„Finally in the minds of the local population“
In January 1946, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) Central Tracing Bureau moved to Arolsen in North Hesse. Two years later, it was given its current name "International Tracing Service" (ITS). The opening of the archive ten years ago also had an impact on the town and its citizens. Today, there are cooperation projects with local schools as well as events organized by the ITS, sometimes also in cooperation with other institutions. The extension of the mandate to include education made all this possible. For this reason the mayor of Bad Arolsen, Jürgen van der Horst, feels that today, the local population identifies with this institution, which has been based in Bad Arolsen for so many years. In the following interview, he explains what has changed.
What changes occurred in Bad Arolsen as a consequence of the final re-opening of the archive?
With the opening of the archive and thanks to intensive public relations work, the ITS has reached the people of Bad Arolsen. In previous decades, the responsibilities of the ITS and the historical importance of the document collection were only known to those working in this field. In my opinion, the people of Bad Arolsen identify much more with the ITS than they might have done in the past.
Has the complete opening of the archive also changed the way the town of Bad Arolsen is perceived? And the way the citizens of Arolsen view the ITS?
As a result of the opening of the ITS archive, Bad Arolsen has grown considerably more "international". It has been mentioned ever more frequently in connection with other globally important institutions, such as Yad Vashem in Israel, also as a consequence of the inclusion of the ITS's document collection into UNESCO's "Memory of the World" programme. This has led to a significant increase of interest in Bad Arolsen in other countries and has attracted a completely new audience to the former residence town. At the same time, the ITS is now much more present in the minds of Bad Arolsen's citizens. This is clearly illustrated by the widespread interest of politicians and local society in the planned new building of the archive building.