The International Tracing Service (ITS)
The International Tracing Service (ITS) An index of over 14 million names of victims and survivors of the Holocaust is kept and maintained by the International Tracing Service (ITS). This repository was created at the end of World War II in Arolsen, Germany, and is currently administered by the International Committee of the Red Cross for the purpose of "assembling, classifying, preserving, and evaluating personal records on former persecutees of the National-Socialist Regime" (International Tracing Service, pp. 2-3).
As information was released after World War II, the ITS created index cards to refect what was known about individual victims and survivors of the Holocaust (both Jewish and non-Jewish) (International Tracing Service, pp. 3-4). This process continues today as more documents are released. Currently this index consists of over 46 million pieces of information kept in the ITS archives.
To access the ITS master index of names:
- The ITS can be contacted directly,
- The ITS can be contacted through the services of the American Red Cross,
- or Copies of ITS records from the 1950s can be accessed in the Yad Vashem archives (Mokotoff, p. 20).
With all methods of access, only names of individuals can be searched. People groups, camps, or locations cannot be searched directly (International Tracing Service, p. 4).
When sending requests, Gary Mokotoff of Avotaynu urges researchers to be sure to include all known information about the individual (it increases the chances of getting a swift response). Send the name, the place of birth or the town of residence before the war, and a birth date or approximate age of the individual during the war, if possible.
1. A response from the ITS can be expected between 6 months and 2 years. Contact the ITS directly at:
International Tracing Service
Grosse Allee 5-9
2. Requests to the American Red Cross are processed more quickly.
The American Red Cross (ARC)
The ARC will do an extensive search on an individual name for close family members using the following International Red Cross connections:
The Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Information Center, The International Tracing Service, Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies worldwide, and The Magen David Adom in Israel.
There is no charge for this service and it must be done through your local ARC chapter . If you are outside of the United States, you can use the same service through the Red Cross Society in your country.
A recent ARC posting explains in more detail what should be sent to the ARC for this search and how their searching is done.
Current ARC brochures explain that those who submitted requests prior to 1990 should resubmit them to their local ARC chapter because of additional war-era records that have recently been released.
3. The Yad Vashem copies can only be accessed in person. If you can visit yourself, then you can research even more quickly. The address and phone are as follows:
The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority
P.O. Box 3477
Telephone: +972 02-751611
Fax: +972 02-433511
As Israel's Holocaust museum and research center, Yad Vashem has a wealth of resources available on the history of the Holocaust as well as on individual towns and names. All of the resources are available to the public, but their Pages of Testimony are also searchable by mail request.
Pages of Testimony are forms about victims of the Holocaust that have been completed and submitted by a relative or eyewitness. There are currently about 3 million victims documented in the Pages of Testimony. To request a search on a name from the Pages of Testimony, first read Yad Vashem's guidelines on how to submit your request, then submit it via their web site's request form or send your request to:
Hall of Names
P.O. Box 3477
You can expect a bill to be sent to you with any information they find.
Yad Vashem also owns copies of International Tracing Service cards from the 1950s that can only be used in person.
The majority of this information was obtained from:
International Tracing Service. International Committee of the Red Cross, 1986.
Mokotoff, Gary. How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust. Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, Inc., 1995.