Archive of Holocaust upgrades online service

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The world's principal archive of the Holocaust, a Red Cross-managed storehouse in Germany of Nazi concentration-camp records, upgraded its online service Thursday to be more welcoming to researchers.

2 November 2007

Berlin - The world's principal archive of the Holocaust, a Red Cross-managed storehouse in Germany of Nazi concentration-camp records, upgraded its online service Thursday to be more welcoming to researchers.

The International Tracing Service (ITS), criticised in the past for keeping its files secret, has begun transferring digital images of the papers to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and is setting up a reading room at its own office in Bad Arolsen, Germany.

The new ITS website at www.its-arolsen.org allows survivors of Nazi persecution and the families of the dead to file tracing requests online and researchers to book time in the reading room when it opens in a few weeks' time.

"The new website is an important tool supporting our efforts to better serve the victims of Nazi persecution and their families," said ITS director Reto Meister.

Rules on access to the files were settled in May by the nations governing the documents and have been published on the website.

An ITS spokeswoman said that a new treaty on opening the files had now been ratified by all 11 member states but it was likely to take another three to four weeks for all to notify Berlin.

A protocol between the 11 and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) must also be finalised. Historians were likely to gain access to the documents by the end of the year.

The first batches of digital copies have been sent to Washington, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem and the Polish Holocaust memorial institute, while France and the Netherlands have also requested copies.

DPA

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