Welcome to the ITS “Digital Collections Online”
The International Tracing Service (ITS) is a center for the documentation of National Socialist persecution and the liberated survivors. It was founded as a tracing service immediately after World War II to help reunite survivors with their families and clarify the fates of those murdered and those missing. Today, the ITS is also an archive and open for research. In the future, parts of its archived collections will be made accessible to the interested public on this portal, thereby broadening the knowledge of these unique documents and the research potential associated with them. At the same time, by way of the comment function, we would like to encourage exchange about the collections – not only among users, but also between users and the ITS archive. The ITS is working on making even more collections available on the portal in the future, along with the most comprehensive possible research functions. The portal, it should be added, is no substitute for a direct visit to the ITS archives in Bad Arolsen. We welcome your comments about this portal so that we can continue to improve our service. (E-Mail)
The use of the portal is free of charge; donations are always welcome!
About the ITS Holdings
The ITS Archive preserves one of the largest collections worldwide on the history of the Holocaust and the National Socialist concentration camps, on Nazi forced labor and on so-called displaced persons. The holdings contain original documents on the registration and care of the survivors after 1945, as well as documents the Allied forces were able to secure when they liberated the concentration camps, for example prisoner identity cards from the Buchenwald and Dachau camps. Correspondence with survivors of Nazi persecution and their families, conducted as part of the process of clarifying their fates, constitutes another part of the holdings. Finally, the ITS stores numerous copies or microfilms of documents from other archives or public institutions, which it collected in order to meet its own tracing responsibilities. In June 2013, the ITS’s original collections were added to the UNESCO “Memory of the World” registry.
In selecting the archival material for this portal, we consider not only the potential interests of researchers, but also the degree of indexing as well as data protection issues. We did not include collections composed either in part or in whole of copies from other archives, or those subject to personal protection laws. A complete inventory of the ITS’s archival collections and other indexing information (the digital copies themselves are not available) can be found here as well as on the portal of the „European Holocaust Research Infrastructure“ (EHRI). The finding aids published on the two websites, however, adhere to a structure different from the one chosen for the publication on this portal. That is because archival indexing geared towards the interests of historical research has only recently become one of the ITS’s priorities.
Moreover, provenances customary in archives have been re-organized, and documents grouped according to pertinence. Whereas the finding aids reflect the original provenances, in this portal, for technical reasons, the system by which the documents are actually organized in the ITS archive has been retained.
Here, too, the reconfigured collections are not indexed according to uniform criteria and are thus displayed in different ways. This explains the differing research criteria: the personal effects sorted alphabetically according to owner's name, can be searched not only via personal name but also via date of birth; the death march collections on the other hand, can be researched according to place names and by way of a geographical map. Research in the children’s tracing service, to cite yet another example, is carried out in keeping with the file structure. Each collection is accompanied by an introductory text explaining the origins of the respective documents.
Information on the citation rule
If you choose to cite documents from this portal, please follow the rules established for the digital collections and found here. In this portal, the digital document identifier necessary for citations is a number appearing in brackets following the serial document number.