International Tracing Service Digital Archive
In December 2011, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office deposited the UK's digital copy of the International Tracing Service Archive at The Wiener Library. This unique archive contains over 30 million pages of Holocaust-era documents relating to the fates of over 17.5 million people who were subject to incarceration, forced labour and displacement during and after World War II. The archive is now available at the Library to those who wish to examine documents related to their own fate or to that of family members during World War II. The digital copy is also available for consultation in the Reading Room for those interested in conducting historical research within the collections.
The International Tracing Service Archive, physically located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, is unique in its scope and significance. The result of a remarkable British initiative in 1943, the archive was originally founded by the British Red Cross as a Tracing Bureau with the aim of allowing the millions of people displaced and missing during the Second World War to trace, and be traced by, their families.
The digital copy of the ITS Archive at The Wiener Library provides access to around 95% of the original documents, including:
- Documents on incarceration in concentration camps, ghettos and prisons
- Registration cards of Displaced Persons
- Documents on forced labour
- Documents on DP Camps and emigration
- General historical documents and the inventory from the children's tracing branch
Search the General Inventory of the entire ITS Archive by keyword or browse via the inventory structure.
Thanks to financial support from the Foreign Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Heritage Lottery Fund and private donors, the Library has now opened the archive for humanitarian and scholarly research requests.
Women under Nazi Persecution: A Primary Source Supplement
In honour of Women’s History Month, The Wiener Library is pleased to announce the release of its joint publication, Women under Nazi Persecution: A Primary Source Supplement Based on Documents from the International Tracing Service (free download).
Particular forms of exploitation and persecution of women by the National Socialists are the subject of the first issue of a new online publication series based on documents from the International Tracing Service (ITS) digital archive.
Among the documents are a circular issued by the Nazis about the conditions in which female forced labourers gave birth and received abortions, as well as early testimony from a survivor of a Ravensbrück subcamp. The documents have been published with explanations and questions for the university-level study in Women under Nazi Persecution. The supplement is the first in a series to be published by the International Tracing Service (ITS), the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and The Wiener Library. The series is financially supported by the Claims Conference.
The aim of the supplement series is to make the unique holdings of the ITS archive more widely accessible and to draw students' attention to the research potential of the ITS archive.
On view at the Library currently is its temporary exhibition Fate Unknown, which examines the history of the ITS and the search for the missing after the Holocaust. The exhibition has been co-curated with Prof Dan Stone (Royal Holloway, University of London).
Accessing The Wiener Library's Digital Copy of the ITS Archive
The Wiener Library is able to respond to a small number of queries clarifying the fates of individuals as well as facilitate public access to the Archive for research purposes. Enquirers should note that requests for humanitarian use of the archives may often be better carried out at, and through the deep expertise of, the staff of the ITS at its headquarters in Bad Arolsen.
The archive is open for researchers to consult on an appointment-only basis in the Reading Room, but all enquiries must first be submitted at the link below.
Given the size and complexity of the ITS Archive, processing research requests can take considerable time. Enquirers are asked to submit a research request containing as much relevant information as possible about the individuals or the topic in question. Those who wish to consult the archives for purposes other than clarifying the fate of their own family members are required to sign a research declaration that commits them to observing relevant data protection legislation.
Priority for archival research assistance is given to Holocaust survivors and their immediate families. For the purposes of ITS research, the Wiener Library honours as Survivors any persons, Jewish or non-Jewish, who were displaced, persecuted or discriminated against due to the racial, religious, ethnic, social and political policies of the Nazis and their collaborators between 1933 and 1945. Copies of relevant documentation are provided to survivors and their families free of charge.
Despite its size, the Archive sometimes contains no information about certain persecuted persons or topics. If this is the case, we will try to inform you as quickly as possible.
The Wiener Library respects your right to privacy. Personal information collected in our online enquiry forms will not be sold or disseminated and will remain confidential and accessible only to authorized personnel.
Requesters may also schedule an appointment for consultation of the digital archive or to review documents in the Wolfson Reading Room at the Wiener Library. First-time visitors to the Library must comply with the Library’s procedures for access; for more information, see “Using the Library”. Researchers will be offered assistance at the beginning of their research in the ITS Archive, and Library staff will also provide various tools, including a list of abbreviations and codes used in the archives, to facilitate research.
Please note: Only authorised USB flash drives are permitted for use at the Reading Room ITS terminals. Authorised USB flash drives can be purchased from the Library for £4 (1 GB) each.