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Hessian Archive Day in Bad Arolsen

On the occasion of the 32nd Hessian Archive Day in Bad Arolsen, the association of German archivists (VdA) welcomed the International Tracing Service (ITS) into the circle of Hessian archives. “We greet ITS with open arms. This is a very special archive in the state of Hesse,” said Dr Brigitte Streich, Chairwoman of the Hessian state association, at the opening event. This year ITS was one of the joint organisers of the two-day assembly of archivists in Bad Arolsen. “The event will help continue to boost the publicity of the tracing service in Hesse,” said ITS Director Jean-Luc Blondel. “At the same time, it is an expression of the future reorientation of the institution in terms of research and educational work.”

The general subject of Archive Day were the “sources of NS history in Hesse”. Around 90 participants gained insight into the work of the International Tracing Service on a tour through the facility and at lectures. The ITS archives hold millions of documents on the victims of Nazi persecution. The subjects of digitisation, indexing and the accessibility of these documents attracted the most interest, as did the topic of the future role of ITS. “ITS will probably never become an archive in the classical sense of the term because it has a decade-long history as an active tracing service and is continuing its humanitarian work,” commented Streich. “Becoming more familiar with its inventory, tasks and potential was nonetheless a highlight of our convention.”

VdA board member Dr Clemens Rehm said that the archive is faced with a multitude of challenges in today’s information society. “Archives are homes to a country’s history and collective memory. The gradual metamorphosis of ITS from a tracing service to an archive for academic research is therefore the right way to go.” Apart from ITS, Archive Day also focused on the use of municipal sources from the Nazi era, including the Frankfurt Gestapo files.