US urges the opening of the Holocaust archive

28th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

28 March 2007, Washington (dpa) - A US lower-house panel this week urged nations overseeing the world's largest Holocaust archive to open it to public access, saying they could help counter deniers such as Iranian President Mohammed Ahmadinejad. The resolution passed by the US House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee was aimed at seven European countries that have yet to ratify an accord to open to researchers the roughly 50 million Nazi files at Bad Arolsen, Germany. Scholars say the records on

28 March 2007

Washington (dpa) - A US lower-house panel this week urged nations overseeing the world's largest Holocaust archive to open it to public access, saying they could help counter deniers such as Iranian President Mohammed Ahmadinejad.

The resolution passed by the US House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee was aimed at seven European countries that have yet to ratify an accord to open to researchers the roughly 50 million Nazi files at Bad Arolsen, Germany.

Scholars say the records on concentration camps and their victims will fill gaps in history, in part because the archive has testimony of victims and ordinary Germans who witnessed Nazi brutality.

In view of "Ahmadinejad's anti-Semitic rhetoric, and a resurgence of anti-Semitism in part of the world, the opening of the archives at Bad Arolsen could not be more urgent," the panel's measure said.

Opening the archive "is a vital contribution to the world's collective memory and understanding of the Holocaust," said the resolution, which needs the full House's approval to formally take effect.

Of the 11 countries that oversee the archive's administration, Israel, the United States, Poland and the Netherlands have ratified changes in a 1955 treaty that banned the use of files for research.

Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Britain have yet to ratify. The archive's 11-nation steering body meets in May, and the committee urged members to agree to open the records at that meeting if any ratification are still pending at that point.

The US government and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington have led international pressure to open the storehouse, which is administered by the Swiss-based International Committee of the Red Cross.

In a major step, the German government agreed last year to support the changes. Currently, Italy and Greece are seen as potentially key holdouts.

Public access to the records "is a moral and humanitarian imperative," especially because of "the short time left to Holocaust survivors," the House committee said.

The panel is chaired by Tom Lantos, 79, a Hungarian-born Democratic representative from California and the only Holocaust survivor in the US Congress. The Democratic-led committee passed the measure by a voice vote.

DPA

Subject: German news

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