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Online-Finding Aid on Nazi-Camp history

In May 2016, the International Tracing Service (ITS) published on the EHRI portal an index that had been built up between the years 1970 and 1982 and which had served primarily as a search tool for the ITS staff members. The German Research Society (DFG) provided support for the preparation of the information as an online finding tool for users today. 

Reference information about documents on concentration and extermination camps, ghettos, as well as other camps similar to concentration camps in Nazi Germany form the contents of a new Finding Tool, with which the ITS facilitates access to its significant collections. Researchers and others interested now have the opportunity to get information about this ITS document holding by way of the portal of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI).

EHRI pursues the task of providing Holocaust research with a broader foundation through more knowledge about sources and archival collections. Included in the documents described in the ITS Finding Tool are papers that had been created by Nazi authorities and organizations, among them decrees and orders of the Reich Main Security Administration as well as general orders and instructions out of individual concentration camps. Additionally there are documents that were requisitioned by the Allies and humanitarian organizations. These involve, for example, reports about the conditions in the prisons and the fates of witnesses. For this reason, the Finding Tool refers to the period of time from 1933 to 1979. As with other collections of the ITS, the documents in question also include copies from holdings of other institutions, such as the German Federal Archive and the Institute for Contemporary History. The ITS systematically integrated copies from other holdings into its archive in order to better serve as a central office for information on the fates of victims of Nazi persecution.

In the case of the Finding Tool now published online, this is an index that was created between 1970 and 1982 by the ITS primarily as a support mechanism for the in-house working procedures. Because of the tracing activity of the ITS and the compiling of information at the level of individual sheets of paper necessitated by that, the finding tool goes somewhat beyond classic archival description and offers more in-depth reference to the content of the documents. The preparatory work necessary for the online placement - a so-called retro-conversion – was supported by the DFG and has been carried out since 2014. The publication of its own existing Finding Tools is one of the many measures the ITS is implementing, step by step, to facilitate access to this significant Archive and World Cultural Heritage.