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We support research

Shown: Scholars doing research in the ITS databank

Scholars doing research in the ITS databank

Since November 2007 the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) have been open for research. A team of staff members can answer scholarly questions and can help researchers on-site.


  • On-site, Online or on Request

    For research projects it is often advisable to spend some time at ITS in Bad Arolsen. Staff members are available to help in preparing for research by answering questions regarding subject matter and can provide information on the collections. The ITS also supports young scholars when they are working on special school projects. Doing research as a group is also possible.

    Copies of the digitized ITS collections are available worldwide at a number of partner institutions.

    Since October 2015 the first sub-collections have also been available as digital ITS collections for research on the internet.

    When it has to do with smaller archive inquiries, for example about individuals, our staff members will be happy to research for you and, for a standardized fee, can provide you with information by mail.

  • Who Can Do Research at ITS?

    Anyone is invited to come to Bad Arolsen and do research on-site at the ITS for his or her projects. In most cases, the researchers are:

    • Scholars from universities, academic fields, memorial sites, museums
    • Doctoral students and students in upper semesters
    • Interested persons from memorial initiatives and other civil society groups
    • Representatives of minority groups
    • Archivists
    • Regional and local historians
  • How Is Research Done On-site?

    In 1988 the ITS began with the work of digitizing the documents in its archives, so that today approx. 85% of the holdings can be viewed in the databank. Researchers can read through the ITS databank on PCs in the reading rooms. Before starting, the visitor receives an introduction on working with the databank and the available methods for research.  The ITS staff members can give tips regarding the databank and are happy to answer questions. Naturally those collections not yet digitized can also be used for research. For this, additional preparation time should be planned for.     

    Digitally available documents can be stored for project purposes free of charge on a USB-stick. To safeguard against viruses, the media carrier must be obtained from the ITS.

    • Information on the fees for high-resolution scans and research requests can be found in the Fee Regulations.
    • Details on the use of the ITS documents are found in the Terms for Use.
  • What you Need to Know about the Research Possibilities

    For many years the ITS had been a tracing office and contact point for survivors and family members of victims of Nazi persecution. The collections of the ITS were organized to help carry out these original tasks. Their value lay in the clarification of individual fates. The search for names was thus given highest priority, which is reflected in the databank developed exclusively for the needs of the ITS. It is only relatively recently, since 2007, that the ITS is managed as a scholarly archive as well. For this reason, the archival description of the ITS holdings is not as advanced as could be expected in terms of research needs. Gradually, individual collections will be given more precise, in-depth descriptions, thus improving the topic and key-word search. Due to the vast size of the holdings in the archive, however, this process of in-depth description will take many more years.

    A special characteristic has arisen from this: the documents were not sorted according to provenance, as is customary in archival tradition, but rather according to subject, and stored chronologically according to the date of acquisition.

    Those are the reasons why close contact between researchers and the team of the research branch is so important. The staff members are very familiar with the holdings and can give tips on which research methods would prove most successful or which collections are more relevant for which research topics. Moreover, there are a number of collections available in the ITS archive that have not yet been digitized, as well as numerous support tools, created by the ITS, such as index cards on place names, camps or specific topics.

You can visit the ITS and do research in the digital archives. Anyone interested can register and work on his or her research projects at the computer stations in the reading rooms.