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Germany: ICRC hands over management of International Tracing Service

29-11-2012 News Release 12/230

Geneva (ICRC) –The ICRC is to withdraw from the management of the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen after over half a century. The ITS was founded in 1943 to provide answers to millions of families who had lost touch with relatives during the Second World War.

Speaking at the ITS on 29 November, ICRC president Peter Maurer explained that "The ICRC is handing over management of the ITS, but we’re not leaving it." He stressed that the ICRC would remain in regular contact with the ITS, through its Central Tracing Agency in Geneva, tracing agencies in ICRC delegations, and the tracing services of national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world. The ICRC will continue to provide its technical expertise, helping the ITS serve the victims of Nazi persecution and their families.

“The ITS strives to be of service to people,” Maurer added. “Yes, it possesses archives, but those archives reflect human beings and the unthinkable suffering of so many millions during the Second World War and beyond.”

Indeed, the archives cover civilians detained in Nazi concentration or labour camps and people who had to flee their homes because of the Second World War. They house over 50 million card files relating to more than 17.5 million civilians persecuted by the Nazis.

Ever since its creation, the ITS has been governed by the 11-nation International Commission for the International Tracing Service (ICITS) under the 1955 Bonn Agreement and its 2006 Protocols. The following countries are members of the Commission: Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Since 1955, the ICRC has managed the ITS on behalf of the ICITS, as a neutral and independent supervisory body.

The mission of the ITS has now extended beyond purely humanitarian work to englobe research. As of 1 January 2013, the German Federal Archives (Bundesarchiv) will become its new institutional partner. The International Commission has appointed a new director, history professor Rebecca Boehling, who will continue and develop the work of the past five decades.

For further information, please contact:

Anastasia Isyuk, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 3023, or +41 79 251 9302
Marie-Claire Feghali, ICRC Geneva, tel: + 41 22 730 2578, or + 41 79 244 64 63
Kathrin Flor, ITS, tel: +49 5691 629-116


Photos

In 1947, the International Refugee Organization took over administration of the bureau, and in 1948 it acquired the name by which it has been known ever since – the International Tracing Service (ITS). In April 1951, responsibility passed to the Allied High Commission for Germany, and when Germany officially ceased to be an occupied country in 1954, it was the ICRC that was entrusted with the management of the service. 

In 1947, the International Refugee Organization took over administration of the bureau, and in 1948 it acquired the name by which it has been known ever since – the International Tracing Service (ITS). In April 1951, responsibility passed to the Allied High Commission for Germany, and when Germany officially ceased to be an occupied country in 1954, it was the ICRC that was entrusted with the management of the service.
© ITS