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ITS and USHMM carry out joint workshop for researchers

Over a period of three days, fifteen researchers from Germany and Austria acquainted themselves with the ITS archive. The students and doctoral candidates will use the results of their research for their master's and doctor’s theses. The workshop, which took place from October 10 to 12, 2017, was organized by the International Tracing Service (ITS) in collaboration with the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM).

Entitled "Introduction to the archival holdings of the International Tracing Service (ITS) and to research in the ITS Digital Archive," the workshop addressed students and doctoral students from various humanities disciplines, and as a result there was a wide variety of topics and interests. The focus was on the historical collection of the ITS, which encompasses more than thirty million documents on National Socialist persecution and its impact. After an introduction to the history of the ITS and its archival holdings, the participants were given an overview of the possibilities for research in the digital archive and the special library as well as the various opportunities offered by the Mandel Center and the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) project. 

Another element of the program was the participants’ lively mutual exchange of research results for their projects. Paula Oppermann, for example, is currently doing research for her dissertation on "Key Figures in Latvian Collaboration During World War II" at the University of Glasgow. In the ITS archive, she concentrated primarily on documents from the camps for displaced persons. “I found the statements made by collaborators to the Allies particularly interesting," the doctoral student recalls. “They didn’t tell lies, but it was certainly an interesting interpretation of the events." The support and research possibilities at the ITS were wonderful,” she added. “I haven't exhausted everything yet. Another visit to the ITS archive will be worthwhile."

Philipp Dinkelaker is planning a dissertation on "Dealing with Jewish ‘Collaborators' in the German Post-War Period" at the Berlin Research Centre on Anti-Semitism, with a focus on the honorary courts and criminal proceedings. “The high moral standards associated with the term ‘victim’ after 1945 was not always consistent with the reality of the Shoah," Dinkelaker explained. And not only people’s life stories during the war, but also their behavior after it had ended was judged. The act of smuggling a package of cigarettes, for example, was enough to lose the right to compensation. The ITS archive is very helpful for my research," said the doctoral candidate. "I've heard some researchers raving about the fact that you can take the search results with you directly on a USB stick.”

Henning Borggräfe (ITS) and Betsy Anthony (USHMM) were very pleased with how the workshop had gone, and with the enthusiastic participation of those attending. The two institutions plan to carry out the workshop again next year.