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Model for the MPI in Sarajevo

Five representatives of the Institute for Missing Persons (MPI) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Sarajevo paid a two-day visit to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. Looking over its staffs’ shoulders, they got a general idea of the work done at the ITS. In the centre of their special interest, however, was the Central Name Index compiled to be the key to the documentation gathered on the persecution under Nazi reign. “Its structure may act as a model for us“, MPI Director Amor Masovic has discovered.

The MPI collects information on persons who went missing in consequence of the armed ethnic conflict in former Yugoslavia. The institute makes concrete plans for building up a central database to facilitate both its searching for missing people and providing information to their family members. Serving as registry, the databank is supposed to help end the dispute over the precise numbers of dead and missing victims. “We consider it very important to centralize the information we receive from various organisations and institutions”, explains Masovic. “We have only just started, though.” According to Masovic, the MPI is years away still from the work conditions one finds now at the ITS, from the political and financial support the ITS enjoys and the comprehensive documents’ collection it calls its own.

His colleague Marko Jurisic was particularly impressed by the digitization process and progress. “The database will be of outstanding value to research”, so the Director. The ICRC, the body responsible for the direction of Bad Arolsen-based ITS, is going to assist the MPI with the compilation of both, a databank and a documents’ collection, and with responding to requests filed by families. Milan Bogdanovic, the third Director of the MPI, had personal, private reasons for coming to Bad Arolsen. He inquired after Milan Polimac, his uncle, who, in World War II, had been a forced labourer in Austria, and could, in fact, look into the documents the archive keeps on Milan. “Insofar, my visit to Arolsen was not merely impressing, but moving”, states Bogdanovic.