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Children’s Tracing Branch Data Handed Over

This week the International Tracing Service (ITS) of Bad Arolsen forwarded additional copies from its inventory to five partner organisations in Israel, the US, Poland, Luxembourg and Belgium. The data delivery consisted of documents from the children’s tracing branch, as well as files on Nazi persecution which do not reference specific individual fates. “These files include, for example, documents involving concentration camp logistics, medical experiments, the ‘Lebensborn’ association and trials from the post-war era,” said chief archivist Udo Jost. “It’s a small part of our archive’s inventory by comparison, but it’s of particular interest to research.”

The documents from the children’s tracing branch pertain to non-German children who had been reported missing. The files also document the search for the family members of children and adolescents who survived forced labour, abductions or concentration camps and were under the age of 18 when they were found alone at the end of WWII. “The youngest among them sometimes didn’t even know what their surnames were,” notes Margret Schlenke, head of the tracing section at ITS. “Their stories are highly emotional. They are an exceptional testimonial to the brutality of the NS regime.”

The documents handed over this week comprise nearly 2.3 million images and 357 GB – the majority of documents from both parts of the archive’s stock. The remaining documents are set to be handed over in early 2011. In accordance with the resolution by the International Commission which oversees the work of ITS, all eleven member states are entitled to digital copies of the documents archived in Bad Arolsen. The recipients of the latest data delivery include Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., the National Institute for Remembrance in Warsaw, the Centre for Documentation and Research on Resistance in Luxembourg and the Belgian State Archives in Brussels. “The documents can now of course also be searched for and viewed in the ITS database in Bad Arolsen,” says Jost.

Up until now around 87 million images have been handed over to the different institutions, including documents on concentration camps, ghettos and prisons (ca. 18 million images), the ITS central name index (ca. 42 million images), registration cards of displaced persons (ca. 7 million images), documents concerning forced labour (ca. 13 million images), files from DP camps and emigration after World War II (ca. 5 million images), as well as general documents and the inventory from the children’s tracing branch (ca. 2 million images so far). ITS’s three million correspondence files between survivors or family members and the authorities still need to be transferred, but their digitisation will still take some years to complete.