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International tracing Service: new director takes over

19-12-2008 News Release 08/245

ITS (Bad Arolsen) / ICRC (Geneva) – The outgoing director of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, Reto Meister, handed over official business to his successor Jean-Luc Blondel at the organization’s year-end ceremony yesterday.

From January 2009, Mr. Blondel, a Swiss delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), will be the new director of ITS. “In view of the archive’s thematic focus, running ITS represents a unique responsibility,” says Mr. Blondel.

Mr. Blondel had already served as the interim director of ITS for three months in autumn 2006 and is familiar with the facility, its objectives and its staff. “I’m pleased about the significant changes that have taken place here since the archive was opened up. This transformation testifies to the transparency and successful reorientation of ITS,” elements on which Mr. Blondel intends to build. He also views the debate currently being led by the International Commission on the Service’s future as another central task. The commission consists of 11 member states and oversees the work of ITS.

Mr. Blondel has worked in a number of different countries for the ICRC since 1982, including Israel. In his most recent position, he served as a personal adviser to the president of the ICRC, Jakob Kellenberger. Under the framework of the Bonn Agreements concerning the ITS, the ICRC took over the management and administration of ITS in 1955 as a neutral institution. Pursuant to the agreements, the ICRC always appoints a Swiss national as director.

Outgoing ITS director Reto Meister accepted a new position at ICRC headquarters. He had become director at Bad Arolsen in December 2006 and spurred on the process of opening up the archive to the public. “I am honoured to have served at the ITS. Working with the staff here was a pleasure and the contact I had with victims of the Nazi regime, Holocaust survivors and historians was a sourc e of strength and inspiration.”

About the International Tracing Service  

The International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen serves victims of Nazi persecutions and their families by documenting their fate through the archives it manages. ITS preserves these historic records and makes them available for research.

The International Tracing Service is governed by an International Commission comprised of eleven member states (Belgium, Germany, France, Greece, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Poland, USA) under the Bonn Agreements of 1955 and the amendment protocol from 2006. It is managed on behalf of the International Commission by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). ITS currently has a staff of around 300 employees.

For further information, please contact:
  Kathrin Flor, ITS Bad Arolsen, +49 (0)170 900 84 95
  Simon Schorno, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 2426 or +41 79 251 9302
  or visit the ITS website