Today, ICRC President Peter Maurer is in Bad Arolsen, Germany, to announce the handover by the ICRC of the management of the International Tracing Service (ITS) to the German Federal Archives on January 1st, 2013.
The ITS archives concern civilians detained in concentration or labour camps and people who had to flee their homes because of WWII.
The archives house over 50 million card files relating to more than 17.5 million civilians persecuted by the National Socialist regime.
While eleven nations known as the International Commission supervises the ITS, the ICRC oversaw its administration for over half a century.
Over the last decades, the ITS has been responsible for preserving these historical records, and processing requests to trace family members of the second and third generation after the war.
In May 2007, the International Commission agreed that the ITS archives be digitized and that each of member nations receive a single copy. The United States designated the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) to hold its copy of the archives. The first installment of digitized data was later transferred to the USHMM, which will continue to receive data from Bad Arolsen until all archives are digitized and made available.
On the occasion of Mr. Maurer's speech at Bad Arolsen, a short pictorial overview of that most important institution and the people it serves.
All photos ©ICRC/©ITS