May 18, 2006
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM WELCOMES DECISION TO OPEN INTERNATIONAL TRACING SERVICE ARCHIVES IN GERMANY
Copying records will assist families of victims and scholars
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum welcomes the decision by the International Commission of the International Tracing Service (ITS) to permit each of the eleven nations on the Commission to receive copies of the records held at its archive in Bad Arolsen, Germany.
“The Museum has pressed for many years to make the ITS archives available to Holocaust survivors and researchers,” said Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. “Agreeing to its opening marks the beginning of an important process. We now look forward to working with the International Committee of the Red Cross to make them available to Holocaust research institutions in a timely fashion. We intend to make them available at the Museum in Washington. This process must move as quickly as possible to serve the urgent needs of elderly survivors who deserve to know what happened to their families. This is a moral obligation that we all share.”
The decision to open the archive was announced on May 16 after two days of intense negotiations during a meeting of the International Commission of the International Tracing Service held in Luxembourg. The International Commission, comprised of eleven nations including the United States, oversees the ITS archives, which are administered by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Opening the archives required a unanimous vote among Commission member states. It is the largest closed Holocaust-era archive in the world, containing an estimated 50 million pages of documents.
Situated among our national monuments to freedom, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is both a memorial to the past and a living reminder of the moral obligations of individuals and societies. The Museum fulfills its mission through a public/private partnership in which federal support guarantees the institution’s permanence and hundreds of thousands of donors nationwide make possible its educational activities and global outreach. More than 23 million people – including more than 8 million schoolchildren – have visited the Museum since it opened in 1993, and through its Web site, traveling exhibitions and educational programs, the Museum reaches millions more every year.