17 August 2007

Insider info on the Arolsen records

Yad Vashem's chief archivist (since 1993) Yaacov Lozowick's blog has a recent posting about insider news and personal views on ITS/Arolsen issues.

He writes that what may be the most significant data is what was created in the early post-war years, when "tens - or hundreds - of thousands of survivors filled out forms detailing the names of those they had lost." These are important, he writes, because they've never been open and few know they exist. Unfortunately, this segment will not be scanned for perhaps a year or two, he adds.

Other information:

--It may be the most important archive for tracing individuals persecuted by the Nazis, and for tracing individuals in the early post-war years.

--Most Jews murdered in the Holocaust will not appear, since they were not recorded at the time. This is not what most people think, but is a fact.

--Pressure brought by USHMM's Dr. Paul Shapiro and colleagues resulted in the 2006 Bonn Agreement, which sets how the data will be digitally duplicated and made accessible in various countries.

--The Bonn Agreement allows only one digital copy per member country, and forbids putting it on the Internet.

--Large portions of the ITS collections have been open to the public for many years at Yad Vashem. Some people wanting access to ITS data could have had the information from Yad Vashem - many have done just that.

--Creating simple access when the collections are opened will be difficult for technical reasons.

--The best the institutions are currently aiming for is creating a modified system at their sites, given "time constraints, technical challenges and costs."

--In the future, it should be possible to migrate data into a system permitting individual researchers to type a name into a computer and receive results from across the collections.

--Data accessible in 2008 in Washington, Jerusalem, Paris and eleswhere will not include the complete collections, as scanning will take more years and longer for processing.

Click here to read the entire piece.

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