Paths, Places and Spaces of Nazi Persecution

The new yearbook of the International Tracing Service (ITS), which came out in November 2016, focuses on the spatial dimension of the Holocaust and other mass crimes committed by the Nazis.

What is to be gained by reconstructing paths of persecution and spaces of terror? Volume five of the ITS yearbook, entitled Freilegungen – Wege, Orte und Räume der NS-Verfolgung (“Uncovered – Paths, Places and Spaces of Nazi Persecution”) offers answers to that question. The nine essays and case studies making up the main section of this scholarly publication show how geographical research in the ITS archive benefits investigation of the history and post-history of Nazi crimes. On account of its work as a tracing and documentation service, the ITS is known above all for its potential in connection with biographical research. Whereas in 2015, the ITS illustrated the death marches with georeferenced documents on a map in its online archive, its new yearbook now follows up with an overview of further possible means of access.

A new aspect here is the evaluation of the databases in the ITS digital archive to visualize historical events or structures using digital means of depiction. An example is the case study by Henning Borggräfe, acting head of the Department of Research and Education at ITS and the editor of the current yearbook. Taking victims of the operation “Work-shy Reich” as his point of departure, he examined not the concentration camps but the victims’ individual paths, thus depicting persecution as a dynamic history unlimited by geographical boundaries. The “People on the Move” project, which aims to shed light on migration and mobility patterns during and after the National Socialist era, will work with mass data from the ITS digital archive. In their contribution, Sebastian Bondzio, Christoph Rass and Ismee Tames sketch the findings that can be expected from such a project.

The yearbook moreover offers contributions concentrating on references to place and space, for example the essay by Roman Herzog on the camp system in fascist Italy, and that by Paul Sanders about occupation, resistance and persecution on the British Channel Islands. Beata Halicka’s article focuses on Polish forced labourers who, after their liberation, were the first settlers in the conquered territories to the east of the Oder-Neisse Line, and provides insights into the period around 1945 and afterward. Under the heading “Erkenntnisse” (“Insights”), the second section of the yearbook revolves around how the ITS responds to questions from the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of victims of Nazi persecution today, while also providing insights into the current focuses of the ITS’s educational work and projects being carried out by its partners.

The yearbook Freilegungen – Wege, Orte und Räume der NS-Verfolgung was published by the Wallstein Verlag Göttingen. The chief aim of this series, which was launched in 2012, is to call attention to the potentials of the ITS’s archival holdings for various approaches in research and education.

Eight essays of the ITS Yearbook are written in German, six essays are written in English.

Freilegungen: Wege, Orte und Räume der NS-Verfolgung, Volume No. 5
(“Uncovered – Paths, Places and Spaces of Nazi Persecution”)
Editor: Henning Borggräfe
263 pages with 32 illustrations, € 29.90 (D) incl. VAT plus postage
ISBN: 978-3-8353-1925-7 (2016)
Orders directly from Wallstein Verlag
also available as E-Book

About the ITS

The International Tracing Service (ITS) is an archive and a center for documenting National Socialist persecution and the liberated survivors. Out of the more than 30 million documents, former victims of Nazism and their families receive information regarding their incarceration, forced labor, and postwar allied assistance. The documents in the ITS archives provide the basis for research and education. In continuing to fulfill these responsibilities, the ITS is part of an international cooperation with memorial sites, archives and research institutes.

The ITS commemorates and memorializes the victims of the Nazi crimes. As of 2013 the original documents in the ITS archives are included on the UNESCO “Memory of the World” Registry.

The ITS is governed by representatives from 11 member states: Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom, USA. The German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media funds the ITS. The German Federal Archives is the institutional partner of the ITS.

Specially chosen collections are accessible in the Online Archive: digitalcollections.its-arolsen.org