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Archive of the International Tracing Service listed in UNESCO Register „Memory of the World“

The Central Name Index comprises 50 million index cards.

The UNESCO has inscribed the original documents and the Central Name Index of the Archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, Germany, into the Memory of the World Register. „We are thrilled by the news“, said ITS director Professor Rebecca Boehling. „This is a great honor for the ITS and should attract even more attention to our incredible collections related to the victims of Nazi persecution and its legacy. The responsibility we all share in securing and preserving these archives for posterity is confirmed by this UNESCO decision.“

The ITS archives comprise around 30 million documents concerning those incarcerated in concentration camps, ghettos and Gestapo prisons, forced labourers and Displaced Persons. The Central Name Index, with more than 50 million index cards referring to the fates of 17.5 million people, was developed by the ITS over the past decades. It is an important key to the documents in tracing individual fates. „Every attempt to deny the Holocaust, the merciless persecution of minorities or the rampant exploitation of forced labourers is unthinkable in the presence of these archival collections. The consequences of the Nazi regime have become an ineradicable part of human history“, said Boehling.

All the documents that are now listed in the Memory of the World Register have been digitized and are accessible in several different archives and institutions in the member states within the International Commission, the governing board of the ITS. Apart from the ITS in Bad Arolsen, which contains not only the original documents but also a digital copy, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw, the Luxembourg Documentation and Research Centre on the Resistance, the Belgium and French state archives and the Wiener Library in London all possess digital copies of the archival holdings. The application for the Memory of the World Register was submitted in March 2012.

Since January 1946 the ITS reunites families and offers information from its documents to survivors of Nazi persecution and family members of victims. In November 2007 the archive was opened for research and education. The ITS employs a staff of 289.

About the International Tracing Service (ITS)

The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen is a centre for documentation, information and research about National Socialist persecution. The archive comprises around 30 million documents about incarceration in concentration camps, ghettos and Gestapo prisons, about forced labour and displaced persons. An international commission of eleven member states (Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Great Britain, USA) defines the guidelines for the work of the ITS. The German Federal Archive is the current institutional partner.

More Information by the UNESCO


Archives of the International Tracing Service

Documentary heritage submitted by the International Commission for the International Tracing Service (ITS) and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2013.

Between 1933 and 1945 the world went through an unprecedented period of destruction and persecution caused by the National Socialist regime in Germany. The Second World War represents the widest conflict humanity ever experienced, resulting in internments, displacements and deaths. The collection contains material from concentration and extermination camps, ghettos and Gestapo prisons, as well as documentation on the displacement and exploitation of forced labour and the fates of displaced people including survivors searching to emigrate out of a destroyed Europe. Since 1946, the archives of the ITS in Bad Arolsen (Germany) have been testimony to the persecution of minorities and political opponents of all kinds, the extreme exploitation of forced labour and a vast uprooting of people from their homes. The sheer volume of the ITS archives illustrates the extent of Nazi crimes. As witnesses will soon no longer be around to tell their stories, the documents become of even greater relevance.