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Raising Awareness of the ITS in the Ukraine

Early in July 2012 Victor Voronin from the State Archives Service of the Ukraine and Yaroslav Zhilkin from the Ukrainian State Commission on perpetuating memory of victims of war and political repression visited the archive of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. The two top officials came to inform themselves of the tasks of the institution and to get an overview of the archival collections preserved here. The visit is part of an initiative the ITS launched in 2010 to raise awareness and to offer its services in the Eastern European countries.

The two Representatives from the Ukraine were given an insight into the archives, the digitization of the documents, the treatment of humanitarian and archival requests and the Research Department. They also had talks with ITS Deputy Director Djordje Drndarski and ITS historian René Bienert. “It was a most interesting experience for us to come and see the archive. The ITS does excellent work on behalf of the survivors and their next-of-kin”, underlined Voronin. “We will do everything in our power to share more and better information with Ukrainian families and researchers on the activities of the ITS.”

Zhilkin, too, was moved by the sheer volume of the archival holdings and by the work the ITS does in the field of searching family members and clarifying fates. “My family itself was affected by Nazi persecution”, he explained. “My grandfather had disappeared without a trace on 22nd June 1941. I know how important it is for the families to gain final certainty on the fate of their loved ones.” In his view, the ITS is a good source for research projects as well. The visitors have surfed the digital database of the ITS themselves to form an idea of its functions and efficiency. “We have entered the Ukrainian localities of Korjukowka and Uman as search words. And we have managed to find not many, but at least a few documents on these places”, reported Zhilkin.

“From our talks it has become clear that a mutual interest in a long-term cooperation does exist“, concluded Drndarski. By coming to see Arolsen, the two Ukrainians have laid the foundation to report about the tracing service at home. “We do know now which holdings are kept at the archive, which type of requests can be lodged with the ITS, and we have learned how requests are handled”, said Zhilkin. “What we will do now is encourage further representatives of institutions and researchers from the Ukraine to travel to Bad Arolsen.” The two also consider a regular exchange of information on archival and research matters.