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History of the ITS in Focus

US-American historians Jennifer Rodgers and Charles Sharpe spent a few days at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in mid-March doing research for their dissertations. Both reviewed and copied numerous documents on the topics of the history of the ITS and UNRRA – the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. “We´re returning to the States with a lot of information,” said the doctoral candidates.

Rodgers, who first learned about the International Tracing Service as a staff member of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, wants to illuminate the ITS´s history. “There are still no scientific papers on it,” reports the University of Pennsylvania doctoral student. “I´ve known about the ITS since the opening of the archives in November 2007, and my work is just beginning. I will probably return to Arolsen in the summer.” Her dissertation focuses on the changing functions of the ITS between 1943 and 2006. It also examines how Germans have dealt with their history, effects of the Cold War and the culture of remembrance.

Sharpe concentrated on the UNRRA during his 5-day visit to Bad Arolsen. The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration was an aid organization founded during the Second World War on November 9, 1943 by the USA, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and China. It ceased European operations on December 31, 1946, when the UN took over its functions after the war.

Sharpe was enthusiastic about the breadth of documents available on the aid organization at the ITS. Among them is UNRRA correspondence and records on displaced persons. “I saw many documents which I will take time to analyze back in the USA,” said the historian. Before his studies, Sharpe worked for the UN and has a special interest in this aspect of history. “I followed the opening of the ITS archive in the American newspapers and I´m returning home with interesting impressions.”

Rodgers is sure that there are many topics regarding the Second World War still to be researched at the ITS. “I can recommend a visit.”