For decades, the ITS archive grew without any classic archival arrangement. It was a tool used to search for the names of victims of the Nazis, to document their paths of persecution and to find traces of the millions of people who had been murdered.
It is still a challenge for the ITS to make its archive comprehensible to external users and accessible to researchers. One exceptional project in 2017 involved preparing what is known as Collection 1.1 for publication online. With 40 sub-collections from nearly all concentration camps and ghettos, it is a core part of the ITS archive. It comprises around 10 million images which will be made available online.
Five ITS employees took two approaches to describing this very heterogeneous collection. Their first approach was based on its content. They added information, mainly concerning the more than 100 different sources from which the original documents had come. This will enable users to correctly cite the information, for example, or retrieve additional information. The team also made structural preparations for publishing the collection online by arranging sub-collections, putting together series of documents and eliminating redundancies.
The ITS is benefiting here from its cooperation with the Yad Vashem memorial, which has experience in this area. Yad Vashem has provided technical support as well as the online platform it developed for similar purposes. Collection 1.1 is scheduled to be published online in the second half of 2018.
The ITS also took another step in 2017 to facilitate access to its archival collection: it gave the concentration camp memorials digital copies of the documents relating to each camp. The memorials can incorporate these documents into their own databases and use the accompanying metadata to research people persecuted by the Nazis. Most of these documents – such as prisoner registration cards – pertain to individual prisoners, but some relate to the organization of the camp. The ITS is thus helping to fill gaps in information. Additionally, since these memorials receive so many visitors, the ITS will be able to help even more people explore Nazi history and the suffering of those persecuted. The memorials signed an agreement with the ITS to guarantee privacy and property rights and ensure the authenticity of the documents.
The ITS carried out other projects, too, in an effort to expand and facilitate access to its archive in 2017 – in a variety of ways: