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“Who doesn´t discover anything here is in the wrong line of work”

Dr. Hermann Simon, director of the Centrum Judaicum in Berlin, visited the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen on 30 March 2011 to consider ways in which the two institutions could work together. “I was interested in finding out what we could do and how we could use the documents in the ITS archives,” said Simon. He discussed the opportunities for researchers with ITS director Jean-Luc Blondel and Dr. Susanne Urban, head of the research department at the ITS.

Simon made several suggestions including participating in research projects or holding seminars. A meeting is being planned with those involved to exchange concrete ideas. “I think it is important to let many researchers know that this archive is now open,” said Simon. “The types of questions asked are changing and the documents are being examined from a different perspective.” While inquiries about individual fates were in the main focus in the past, researchers would now consider the documents within an overall context and access collections in a completely new way.

Simon was particularly interested in documents from the Reich´s Association of the Jews in Germany at the ITS archives. “It is quite interesting to see what has happened to the holdings in the meantime and how they were handled,” said Simon. He also took a closer look at the collection of documents on Displaced Persons. “It is a piece of post-war history which is unique in terms of its breadth and depth.” Every archive staff member should be able to discover something, according to the 61-year-old, but “those who don´t discover anything here are in the wrong line of work. This archive is simply fascinating.”