Open the Holocaust archives



Miami Herald: Which is worse: That millions of Holocaust documents have been hidden from the public for 60 years or that their stewards, even after agreeing in May to allow access to those documents, have yet to do so? The United States and Israel, who already have done their part, must press the nine other country-stewards to ratify opening the Nazi archives at Bad Arolsen, Germany.
The U.S. government and Congress also should ensure that aging Holocaust survivors gain full access and that they can use documents found to support and reopen restitution claims, regardless of previous denials or legal deadlines. Too many survivors already have died without knowing the fates of loved ones. Nor have they gotten any justice through compensation.
For decades survivors have searched for answers to the unspeakable horror perpetuated by the Nazis. Some never found out how or where parents, siblings or children died. Others have sought restitution for stolen belongings, bank accounts and insurance payouts. Survivors forced into slave labor have fought legal battles for a pittance in compensation. In most, if not all, of the legal cases, the Nazi victims did not have access to the primary documents from firms or the Nazi administration itself.
Miles of records
The Bad Arolsen records, administered by an arm of the International Red Cross, offer 16 linear miles of concentration-camp registrations, death lists, displaced-person files and all the minutiae collected by meticulous Nazi record-keepers. The Nazis forced concentration-camp prisoners to turn over their assets. Thus, records of bank accounts, insurance policies and other belongings may well exist in those archives. Those records will reaffirm the terrible reality of the Holocaust. They could also reverse miscarriages of justice in survivor's claims.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Joseph Biden, D-Del., commendably has urged the nine overseer governments to quickly move to open the Bad Arolsen archives.

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