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Scholarly Exchange on the ITS Collections and Current Holocaust Scholarship in Washington

On the occasion of the conference "The International Tracing Service Collections and Holocaust Scholarship" taking place in Washington on 12th and 13th May 2014, the examples of numerous research projects were used to examine the value the collections of the International Tracing Service (ITS) already have today for Holocaust scholarship and the potential they offer in the future. Twenty-six scholars from Australia, Germany, Austria, the UK, France, Israel, Spain and the USA participated in the conference that had been co-organized by the ITS-Bad Arolsen and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C. Moreover, between 25 and 75 guests visited the various events, which were open to the public, at the USHMM throughout the two days. The lectures, all researched on the basis of ITS documents, showed which new possibilities for Holocaust scholarship are already evident now on the basis of some of the ITS documents, and which prospects, but also which limitations, may unfold.

Remarkable: the Range of Research Projects

The conference brought scholars together who, since the opening of the ITS archives, have worked on quite diverse key issues using the unique sources available for the first time. In six different topic areas, they presented research results about Nazi Germany and its occupied territories and peoples during World War II in connection with persecution, incarceration, forced labor, mass murder as well as the trauma and legacy of displacement and emigration attempts during the post-war period. In her concluding words on the event, Dr. Rebecca Boehling, Director of the ITS and Professor of History at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, remarked that research subjects relating to ITS sources were increasingly dealing with the final phase of the Nazi regime, DPs, forced labor, but also with subjects like gender and the changing identities of survivors. In order to facilitate research networking between the ITS Archive in Bad Arolsen and institutional owners of digital ITS copies, she introduced consistent citation rules regarding the ITS sources. The Director of the USHMM Mandel Center, Paul Shapiro, called for research to make more use of the entire range of the ITS collections, realizing that the archival description and indexing should be improved for this purpose. There is still a considerable amount of material yet untapped, he said, for which research projects still needed to be initiated.

Please find a detailed conference report <media 1267>here</media>.