Securing valuable collections
Italy supports the restoration of ITS documents
The roughly 30 million original documents preserved in the ITS Archive provide information on the fates of the many victims of Nazi persecution, and form a unique memorial made of paper. To support the preservation of these valuable documents, Italy as 2015/2016 Chair of the International Commission has started an initiative in Rome for the restoration of the ITS documents.
The first set of documents travelled to Rome in early February 2016 and will receive restorative treatment at the Italian Central Institute for Restoration and Preservation of Archive and Library Heritage in the coming months. „The preservation of these documents is one of the most urgent tasks of the ITS“, the ITS Director Floriane Hohenberg explains. “For this reason we are very grateful that Italy is supporting us with their specialists and expertise.“ The Director presented these holdings so urgently in need of protection at an event organized by the Italian partners on 29 January 2016 in Rome. These collections involve books and files from the Concentration Camps of Buchenwald, Dachau, Flossenbürg and Mittelbau (Dora), among them death books as well as prisoner registration files with photos of the prisoners.
Substantial damage from daily use
For many years the ITS documents were used as working papers to help with responding to the inquiries – they were used on a daily basis und weren’t considered historically significant archival material. Highly acidic paper, adhesive strips, metal clips, lamination, decades of intensive use and, in some cases, inappropriate storage, caused serious damage: extreme acidification, ink corrosion, gaps, tears, and rust marks. However, in the year 2000 the ITS started to systematically preserve the holdings – more than six million objects have since been secured. As of 2013 the original documents in the ITS archives are included in the UNESCO “Memory of the World“ registry. And yet there are still millions of these unique documents in critical condition.
“With the tremendous number of extremely valuable documents the ITS preserves in its archives, support is called for“, says Dr. Micaela Procaccia, Deputy Director General of the department „Archive“ of the Italian Ministry for Culture and a member of the Commission for many years. „We must protect these unique documents of the World Cultural Heritage together“.
The restoration measures in Italy are a cooperative project of the General Directorate of the „Archive“ Department of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (DGA), the Central Institute for Restoration and Preservation of Archive and Library Heritage (ICRPCAL) and the ITS. In the summer of 2015 Italy, with Dr. Mario Guarany, General Director of the DGA, assumed the Chair of the International Commission. At the start of the one-year chairmanship, Dr. Guarany, together with the ICRPCAL, offered to provide restoration treatment in Italy of the ITS documents. During a visit to Bad Arolsen in the autumn of 2015 the Italian cooperation partners, together with the ITS, chose appropriate collections for this treatment.
Initial results will be presented by the experts and specialists at the next annual meeting of the ITS in 2016 in Rome.