USHMM Expert to Discuss How International Tracing Service Aids Holocaust Families

Diane Afoumado, the chief of the Research and Reference Branch at the Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., will be in Louisville on Thursday, May 12, and she will speak on “How the International Tracing Service Aids Holocaust Families” at Chavurat Shalom at The Temple.

Lunch is available at noon in the Heideman Auditorium for $5 per person and the presentation will be at 1 p.m. in the Waller Chapel. Advance reservations are required for lunch and kosher meals are available upon advance request. RSVP by Monday, May 9, to Charlaine Reynolds, 502-509-9416 or

The International Tracing Service archive (ITS) is located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, and until November 2007, when the Museum-led effort to open it succeeded, it was the largest closed Holocaust archive in the world. It was established by the Allied powers after World War II to help reunite families separated during the war and to trace missing family members.

The Allies placed millions of pages of documentation captured during the war in the ITS. Since then, the archive has continued to grow as new records, both originals and copies, have been deposited there. The archive is overseen by an 11-nation International Commission comprised of Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Originally, the archive was administered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In 2013, administration was transferred to the German Federal Archives. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C., is the United States’ repository for the International Tracing Service (ITS) collection.

The archive contains more than 185 million digital images of documentation on millions of victims of Nazism—people arrested, deported, killed, put to forced labor and slave labor, or displaced from their homes and unable to return at the end of the war.

The ITS collection contains various documents such as camp arrival lists, grave locations, transport lists, prisoner cards, forced labor lizsts, death lists, displaced person applications for assistance, deportation lists, emigration applications/questionnaires, registration and work cards, and even some photographs.

The USHMM staff helps people find their families and learn their fate using several million documents. The Holocaust survivors and Victims’ Resource Center ensures that the individual experiences of survivors and victims of the Holocaust and Nazi-era persecution are collected, preserved and disseminated for future generations.

Prior to her work with the USHMM, Dr. Afoumado served as assistant professor of contemporary history at the University of Paris X-Nanterre and the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris, and she worked for the two French commissions related to compensation to Jewish victims. She also worked as a historian for the Archival Division of the Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine – Mémorial de la Shoah.

She is the author of several books: L’affiche antisémite en France sous l’Occupation, (Berg International, 2008); Exil impossible. L’errance des réfugiés juifs du paquebot « St.Louis » (L’Harmattan, 2005), co-author with Serge Klarsfeld of La spoliation dans les camps de province, (La documentation française, 2000).

She also contributed to “ The ‘Care and Maintenance in Germany’ Collection – A Reflection of DP Self-Identification and Postwar Emigration”, In: Jahrbuch des International Tracing Service, (Wallstein Verlag, 2014). Repicturing the Second World War. Representations in Film and Television, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); Evoking Genocide. Scholars and Activists Describe the Works That Shaped Their Lives, (The Key Publishing House Inc, 2009) and wrote more than 20 articles related to the Holocaust.

Her cousin, Louisvillian Leon Wahba, says, “The Holocaust and all its aspects have been Diane’s passion all of her life. She has researched it, written about it, and spoken about it for decades. And she has traveled the world speaking about it.”

Chavurat Shalom is a community of Jewish older adults in the Louisville area who meet regularly on Thursdays. Funding for Chavurat Shalom is provided by the Jewish Community of Louisville, National Council of Jewish Women, a Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence grant, The Temple’s Men of Reform Judaism and Women of Reform Judaism, and many other generous donors. This special program is open to the community.

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