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Bamberg students visit archive

32 University of Bamberg students toured the International Tracing Service (ITS) archive in Bad Arolsen today to learn about opportunities in research and archive administration. “The opening of the archive was a stroke of good luck for research and therefore also for universities,” said Horst Gehringer, excursion leader, guest lecturer and head of the State Archives in Coburg and Professor Andreas Dornheim.

Professor Dornheim, whose research focuses on forced labour under the Nazis, was surprised at the breadth of documents at the ITS. “Frankly, I had no conception of it,” said the historian. “Collaborating on future research projects will be worthwhile.” The city of Bamberg has commissioned a research contract concerning the cotton mill factory ERBA Erlangen/Bamberg. It is known that 500 foreign nationals were made to do forced labour there between 1942 and 1945. “There is surely information about them in the archive,” guessed the historian. “The visit to the ITS paid off for the students, as the tour has given them an idea of the research options available there.”

Archive head Gehringer from Coburg had his first experience with the Tracing Service 15 years ago. “At that time, registration cards were microfilmed by ITS staff at the Coburg State Archives,” he remembers. “I´m impressed by the ITS´s written records and their digitization efforts. The ITS is far ahead of other archives.” The ITS is not yet an archive in the classical sense. “However, I am pleased about the efforts of making the documents accessible that are supported by the IT. It will be of major importance for research.”

Student Christine Raith sees an important responsibility for the future. “The next generation wants to understand what happened back then. That´s why making the documents accessible above and beyond the names of victims is so important,” said the 25 year-old.