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New Head of Archives at the ITS

This week Dr. Christian Groh started his work as Head of Archives for the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. The 46-year-old will take on the responsibility for the departments of Archival Management, Archival Description, Indexing and Digitization with roughly 100 staff members. “My reasons for accepting this position were the uniqueness of the ITS, which was founded for humanitarian tracing and fate clarification tasks and has developed into an outstanding institution dealing with the history of victims of Nazi persecution and the post-war aftermath, as well as the international networking connected to the work of the ITS”, says Groh. “It is not an archive in the classical sense, but one that has grown with its tasks and has been structured according to them. Directing it therefore poses an exceptional challenge for me.”

The archives of the ITS comprise roughly 30 million documents from the time of National Socialism as well as from the immediate post-war period. These include records concerning civilians persecuted by the Nazis and Nazi collaborators, including persons deported to concentration camps and ghettos, as well as those coerced to perform forced labor. The archives also contain the records of the survivors in Displaced Persons camps and their emigration. In 2013 the original documents and the Central Name Index were inscribed on the UNESCO “Memory of the World” Register.

Dr. Christian Groh received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Heidelberg after completing undergraduate studies in History and English. After receiving his Ph.D. he completed his studies in archival science at Potsdam University. From 1998 until March 2014 Dr. Groh worked for the Municipal Archives in Pforzheim, ultimately in the position of director.

His initial priorities will be to make the archival holdings of the ITS more accessible for the ITS work of providing information to survivors and the families of victims of the Nazis and for the purposes of researchers and educators. This will involve more in-depth indexing and archival description of the documents in the archives. Moreover, Dr. Groh will assist the Archival Management Department with the implementation of restoration and conservation measures as well as in securing the proper archival storage of the documents.

The ITS hopes that the current study of options regarding an archival building for the ITS will soon reach a conclusion. The consequential preparations and tasks in connection with the storage of the documents, recognized by the UNESCO as World Document Heritage, in appropriate air-conditioned and safe archival rooms will also fall within the scope of his responsibilities.