January 17, 2008
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum announced today that it is ready to begin providing information to Holocaust survivors and their families from the International Tracing Service (ITS) archive. The archive, located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, was the largest closed Holocaust archive in the world. It contains information on approximately 17.5 million victims of Nazism, both Jews and non-Jews, and survivors have long sought information from the collection. The Museum led a years-long effort to open the archive, that succeeded on November 28, 2007, when the 11 nations of the ITS governing board ratified the agreement opening the collection.
“This moment is a wonderful victory for survivors, although long overdue,” said Museum Director Sara J Bloomfield. “But the significance of ITS extends far beyond the survivor generation. With an increase in Holocaust denial and minimization, the evidence in this massive archive will serve as an authentic witness to the scope of the crimes of the Holocaust for many generations to come.”
The Museum is committed to getting accurate, complete information from the massive collection to Holocaust survivors as quickly as possible. The archive consists of 100 million images of documentation, and is not machine searchable. To address this, the Museum has invested in expanding its research staff and in developing new software and searching systems to allow trained researchers to locate materials in the collection.
Researchers from the Museum’s Benjamin and Vladka Meed Registry of Holocaust Survivors will search the collection for Holocaust survivors who are seeking information on themselves or their loved ones. Survivors may submit requests via email, regular mail or fax. The Museum has established a toll-free number to answer survivor inquiries and will provide copies of relevant documentation to survivors at no cost. As with all of its archival holdings, anyone can visit the Museum and access the material.
The archive also promises to be of enormous importance for scholars, who, until now, have never had access to this material. Its acquisition will double the size of the Museum’s archival collection. The ITS material will be transferred in a series of installments, the first of which arrived in August 2007. The last section is expected to arrive in 2010.
More information on the ITS collection can be found on the Museum’s Web site, www.ushmm.org/its or by calling 866-912-4385.
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.