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President of the German Federal Archives gets an impression of the International Tracing Service

Over the last two days Dr. Michael Hollmann, the president of the German Federal Archive, has been visiting the archive of the International Tracing Service (ITS) for the first time. The ITS archive contains about 30 million documents relating to Nazi persecution. From January 2013 the Federal Archive will become the "institutional partner" of the ITS as stipulated in a recently signed international agreement on the role and administration of the ITS. "I wanted to get an idea of what lies ahead of us", Hollmann said. "As a future partner the Federal Archive will provide advice and assistance to the ITS, first and foremost, in archival matters."

"The main task of the ITS up until now, the tracing service and the documentation of the fate of the victims, is expected to decline in coming years", Hollmann stated. "Instead, the use of the archival documents for research purposes will move into focus. To that effect the ITS will have to develop its strength as an archive." Hollmann indicated that the Federal Archive could offer its expertise in indexing, preserving, storing, administering and accessing the documents.

During his two-day visit Dr Hollmann got to know the different sections of the ITS archive. He familiarised himself with the current tasks of the ITS, especially the state of the digitalisation, the preservation and indexation of documents. "I'm impressed", Hollmann said. "The perspective of the victim is much more present at the ITS than at the Federal Archive. Thanks to the tracing services and the reunification of families the ITS has been able to bring about a certain degree of healing for those who suffered under the Nazi regime."

Jean-Luc Bondel, the director of the ITS, remarked that the details of the future partnership would become more concrete in the coming months. "I'm looking forward to working together. Our cooperation will be characterised by creativity and responsibility." The president of the Federal Archive dispelled all fears concerning a possible "takeover" of the ITS. The present regulations for access would not be affected by the partnership either. "German archival legislation doesn't apply to the ITS. Regulations for access are determined entirely by the International Commission", Hollmann assured.