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NIOD Strives for Access to ITS Data

On a two-day visit in mid-October, Annemieke van Bockxmeer, Petra Links and Tim Veken from the National Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) viewed the documentary holdings and database of the International Tracing Service (ITS). The institute is interested in having access to the digital database of the ITS. “As the appraisal and re-appraisal of World War II and Nazi persecution have deepened in the Netherlands, numerous books on the topic are being put on the market, and our research department continues to grow,” relates archivist van Bockxmeer.  

Links feels sure that the documents from the ITS archive will be of significance for historical research in the Netherlands. “I have been impressed by their amplitude and variedness. Aside from list material, you will find witness statements or files pertaining to the Nazis’ administrative machinery. The documents will match well to, will complete our collection.” Two days are too short a time, though, to allow a deeper insight into the files, concedes van Bockxmeer. “We have come to realize that there is much to learn and to dis-cover still.”

Every single one of the eleven member states of the International Commission whose mandate is to supervise the activities of the tracing service has the option of receiving a digital copy of the ITS documentary holdings. So have the Netherlands as part of this circle of states. The fact that NIOD integrates into its institute the centre for studies on Holocaust and genocide in December is “another argument for the pre-eminent relevance the ITS documents have for us”, said van Bockxmeer. “With things being still at the planning stage, we have not yet lodged any concrete application for access, though.”

The Dutch prioritise having external access to the digital database over receiving a physical copy of the ITS data. “In view of the abundance of information, it makes sense to use the technology at hand”, explains IT expert Tim Veken. As regards the practical use they will make of the digital archives, the three NIOD professionals do not foresee any difficulties with privacy protection guidelines. “We have the same rules,” is van Bockxmeer’s laconic response.