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“A Long Overdue Step“

In an interview, Rikola-Gunnar Lüttgenau from the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation talks about the cooperation with the International Tracing Service (ITS) from the perspective of the memorials of former concentration camps. This interview is the last one of the series of interviews conducted on the occasion of the opening of the ITS archive ten years ago.

How was the opening of the ITS archive important for the memorial sites?

For many memorials of former concentration camps, the administrative files of the SS are the key source of information in order to grasp and explore the scale of persecutions and their dynamics. In this regard, the opening of the ITS archives was a long overdue step in order to provide an in-depth idea of the sheer scope of Nazi crimes.

Once again, in the summer of 2017, you received digital copies of documents relating to Buchenwald concentration camp including the respective metadata. How will you use the data and how will this change the way you work with ITS documents?

With the indexing of the documents by means of metadata, we are able to provide swift information to the many relatives who visit the sites of their family members' suffering in Buchenwald. This is of great value for our everyday work. In the future, it will furthermore be possible to reconstruct in detail and to better understand the Nazi persecution practice against different groups of victims.

How has the ITS changed over the last ten years?

Undoubtedly: from an authority which frequently rejected people who wanted to investigate the persecution history of National Socialism, the ITS is now transforming into an institution which invites and supports people.