GENEVA (Jun. 23)
Since 1955, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has helped tens of thousands of Nazi concentration camp survivors obtain documentation necessary for filing claims for reparations or compensation.
This month it is marking the 31st anniversary of assuming responsibility for the International Tracing Service (ITS) which is based in Arolsen, West Germany.
The ITS was set up in Paris in June, 1955 under agreements signed by France, Britain, the U.S. and West Germany. Its management was entrusted to the ICRC. The principal activity is to provide attestation at the request of Nazi victims, their close relatives or legal representatives. The ITS collects, classifies and stores personal documents relating to civilian victims of the Nazi regime in Germany.
Its documents store contains more than 43 million items with information on over 13.5 million people. Last year its staff of 243 received and processed 30,766 requests from 35 countries and sent out 53,000 letters in reply.
Most of the requests related to reparations or compensation sought by persons who required confirmation of their detention at concentration camps or slave labor camps, deportation to the Third Reich as laborers or their confinement in refugee camps immediately after the war.
The International Commission for the ITS includes, in addition to the original signatory powers, Belgium, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.