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Chairman of the International Commission on Visit to Arolsen

The Chairman of the International Commission and Director of the Archives in the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Frédéric Baleine du Laurens, spent a two-day visit at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen in mid-August. The Commission works out the guidelines governing the ITS mandate and is currently negotiating the institution’s future with its eleven member states. “If one considers that the negotiations are in the final stage now”, said du Laurens, “France has assumed responsibility for chairing the Commission at a remarkable moment in the history of the institution.”  

The new agreements will also formally extend the ITS tasks by research, archival description and remembrance work and determine the role of the German Federal Archives as the future institutional partner of ITS. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will withdraw from the management of the ITS late in 2012. The Commission sees to a joint task and fulfils it in a spirit of mutuality, stressed du Laurens.  

France’s objectives for the presidency until spring 2012 would be to achieve the successful completion of the negotiations and preparations undertaken to obtain inclusion of the ITS collections in the UNESCO program “Memory of the World”. “We hope that a decision will be taken on that in 2013”, stated du Laurens. “The documents of the ITS are unique and must be preserved for the world’s memory.”

Du Laurens was impressed with the motivation of the ITS staff. “I witnessed the excellent work done by the ITS and could convince myself that the service merits the full support of the Commission members. It is not an ordinary task that is accomplished here. After all, it is rooted in grave historical events.” The information the ITS supplies is of significance for many people in the world, added du Larens. “As I had kept myself up-to-date on the ITS work, nothing here has come to me as a surprise. But seeing the institution with one’s own eyes does make a difference.”