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Roland Koch visits Tracing Service

Roland Koch, Premier of the German state of Hesse, highlighted the significant work being done at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen during his visit today. “The ITS has done magnificent humanitarian work in its role as a contact for many millions of people seeking information on their relatives. In future, research and educational work will be at the forefront, in addition to documentation, enabling the “Arolsen remembrance” to be preserved for future generations,” said Koch.

During a 90-minute tour, the Hessian prime minister was briefed on the document collection at the ITS archive, the status of the digitization, and academics´ interest in the ITS, which has been open for research since November 2007. “We are proud that the ITS is located in Hesse,” said Koch. “The institution is internationally recognized and has set the bar for handling cases of the missing and persecuted.”

Koch was greeted by ITS director Jean-Luc Blondel, who underscored the importance of the ITS archive as a new source for research: “It is our ambition to become a leading research center on Nazi persecution in Europe. We are very pleased at Koch´s interest.”

Mayor Juergen van der Horst emphasized the ITS´s significant role for the city of Bad Arolsen. “Roland Koch´s visit comes right in time as the ITS moves in a new direction. The archive is an asset for the region as it attracts researchers and interest from all over the world.”

ITS staff showed the Hessian premier important documents from concentration camps, presented concrete research projects and outlined perspectives for educational work. Arolsen offers a wealth of knowledge, said Koch after the tour. “It is chilling to see the precision of the Nazis in administering death – an inhuman bureaucracy devoid of emotion. The archive gives us the opportunity to remember history, even as the number of eyewitnesses dwindles. My visit was meaningful and the experience will stay with me.”