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A great service to research on this era

British historian Sir Ian Kershaw, a distinguished expert on 20th-century German history, conducted research at the ITS in 2009 for his book “The end: Hitler’s Germany, 1944–45". At the time, he said: "I was aware of the existence of the Tracing Service, however, the ITS had never been an archive in this sense, nor had it been open to research. The documents held in this archive are unbelievable. I thought it only had personal files, but there are also many administrative records." A friend from Israel had informed him that it was possible to visit the archive.

Kershaw sees great potential for the ITS today in making digitized documents available online to researchers. Here are his three answers to our questions regarding the opening of the archives.

How was the permanent reopening of the ITS archive important to research at the end of 2007?

Making available such a vast corpus of archival material especially on displaced persons, the situation in Germany immediately before and after the end of the Second World War, and the work of UNRRA was a great service to research on this era.

In 2009, you visited the ITS and gained an overview of the holdings. Which of the holdings do you consider to be of outstanding importance?

The reports on the Death Marches and on concentration camps in the final phase of the War were of particular importance to my own research.

What do you think about gradually making the documents available on the internet?

I'm sure that this would be highly beneficial and would extend the range of researchers who would use the ITS resources.