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First transfer of material from ITS/Arolsen Archive arrives at Yad Vashem

Some 12 million documents to be absorbed in Yad Vashem Archives

21 August 2007

Last night (Monday) the first transfer of material from the International Tracing Service archives at Bad Arolsen, Germany arrived at Yad Vashem. The transfer took place following a decision by the ITS International Commission to permit the transfer, on embargo, of material to archives in the member states, to allow them to prepare the groundwork for making the material available to the public. The embargo will be lifted only when all 11-member states have completed the ratification process.

The material-12 million documents, comprising 1.4 terra bytes-were handed over by Michael Hoffmann, IT System Administrator of the ITS, to Michael Lieber, CIO of Yad Vashem (see attached photo). The 12 million scanned documents received last night primarily include material describing concentration camp prisoners: personal records of various prisoners in the Nazi camps, as well as lists prepared within the camps themselves, including transfer records, personal prisoner accounts, and details of the sick and the dead. In total, the ITS archives contain information on some 17.5 million individuals. Copies of some 20 million pages of documentation from Bad Arolsen have been contained in Yad Vashem’s Archives since the 1950’s.

“Over the years, Yad Vashem has amassed a great deal of experience and knowledge in digitizing archival information and making it user friendly,” said Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem. “However, the material received last night, is complex and vast, taken from a number of camps, which is organized in complicated and varying ways. We expect it will take a lot of resources to sift through the material and catalogue it. We are, as a first step, checking whether the material we have just received contains new documentation or whether it compliments the material Yad Vashem brought from Bad Arolsen in the 1950s.”

Digital copies of more material from Bad Arolsen are expected to arrive at Yad Vashem towards the end of this year, as well as in 2008 and 2009.