a A

Belgium Receives Digital Copies of ITS Documents

Yesterday, the National Archives of Belgium (Archives Générales du Royaume) in Brussels received data copies from the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. Following Israel, the US, Poland and Luxembourg, Belgium is now also making use of the extensive documentary holdings on Nazi persecution. In accordance with the resolution by the International Commission responsible for overseeing the work of ITS, all eleven member states are entitled to digital copies of the documents archived in Bad Arolsen.

“The files in the ITS archive convey a detailed picture of the dimension of Nazi persecution,” said ITS Director Jean-Luc Blondel. “They also include documents on the repression of the resistance in Belgium, the exploitation of Belgian slave labourers and the persecution of Jews and other minorities.” With the data transfer to Brussels, research can now also profit from these files at the National Archives of Belgium. The Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw and the Documentation and Research Centre on the Resistance in Luxembourg already work with document scans from the ITS archive. “The digital copy of the ITS files is a relevant integral part of our archives now”, said Karel Velle, Head of the Belgian Archives. “We will preserve the documents which are of major importance for the history of our society and open them to a wide public within a few months.”

Up until now around 80 million images and roughly six terabytes of data have been handed over to these institutions, including documents on concentration camps, ghettos and prisons (ca. 18 million images), the ITS central name index (ca. 42 million images), registration cards of displaced persons (ca. 7 million images), and documents concerning forced labour (ca. 13 million images). The remaining documents on DPs and emigration are presently being scanned. The files of the children’s tracing service as well as the so-called general documents and the correspondence between ITS and victims and their family members will follow.