International Tracing Service Archive
: "To learn more about the years-long effort to open the International Tracing Service (ITS), the largest closed Holocaust archive in the world, explore the links on this page."D.C., Jerusalem Museums Given Huge Nazi Archive - washingtonpost.com
"The keepers of a Nazi archive have delivered copies of Gestapo papers and concentration camp records to museums in Washington and Jerusalem
, providing Holocaust survivors a paper trail of their own persecution.
Six computer hard drives bearing electronic images of 20 million pages arrived late Monday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum here and the Yad Vashem Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem.
Last week, the director of the International Tracing Service, custodian of the unique collection that has been locked away in Germany for a half century, released the files for transfer to the two museums.
But it will be months before the archive can be used to search family histories. Even after it opens to the public, navigating the vast files for specific names will be nearly impossible without a trained guide."Museum | Press Room | Press Room Archive
WASHINGTON, D.C. — All 11 countries overseeing the International Tracing Service (ITS) archive located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, have ratified the agreement that officially opens the massive Holocaust archive. This marks the conclusion of a long diplomatic process led by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to open this archive to help survivors and their families obtain information about their loved ones.
The Museum, the American repository for the archive, is in the process of receiving a complete digital copy of the archive and is working to make the documentation accessible in January 2008, so that it can begin responding to survivor requests for information. The archive is being transferred in installments, and the Museum expects to have a complete copy of the material by 2010.
"This is a significant milestone in the long process of helping Holocaust survivors finally learn the fates of their loved ones," says Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. "The Museum undertook this enormous task on behalf of survivors and their families, and we are committed to quickly getting them this long overdue information."
The ITS archive contains more than 100 million images of material relating to the fates of approximately 17.5 million people—both Jews and non-Jews—who perished in the Holocaust or who otherwise fell victim to the Nazi regime. In August 2007, the Museum received the first installment of material, containing 18 million images of arrest, camp, prison, ghetto and transport records, and the Central Name Index (the primary finding aid for the collection) arrived in November. The remainder of the collection, relating to slave labor and displaced persons camps, will be transferred in installments between 2008 and 2010.
The Museum is investing in the hardware, software and personnel to make this mass of electronic documentation—in more than 25 languages, much of it hand-written—accessible. In addition to building new systems to access the collection, Museum staff members have received weeks of intensive training at the ITS facility in Germany to familiarize themselves with the collection.
The Museum will announce through its Web site and the media when it can begin responding to survivor requests for information. Beginning Monday, December 3, survivors can submit requests to the Museum via the Museum's Web site, www.ushmm.org/its, or by calling the Benjamin and Vladka Meed Registry of Holocaust Survivors toll-free at 866-912-4385.
Together with ITS, the Museum has created an inventory of the more than 21,000 separate collections of material that are contained in the ITS archive. The inventory provides brief descriptions of the collections at ITS that will help users understand the kinds of records that are—and are not—contained in the archive. It does not list the names of individuals found in the archive, nor can it access individual documents in the collection.
For more information on the ITS collection and its availability, please visit the Museum's Web site, www.ushmm.org/its.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was created to inspire leaders and citizens to confront hatred, prevent genocide, promote human dignity and strengthen democracy. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanence, and donors nationwide make possible its educational activities and global outreach. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org. ###
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