a A

Visit from Scandinavian Red Cross

Red Cross Tracing Service representatives from Norway, Finland and Denmark were able to get an insight yesterday into the ITS (International Tracing Service) in Bad Arolsen. They toured the archive and met colleagues from the humanitarian requests section. ”It´s always nicer to be able to put a name to a face,” said Brita Liholm Johannessen, who heads the Tracing Service at the Norwegian Red Cross.

The visit was especially useful in gaining an understanding of the organization: the structure of the archive, the subject matter of the documents, the ITS´s variety of tasks, and the difference to the German Red Cross´s Tracing Service in Munich, reported the four Scandinavians Brita Liholm Johannessen, Stine Torbergen, Aki Väilä und Amiora Ajanovic. “Now we know how we can better utilize the ITS for our work,” said Ajanovic from Denmark.

The Red Cross representatives were impressed by the ITS archive. “The sheer quantity of documents is indescribable – alone the thought of how many people have handled and worked with this paper,” said Torbergen. The fact that the material was compiled despite pressing problems after the end of the Second World War has facilitated the search for family members. “Now it is vital to preserve these documents.”

The International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen is still little known in Scandinavia. “We will actively promote it. It is great that those persecuted by the Nazi regime can come directly here and look at their documents,” said Johannessen. The events of the Second World War still play an active role at the Tracing Service, especially in Norway. Approximately 20 per cent of the Red Cross cases there relate to this period. There are requests from Lebensborn children, former soldiers, forced laborers or Jewish survivors.