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New Agreements Establish Future Missions and Structure for the ITS

The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen will expand its role and faces a change in management. The eleven-member state International Commission that supervises the work of the ITS last week initialled two new agreements on the future tasks and administration of the ITS. The new agreements formally extend the tasks of the ITS into such areas as historical research, education, commemoration and cataloguing, thereby enlarging the already existing main mandate of tracing. The German Federal Archives will become the new institutional partner as of January 1, 2013. The role of the institutional partner is to advise and work together with the International Commission and the director of the ITS in fields such as conservation and preservation; cataloguing and indexing; budgeting and auditing. The Director of the ITS will be appointed by the International Commission by unanimous decision.The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has announced its withdrawal from the management of the institution at the end of 2012.

FAQ regarding the new agreements

Below a statement by the President of the International Commission, Frédéric Baleine du Laurens, and the press release of the ICRC:

New Agreements Establish Future Missions and Structure for the International Tracing Service
Paris, 18th November 2011

The International Commission for the International Tracing Service (ITS) has just met in Paris on 17 and 18 November 2011. Commission representatives initialled two important agreements aimed at strengthening the solidarity of the 11 member states with the ITS, confirm and widen its tasks and specify its future framework for action.

"These proposed agreements once again confirm the unanimous support of the 11 member states for the International Tracing Service, which has been performing admirable humanitarian work, as well as work for the preservation of memory. The agreements are a logical step following the opening of the archives for research at the end of 2007. We have laid the basis for the gradual development of the ITS into an international centre for documentation, information and research", said Frédéric Baleine du Laurens, President of the International Commission and Director of the Archives in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

With these two new agreements, which are subject to signature and ratification by national governments, a way forward has been found that secures the future of the ITS, stressed Baleine du Laurens. "Since its creation serving the victims of National Socialist persecution and their successors has been an important task of the ITS. This will be continued in the best possible way. However, we must also be aware of the requirements of commemoration work and ask questions about the future when there will no longer be any contemporary witnesses of these tragedies. The documents preserved in Bad Arolsen offer enormous possibilities for enlightening and teaching future generations and for pursuing historical research. We want to benefit more intensively from this potential in future, and therefore advocate decidedly giving broad access to the archival material held in Bad Arolsen, including through distance access.“

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has announced its withdrawal from the management of the institution at the end of 2012. „The important humanitarian work done by the Red Cross, in particular the many family reunions, was of vital moment for the persons concerned“, said Baleine du Laurens. “The International Commission wants to express its high esteem of the admirable work the ICRC has done in this field for almost 60 years and cordially and unanimously thank the organisation on behalf of the 11 member states.”

The International Commission has decided that as of 1 January 2013, the German Federal Archives will act as the “new institutional partner” of the ITS. These two institutions will work closely together in consideration of their respective statutes and mandates. “In respect of its outstanding competence, the International Commission is particularly glad that the German Federal Archives agreed to be the future institutional partner of the ITS”, says Baleine du Laurens and adds: “We wish for a successful cooperation between the ITS and the Federal Archives in the interest of all parties concerned. The special relationship between the two institutions will be made visible in that the Federal Archives will be represented in the International Commission as a permanent observer.”

The Director of the ITS will be appointed by the International Commission by unanimous decision. The Director will be accountable directly to the International Commission and act as its secretary.

About the International Tracing Service

The International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen serves victims of Nazi persecutions and their families by documenting their fate through the archives it manages. The ITS preserves these historic records and makes them available for research. The ITS is supervised by an eleven-member state International Commission (Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom and the United States).

ICRC News Release No. 11/235
International Tracing Service: new management, extended role

ICRC (Geneva) - The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, Germany is set to expand its role. While continuing to trace people missing as a result of the Second World War and reuniting families, the ITS is to become a centre for documentation, research and education on the Nazi persecution of 1933 to 1945.

Back in 1955, the 11-State International Commission for the ITS entrusted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with the management of the ITS. Now the time has come for the ICRC to withdraw from that role, a process that will be complete by the end of 2012.

Meeting in Paris on 18 November 2011, the International Commission agreed an enlarged mandate and new management structure for the ITS, assigning to the German Federal Archives the role of adviser. These changes are planned to come into effect on 1 January 2013, but the ICRC will retain observer status at the International Commission and will continue to work with the ITS on all tracing related services involving the worldwide network of the International Movement of Red Cross Red and Crescent Societies.

The new status results from the opening up of the ITS' archives in 2007 and confirms its evolution from a purely tracing-oriented body to a centre for documentation, research and education.

"After more than half of a century of managing the work of the ITS in providing millions of answers to people around the world on the fate of their loved ones, the time has come for us to leave. But we will continue to lend our technical expertise on tracing-related matters to the new ITS," explained Barbara Hintermann, head of ICRC operations in Europe and North America.

The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen serves victims of Nazi persecution and their families by documenting their fate through the archives it manages. The ITS preserves its historic records and makes them available for research.