Each year, another of the eleven member states assumes the chair of the International Commission (IC), which oversees our work. Since June, this has been Belgium, with its chairman Gilles Heyvaert. He recently came to Bad Arolsen with two Belgian historians to visit the archive and determine the collaboration for the coming year. During his tenure, Gilles Heyvaert would like to promote digitization and data protection, and bring modern remembrance projects to Belgium.

“It was important to me to come here in person, to talk to the employees, and experience how the Arolsen Archives work,” explained Gilles Heyvaert, Chairman of the International Commission, during his visit to Bad Arolsen. The experienced diplomat has been working for the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for many years, including his role as the ambassador of Belgium to Egypt.


Video statement from Gilles Heyvaert during his visit.

The Belgian chairman also brought historians Pierre-Alain Tallier and Filip Strubbe from the National Archives of Belgium with him to Bad Arolsen. Both have been familiar with the work of Arolsen Archives for many years thanks to their involvement with the IC.


The International Commission

Government representatives from the eleven member states Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, UK, USA, and Poland form the International Commission (IC), which oversees the work of the Arolsen Archives on behalf of former persecutees. The IC has been establishing the framework for the institution’s work since the Bonn Agreement in 1955. A different member state appoints the chair each year.

Key topic data protection

At a meeting with Director Floriane Azoulay and CEO Steffen Baumheier, the guests from Belgium discussed the key topics relating to the future collaboration. Gilles Heyvaert would like to campaign for the creation of a pragmatic data protection policy for the Arolsen Archives. All of the member states must cooperate closely here in order to ensure that the implementation of such a policy is binding based on an agreed course of action.


Steffen Baumheier, Floriane Azoulay, Gilles Heyvaert, Pierre-Alain Tallier,  Filip Strubbe (from left) in Bad Arolsen.

»It was a very productive exchange and I am looking forward to the future collaboration with our new chairman, Gilles Heyvaert. With his extensive diplomatic experience, he will assist us a great deal in implementing such a sensitive topic as data protection on behalf of the victims and their families.« 

Floriane Azoulay, Director of the Arolsen Archives

Remembering victims from Belgium

The Belgian representatives would like to raise awareness of the #everynamecounts initiative in their country – particularly as our archive also contains countless documents concerning Belgian Nazi victims that can be made accessible online in order to remember what happened to these people There is also already an idea to bring a #StolenMemory container to the Benelux countries with a dedicated traveling exhibition in the next year.


The employees of the Arolsen Archives showed the Belgian delegation round the archive, digitization department, and permanent exhibition. The new chairman also gained information about the interactive projects #StolenMemory and #everynamecounts, and, in particular, the institution’s collaboration with Belgian volunteers.

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