Foreign Minister Westerwelle and the Minister of State for Culture Neumann acknowledged work of the ITS
On the occasion of a meeting in Berlin of the eleven-nation International Commission, which defines the guidelines for the activities of the International Tracing Service (ITS), Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and the Minister of State for Culture Bernd Neumann have paid tribute to the work of the ITS. “The tracing service makes an important contribution to the study of the National Socialists’ terror regime. The institution has helped to clear up fates and reunite families torn apart by terror, war and dictatorship”, said Neumann.
In the morning of 16 January 2013, Foreign Minister Westerwelle welcomed the members of the International Commission, the new ITS Director, Professor Rebecca Boehling, as well as representatives of the German Federal Archives and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to the Foreign Office in Berlin. “We realize the importance and uniqueness of this collection of documents”, said Westerwelle. “The Federal Government will continue doing its utmost to support the International Tracing Service. Germany accepts its responsibility for the archive and will not place it on file.”
Talk given by Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (in German)
The Minister of State for Culture Bernd Neumann received the representatives of the International Commission in the Federal Chancellery later. Last year, the administrative responsibility for the ITS budget had passed from the Ministry of the Interior to the Minister of State. “With its reorganisation at the turn of the year, the ITS has taken an important step towards a modern archive that is open to academics and researchers researching National Socialism. In the German Federal Archives the ITS has a competent and reliable partner for support.” Financed from the budget of the Minister of State for Culture, the ITS receives an annual allowance of more than 14 million Euro.
“The testimonies kept in the ITS archives document most densely the monstrous crimes committed by the Nazi dictatorship”, accentuated the Minister of State. “They lend a name and a face to the outrageously high number of victims. The International Tracing Service will continue to play a primary role in researching Nazi terror and commemorating the victims.”
Talk given by the Commissioner for Culture and the Media Bernd Neumann (in German)
The International Tracing Service was directed and managed by the ICRC from 1955 until late in 2012. Now a Partnership Agreement between the ITS and the German Federal Archives has entered into force. And since the turn of the year the ITS has got a new Director, the US historian Professor Rebecca Boehling. The reason for this reorganisation is a shift in the tasks of the institution. Established as a pure tracing service initially, the ITS is gradually developing into a centre for documentation, information and research on Nazi persecution and the Holocaust. The legal basis for this reorientation are the Berlin Agreements that were signed on 9 December 2011 and have become effective on 1 January 2013.
The International Commission during its meeting discussed the possibilities of granting third parties remote access to the ITS database and the future part the Commission will play after the ICRC’s withdrawal. While the retreat of the humanitarian organisation gives the ITS more independence, the Commission’s task of monitoring the ITS activities will increase. The body will be under the chairmanship of the Federal Republic of Germany until May 2013.