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Humanities Seminar

Friday, March 22, 2019
12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Einstein Papers Project, 363 S. Hill Ave.
The Archives of Humanity: The International Tracing Service, The Holocaust, and Postwar Order
Jennifer L. Rodgers, Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania; Research Director, “Primum non nocere: The American Hospital of Paris and the German Occupation of France, 1940-1945”,

This talk focuses on the multifaceted uses of humanitarianism by the International Tracing Service, an organization created by the Allies in 1943 to locate and reunite people who went missing during the Nazi era in Europe. Over the course of the ITS' seventy-year history, control over the ITS and its vast archive has had immense practical and symbolic significance, not only for individual persons, but also the states and non-governmental institutions who exercised soft power through its humanitarian services. Also, what had been initially set up to aid in the reconstruction of European societies came to be widely understood as "Hitler's Secret Archive." Germany and the Red Cross consistently exploited the humanitarian service of tracing missing victims of Nazi tyranny to promote and legitimize their postwar agendas. I will argue that the consistent repurposing of the ITS's files not only reframed international humanitarian norms and conventions, but also the very practice of relief itself.

For more information, please contact Sini Elvington by phone at 626-395-3243 or by email at [email protected].