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Commissioner for Culture Grütters visits the ITS

Monika Grütters, the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, visited the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen on Monday to learn about its work and gain an insight into its extensive archive. The archive holds around 30 million documents relating to Nazi persecution, forced labor and the fates of survivors. Since 2013, these documents have been listed in the UNESCO Memory of the World register. One of the primary concerns of the ITS is to facilitate access to its archives worldwide. “The International Tracing Service is an important component of memory culture and a unique archive,” Grütters said. “It is both our responsibility and our duty to the millions of victims of the Nazi regime to preserve these authentic testimonies and ensure that this important documentary heritage is handled responsibly.”

The commissioner emphasized the value of the archive for exposing Nazi crimes. “It vividly documents both the scope and systematic nature of the Nazis’ crimes while simultaneously providing a very personal insight into the fates of individuals. The documents give back to the deceased the identities that the Nazis wanted to take from them. The papers reveal the first steps taken to resume life after survival,” Monika Grütters said.

ITS Director Floriane Hohenberg and Paul Dostert, chairman of the International Commission that sets out the guidelines for the work of the ITS, talked with the commissioner about how the ITS aims to make its documents available to even more people around the world for research and education, as well as personal exploration. “The new ITS Online Archive is a window onto the ITS collection on the web. We want to open this window even wider, because the value of the archive grows with the number of people using it,” said Hohenberg, explaining the main goal of the ITS for the coming years.

The Director described the ITS as an institution that is changing, and one which hopes to raise its international profile through intensified networking, while continuing to preserve and digitize its valuable documents in Bad Arolsen. “We are pleased that the federal government is supporting us in our mission through the construction of an urgently needed new archive building,” Hohenberg said. The building will include an exhibition room which conveys to visitors the uniqueness of this documentary heritage.

The ITS is funded by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. In 2016, it received a grant of around 14 million euros.