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US Representative Davidson at the ITS

Douglas Davidson, US Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, got acquainted with the activities of the International Tracing Service (ITS) on a one-day visit he paid to Bad Arolsen. “Most interesting and enlightening”, Davidson summed up his impression. “There is no substitute for a personal visit. It’s clear the ITS does uniquely valuable work so many years after war’s end.”

The US Representative had a guided tour through the archives, a look at the digitisation process, the work of the Research and the Humanitarian Department. He also held talks with ITS Director Jean-Luc Blondel. “The archive is quite a resource,” Davidson said. “It not just provides information on missing persons and victims of the persecution, but also on Displaced Persons and the migration. Stories that are worth to be told.”

The US Representative was impressed with the quantities of requests survivors and family members send to the ITS still. “This is a clear sign for a greater and continuing interest in looking back and finding out”, said Davidson. “Towards the end of their lives survivors want to remember“. He sees a renewed interest in education and remembrance of the Holocaust. “We must discuss how we can keep remembering when the contemporary witnesses will no longer be able to give their direct, first-hand account.”

Davidson represents the US Government in the International Commission that controls the work of the ITS. Besides the USA, ten other states are part of the commission. “Our current debate focuses on the exact role of the future institutional partner for the ITS”, reported Davidson. Late in 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will retire from the management of the ITS. It is expected that the Federal German Archive will be chosen to be the new partner. “I hope the ITS can play a central role as a place for historical research on a uniquely tragic period in contemporary history”, said Davidson.