February 17, 2007
USHMM’S LETTER TO THE EDITOR IN RESPONSE TO THIS WEEK’S STORY ON NEWLY DISCOVERED FRANK FAMILY CORRESPONDENCE
A Plea to Open the Holocaust Files
Published: February 17, 2007, The New York Times
To the Editor:
Re “In Old Files, Fading Hopes of Anne Frank’s Family” (New York Times, front page, Feb. 15):
The discovery of Otto Frank’s correspondence seeking help in escaping Nazism shows that important Holocaust documentation remains to be found. More than 60 years later, information about the most well-known family from the Holocaust is still being discovered - as is other important documentation.
The International Tracing Service archive in Germany, which is administered by the International Red Cross, contains an estimated 40 million pages on the fates of some 17 million individual victims. It is the largest closed Holocaust-era archive in the world. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has for years been working to make these materials available to survivors and their families as well as to scholars.
Last April, the German justice minister announced at the museum that Germany would change its longstanding policy and work to open the archive. But the archive is overseen by a group of 11 countries, each of which must ratify this decision. To date, only the United States, Israel and Poland have done so.
On March 7, representatives from the 11 countries will meet in the Netherlands and have a chance to end this disgraceful situation. In light of the outrageous comments from the president of Iran calling the Holocaust a myth, the opening of this archive could not be more urgent.
Sara J. Bloomfield
Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Washington, Feb. 15, 2007