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Visit of UK Envoy

Sir Andrew Burns, UK envoy for post-Holocaust issues, spent two days in early April learning about the latest developments at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. “It was a very interesting and illuminating visit,” said Burns. “I am deeply impressed by the number of activities and the sheer volume of documents.”

He toured the archive including the research division, heard about the digitization of documents and how inquiries are processed, and spoke with ITS director Jean-Luc Blondel. “The ITS is in good hands at present as it files a collection of world importance and testimony to a historical tragedy with profound contemporary significance,” said Burns.

The special envoy post was created in June 2010 by the British Foreign Office in order to coordinate Great Britain´s various activities in the areas of education, remembrance and Holocaust research, both nationally and internationally. Burns also represents the British government on the International Commission, which controls the ITS along with ten other member states.

The Commission is currently in negotiations over the future of the ITS and the role of the German federal archives as its new partner organization when the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) steps down at the end of 2012. “As the ITS moves into a new phase of historical research and enquiry, the International Commission needs to shoulder new responsibilities,” Burns concluded. “Great Britain sees the importance of the work and will pro-actively get involved.”