More endorse accord to open Nazi archive

19th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

19 June 2007, AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ Copies of Nazi war documents locked away in a small German town for more than half a century moved closer to being transferred to Holocaust museums with the endorsement of two more countries on the archive's 11-nation governing commission, Red Cross officials said Tuesday.

19 June 2007

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ Copies of Nazi war documents locked away in a small German town for more than half a century moved closer to being transferred to Holocaust museums with the endorsement of two more countries on the archive's 11-nation governing commission, Red Cross officials said Tuesday.

Luxembourg and Greece joined seven other states that ratified changes to a 1955 treaty allowing direct access of the immense storehouse to researchers, and to concentration camp survivors through museums in Washington and Jerusalem.

The two countries still must file the ratification papers with the German government to complete the process, said Iris Moeker, a spokeswoman for the German Red Cross.

Only Italy and France have yet to pass the treaty amendments through their parliaments for ratification. In France, the process has been delayed by legislative elections, which ended Sunday.

The files maintained by the International Tracing Service, part of the International Committee of the Red Cross, were kept confidential to satisfy European privacy requirements, intended to protect survivors and victims from indiscriminate disclosures. But the commission agreed last year to partially lift the secrecy after years of pressure from survivors who wanted to see their own histories.

About 50 million pages of Nazi war records, death registers, transportation lists, forced labor documents and postwar displaced persons records are stored in 16 miles (25 kilometers) of shelf space in the central German town of Bad Arolsen.

Indexed by name, they have been used mainly to track the fate of millions of victims.

In a separate step forward Tuesday, archive technicians in Arolsen completed their first trial run of transferring data, and will give the test copies to the United States and Israel later this week, said Michael Hoffmann, head of the archive's technology department.

Hoffmann said 13 gigabytes of data were stored on portable hard discs and will be sent to the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Berlin for transfer to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

The discs will allow the two institutions to work on integrating the full data into their systems. The first of four transfers _ up to 3 terabytes, or 3,000 gigabytes _ will be transferred by the end of July, Hoffmann said by telephone from Bad Arolsen.

The first batch comprises incarceration records from Auscwitz, Buchenwald and thousands of other camps.

The Central Name Index, with the names of 17.5 million victims, will be sent by the end of the year, with forced labor documents following within the next half year, Hoffmann said. The final batch of postwar records will move by mid-2008.

Under the agreement, a single national archive from each of the 11 states is entitled to receive a digital copy of the archive, to be made accessible to the public according to that country's own laws.

The member states are the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Britain, Israel, the United States, Luxembourg, France, Italy and Greece.

AP

Subject: German news

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