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Workshop of the Foundation of Memorial Sites in Lower Saxony

The Foundation of memorial sites in Lower Saxony organised a three-day workshop at the International Tracing Service (ITS) late in April. The aim of the workshop was to familiarize the staff of the memorial sites in Lower Saxony with the archival holdings of the ITS and to show them the collection’s research potential. “The workshop was fruitful. For most of our staff it was the first contact and experience with the archives,“ said Rolf Keller from the Foundation who had prepared the event together with his colleague Marlis Buchholz.

Altogether ten employees from seven memorial sites based in Lower Saxony had a look at documentary material either from prisons or concentration camps depending on the focus of their respective memorial site. They worked directly in the archival rooms for one day, then spent two other days exploring the computer database. “Our goal was to take a first overview of the collections. Most of us will come a second time for doing in-depth research,“ said Keller.

In preparation for the visit, the memorial site staff had studied ITS’ inventory register on the Internet. “At site, however, you can find much more, especially if assisted by ITS staff,“ Keller reported. “It is essential, however, to change one’s ideas, because the ITS is not an archive in the classical sense. The documents are accessible by names and not by provenance as is the case in other archives. It is a bit confusing.” The colleagues had discovered documents on individual fates they had not known of before. “At the same time, we were relieved that there are no new findings for instance regarding the non-personal documents. We have come to judge much better now what the ITS archives offer us.“

Buchholz assured that the interest among the staff of memorial sites and private initiatives doing memorial work is huge. “That is why we would like to invite some more groups to workshops.“ The workshop may also prove useful for the work at the documentation center of the Foundation in Celle. “We can give better guidance to our colleagues now as to which issues they can explore in Bad Arolsen and which not.“