Holocaust archive to open in late summer

16th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

16 May 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Officials from 11 governments have agreed to sidestep legal barriers and begin in late summer with distribution of electronic copies of one of the world's most secret and exhaustive Holocaust archives, its management said Tuesday. The International Tracing Service (ITS) at Bad Arolsen in Germany contains 30 million documents on concentration camp victims and millions of non-Germans - both victims and collaborators - who were displaced by the Second World War. The papers were fir

16 May 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Officials from 11 governments have agreed to sidestep legal barriers and begin in late summer with distribution of electronic copies of one of the world's most secret and exhaustive Holocaust archives, its management said Tuesday.

The International Tracing Service (ITS) at Bad Arolsen in Germany contains 30 million documents on concentration camp victims and millions of non-Germans - both victims and collaborators - who were displaced by the Second World War.

The papers were first used by the Allies to bring Nazis to justice, then to reunite parted families, and will now be opened to historians keen to expose the Nazi system at the human level.

The ITS is governed by Germany and 10 and other nations. The United States has led pressure to open the sealed archives to families and others before the last Holocaust survivors die. But a new treaty must be ratified first.

At a meeting in the Dutch city of Amsterdam, officials agreed that digital copies of the Nazi-era documents could be transferred to Holocaust museums in Washington, Jerusalem and elsewhere this summer, before the treaty takes legal effect, the ITS said.

It said Greek, Luxembourg, Italian, Belgian and French officials assured the meeting their parliaments would ratify the change by autumn. The other six nations have already ratified the new set-up.

The summer release means computers can be loaded with the images weeks before the launch date when the last nation gives its consent.

The ITS said it had scanned all its documents dealing with incarceration, about one third of the collection. The rest includes exhaustive lists of aliens on German soil and questionnaires filled in by post-war refugees.

The two-day Amsterdam meeting also agreed that any documents more than 25 years old would be available to historians, the ITS said.

Rules approved Tuesday will require the historians to register by name to read the collection and promise not to publish private data.

"This is a good compromise," said Reto Meister, the Swiss Red Cross official who is director of the archives.

DPA

Subject: German news

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