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50 visits to the ITS

Christian Alexander Waldner from the Leibniz University in Hanover.

This week, Christian Alexander Waldner visited the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen for the fiftieth time. "I have already researched for several projects in the ITS archives," says the historian. "Currently, I’m planning a multi media table for an exhibition at the Memorial Ahlem that shall present the different places of Nazi persecution in the district of Hanover." For this project, Waldner is going through the digitized ITS Central Name Index which has recently been added to the UNESCO "Memory of the World” registry.

The focus of Waldner’s visit this time is to do research on the individual lives of forced laborers. Apart from the name cards, he therefore also studies the lists from the local health insurance company that registered forced laborers. "With my work, I want to show that forced laborers were actually used for work in every place and community, and that saying ‘We have not heard anything’ cannot be right," explains the 43-year-old.

During his research, he was able to gain some insights. "It is striking that often whole families were deported together," remarks the academic staff member of the Leibniz University Hannover. However, at this point he is not willing to reveal more since he first wants to finish his dissertation on "Forced Labor in Colleges and Universities during National Socialism."

On his first visit in 2008, he traced the fates of persecuted homosexuals. Together with Rainer Hoffschildt, he travelled to Arolsen to collect information for the Gay and Lesbian Archives Hannover (SARCH). SARCH was created by the gay activist Hoffschildt. The private collection provides material for the homosexual movement and other interested parties. The thematic focus is on the history of homosexuals and in determining the fate of homosexual victims of Nazi terror.