21 April 2007

Bad Arolsen records: Germany ratifies opening

More good news!

With Germany's April 13 ratification of the international agreement to unseal the Bad Arolsen archive, a majority of the 11 nations that oversee the International Tracing Service archives have voted to unseal the archive's 30-50 million pages (including 17.5 million names).

This trove is administered by the International Red Cross. In May, the oversight committee will meet in The Hague to finalize arrangements for the transfer of digital copies to other Holocaust research centers where survivors will be able to see their own files and researchers will be able to work with them

Before the amendments permitting this transfer can take effect, all 11 signatories must ratify them.

Germany ratification was essential politically in several ways, including the fact that the archives are in Germany and subject to German law.

The U.S., Israel, Poland, the Netherlands and Britain have also ratified the amendments. The others are Belgium, France, Italy, Greece and Luxembourg; most of them say they intend to ratify before the end of 2007.

Since 1955, Bad Arolsen has responded more than 11 million requests for information, but virtually no one but Red Cross staff has seen the files directly.

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