The number of inquiries received by the ITS rose again in 2017. This highlights how important this information is even to younger people. These numbers pose a challenge for the service departments, however, because responses cannot be sent as quickly as they would like. “Additionally, sometimes the waiting times are long because we prioritize urgent inquiries,” explains ITS Director Floriane Hohenberg. “Survivors and people who are ill usually receive a response in less than a month.” For everyone else, the ITS has set a new response deadline of a maximum of six months. In 2017, the ITS laid the foundations for achieving this ambitious goal.
“Good service means providing solid, understandable information – but it also means not having to wait an eternity for it,” Hohenberg says. The ITS has therefore analyzed its workflows and restructured some departments, teams and responsibilities. “We’ve optimized and streamlined our processes.” In 2018 the ITS plans to move to a completely digital workflow. A “fast lane” has also be established for people making inquiries. Furthermore, people will receive all documents about their relatives with precise designations to clarify their context, but without analysis. “We are always available to answer questions, of course,” Hohenberg says. “We want to adjust our service so that everyone is satisfied.”
The ITS is also preparing new, well-structured services to provide supporting material for trips to memorials. In 2017 a team from the Research and Education department created and tested standardized work packages that can be adapted to the needs of individual groups of learners. On the one hand, this will enable the ITS to respond effectively to the high level of interest in such materials. On the other hand, the learning packages will provide new impetus when addressing young people. “We can reach younger target groups very directly by providing information about people persecuted by the Nazis from their own hometown, maybe even people who were the same age,” Hohenberg explains. The ITS wants to provide institutional support to memorials that are also under the aegis of the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.
In order to reach a wider audience and supplement the work of the memorials, the ITS gave its partners digital copies of documents from and about the concentration camps in 2017. The employees at the memorials subsequently made more use of the ITS workshops. “Our workshops for educators were a success,” Hohenberg says, “and our archive pedagogy conference was also very well attended."
High numbers of participants are not the only reason to expand this field of work. Programs such as the Winter School, which the ITS organized in February 2017 for educators from various European countries, are also strategically worthwhile because they spark an interest in other events. Over the past months, a remarkable number of institutions have asked about workshops carried out, organized or supported by the ITS. (Photo: Participants of the Winter School 2017, which ITS offers every two years together with the Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre Berlin-Schöneweide)