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ITS archivist spoke at Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” Workshop

At the invitation of the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” (EVZ), ITS archivist Karsten Kühnel spoke to an international group of historians, archivists and representatives of memorials in Germany, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Belarus and Ukraine on March 31, 2009 in Berlin. Kühnel gave an overview of the documents on forced labour at the International Tracing Service´s archive. Most participants in the 4-day workshop, which took place as part of the research program “Documentation of Forced Labour as a Task of Remembrance,” are involved in current research on the history of forced labour under the Nazis.

“People were quite interested in the richness of the collection and the ITS´s new concept of accessing the documents,” reported Kühnel. The archivist introduced the archive´s current classification system and gave key examples of how it is organized. His presentation centered on how to make the files accessible that were compiled for research by names but must now also answer subject-specific questions as well as on the virtual reorganization of original historical tradition.

According to Kühnel, an important task is the reactivation of historical finding aids, which would greatly simplify access to research documents over time. At the same time, the indexing of ITS documents conforms to internationally-recognized professional standards. Kühnel has created a prototype for an online finding aid for the concentration camp Natzweiler-Struthof´s collection.

Further presentations at the Berlin workshop focused on the Federal Archive´s information portal “forced labour in the Nazi state,” as well as on the archives in Ukraine and the Russian Federation, the Czech Republic and Poland. The workshop aimed to gain a deeper mutual insight into the research projects and research establishments.

Photo: Podium (from left) Dr. Dieter Pohl (Institute for Contemporary History, Munich), Karsten Kühnel (International Tracing Service, Bad Arolsen), Dr. Sylvia Rogge-Gau (Federal Archive)