December 09, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C.–The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum applauds the signing of a new agreement governing the International Tracing Service (ITS). The agreement, signed today in Berlin by representatives of the 11-state International Commission overseeing the ITS, will make the archive’s records more accessible to Holocaust survivors and their families, improve the organization’s management structure and expand its mission to facilitate Holocaust education and scholarship. The new agreement will come into force after approval procedures are completed by each of the 11 member states of the International Commission.
“The Museum led the effort to open the ITS archive and continues work to ensure the information contained in it is available to Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as to scholars and educators,” said Paul Shapiro, Director of the Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. “Working together with the State Department and its Office of Holocaust Issues, we strongly pursued aspects of this new agreement which provide for broader access to the collections, including via remote access to the scanned copies of the records that are currently being made.”
As the scanning process progresses, copies of the archive are already being made available for research at ITS in Bad Arolsen and at national repositories in states on the International Commission. The new agreement also allows for the distribution of further copies of the collection, with the approval of the International Commission. The Museum is the United States’ national repository for the collection.
Since December 2007, the Museum has responded to almost 13,500 requests from 67 countries--the vast majority coming from Holocaust survivors or their family members--for information from the ITS archives. Additionally, since 2008, the Museum has organized or co-organized four academic seminars on the ITS records to facilitate scholarship on the archive’s contents. Sixty-eight researchers and advanced university students from more than 60 institutions in North America, Europe and Israel have taken part in the seminars.
More information about the Museum’s archival materials, including the ITS records, and how to request information from them can be found at www.ushmm.org/research/collections/resourcecenter.
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.