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Koop: “ITS is the Institution to approach for a General Overview“

The well-known journalist and publicist Volker Koop sifted through the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) late in September gathering material for his new book project on the so-called “Sonder- und Ehrenhäftlinge” (special inmates and prisoners of honour) of the concentration camps. The high-ranking hostages of the Nazi regime included politicians, officers, priests and prominent figures from 17 nations, among them statesmen like the former French Prime Minister Léon Blum and members of the Stauffenberg family. Koop summarised the success he had had with his research and the impression he had gained of the ITS archives as follows:

“Given the fact that there is no German ‘central archive’ on the Nazi era, but the pertinent archival material is scattered among the main, state and regional archives within Federal Germany, with complex archival holdings having even been torn apart, ITS is the institution to turn to if one wishes to obtain a general overview on all documents still preserved. This does not only apply to victims-oriented subjects, but – considering the volume of the holdings – also to related themes. In my view, it is most significant for research that the Allies themselves laid the foundation for a full documentation on the Nazi regime, and that ITS added to that, continuously completing its own holdings with documentary material from other archives.

ITS has proved helpful to my research on the subject of ‘Ehren- und Sonderhäftlinge’ (special inmates and prisoners of honour) in so far as I managed to find documents – for instance on the outlying concentration camp command of caste Itter or on the Königstein fortress, but also on individuals. It is possible that these documents no longer exist in their archives of origin or, at least, are no longer listed in their finding aids.

The progress achieved in digitising, indexing and describing the documents by means of keyword registers is considerable. Though its archives were opened to research only two years ago, ITS already lives up to the new task. Maybe the archive is suffering from the fact that ITS – just as the “Birthler office” (the Stasi archive) – is not yet as well-known a research site among historians as would be appropriate considering its importance. I am firmly convinced that this is going to change.”