15 May 2007
Yad Vashem welcomes the International Tracing Service (ITS) International Commission’s decision to transfer digital copies of the Bad Arolsen Archives to member states of the International Commission. The transfer will allow the states to prepare for the opening of the Archives, while ratification of the relevant agreements (adopted May 2006) is pending. Once all 11-member states have ratified, the archives will be opened to researchers. Thus far, seven countries have ratified the agreements.
Chairman of Yad Vashem Avner Shalev welcomed the agreements. “I am delighted to see this project moving forward, and look forward to welcoming a delegation of senior archival and technical professionals from the ITS to Yad Vashem later this month. Together with Yad Vashem staff, the delegation will explore the best methods to facilitate the opening of the vast and complex collection at Bad Arolsen to historians and researchers. Yad Vashem looks forward to being able to share its experience in digitizing archival information and making it user friendly. In the near future, Yad Vashem will send an expert group of archivists and technical professionals to Bad Arolsen.”
In May 2006, the International Commission of the ITS decided to open the archives at Bad Arolsen; however this decision depends on the ratification of all 11 member states (France, Greece, Luxembourg, Belgium, Italy, United States, Poland, Germany, Holland, United Kingdom, and Israel.)
Israel, a member of the International Commission, will receive the information via Yad Vashem, which has already begun to study the material and whose representative is currently in Amsterdam. At the end of the study process, Yad Vashem will be able to evaluate the requirements necessary to make the Bad Arolsen information accessible. Yad Vashem’s Archives currently contain some 70 million pages of documentation - including 20 million pages scanned from the ITS in the 1950s.