berlin.