30 September 2008

Seattle: Paul Shapiro, USHMM, Oct. 23

Although it seems somewhat early to announce an October 23 program, Tracing the Tribe wants to make sure that all Seattle-area readers mark their calendars now for this special event, which should attract wide community participation.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State (JGSWS) will present "Opening the Archives of the Holocaust International Tracing Service," with Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), in Washington, DC.

Doors open at 7pm, and the program begins promptly at 7.30pm, Thursday, October 23, at the Stroum Jewish Community Center Auditorium, Mercer Island. Admission is free for JGSWS members; others, $5.

Paul Shapiro led the Museum’s effort to obtain the international cooperation necessary to open the archives of the International Tracing Service—the largest and last major inaccessible collection of Holocaust-related records anywhere. He has also led the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s effort to provide focused leadership to the field of Holocaust Studies in the US and abroad. A member of the Congressionally-mandated Interagency Working Group on Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records, Shapiro serves on the Academic Advisory Committee of the Center for Jewish History in New York.

In 2003-4 he wrote major sections of the final report of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, chaired by Elie Wiesel. Before joining the Museum, he served at the United States Information Agency and Department of State, where he was responsible for the Fulbright Fellowship Program and other major international exchange programs.

Shapiro was an editor of the journal "Problems of Communism" and editor-in-chief of the "Journal of International Affairs." He was a consultant to the Board for International Broadcasting, Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty, and the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI).

With a BA degree in Government (Harvard University), a Master of International Affairs and a Master of Philosophy degree in History (Columbia University), he has been a Fulbright scholar, an IREX scholar, and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Eurasian Studies at The George Washington University.

Program Background:

The International Tracing Service (ITS) archive, located in Bad Arolsen, Germany was established by the Allied powers after WWII to help trace missing family members and reunite families.

Contents of the archives remained closed to the public until this year. The archive contains millions of pages of documentation captured during the liberation of concentration camps. Sixteen linear miles of shelving are required to hold all of the files.

The archive now contains approximately 50 million digital images providing documentation on 17.5 million people arrested, deported, killed, forced into slave labor or displaced from homes to which they were never able to return.

CBS’s “60 Minutes” ran a poignant story (updated in 2007) about the opening of these archives bringing several camp survivors back to see their own records. You can view that segment here.

Click here for more details, directions and future programs.

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