27 August 2008

Bad Arolsen: ITS completes slave labor digitization

The International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany has completed the digitization of its documents on forced labor, according to this press release.

Posted on August 25, the release indicated that Yad Vashem (Jerusalem), the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington DC) and the Institute of National Remembrance (Warsaw) had received a copy of the data on that day.

“The documents attest to the monstrous dimension of slave labour during the national socialist reign,” said Udo Jost, head of the archive. “The labour of so-called foreign workers was exploited in nearly every economic sector and region.”

Already scanned and indexed are more than 6.7 million documents (some 13 million images) on the topic.

“The digitalisation serves the protection and conservation of the original documents,” said Jost. “At the same time, it allows for better access to the documents, whether on location at ITS or at one of our partner organisations in Israel, the US or Poland.”

Documents handed over were original files from the Nazi period that concern individual people. Primarily, they are employment records of slave laborers, patients’ files and insurance documents, registry cards from the authorities, health insurance agencies and employers.

ITS also scanned lists compiled in early 1946 by command of the Western Allies. All German municipalities were required to report the residency of foreigners and German Jews during World War II to the allied tracing service bureaus. List details include residence, employers, employment periods, marriages, births and grave sites.

These were used to reunite families and for post-war repatriation, and also used by ITS for verifications for indemnity funds.

Estimates are that more than 12 million people were affected, including some 8.4 million civil workers. Slave laborers were deployed across the economy, including mining, industry, administration, small trade and farming.

The next major ITS scanning and indexing project - already begun - will be documents from post-war DP camps, which follows the digitizing in such categories of forced labor concentration camp imprisonment, and displaced person's index cards. So far, some 70% of the ITS documents have been scanned and indexed.

For more details, click on the above link.

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