International Archival Programs
Collecting, preserving, and making available documentary evidence of the Holocaust to scholars, survivors, and the general public is one of the highest priorities of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This massive documentary record, scattered to virtually every country, clearly shows the enormity of the crime and its implications. This critical evidence of the Holocaust is endangered, however, and the dispersal of materials hinders expedient and productive use by researchers and survivors alike.
The Museum’s highly trained and motivated team in the International Archival Programs Division (IAPD) travels the world to locate and evaluate original documentation and arrange for its reproduction and acquisition by the Museum, thereby making millions of pages of documents readily available in one location to scholars and the general public. Acquiring Holocaust records is difficult work, however, and often an endeavor of discovery. A tremendous amount of material is still buried—and perhaps even forgotten—in the repositories of governments and municipalities, Jewish communities, private companies, banks, and other institutions, as well as in the private collections of individuals, worldwide. Many collections also remain classified or restricted, and thus unavailable to individual researchers. Distinguished scholar Professor Raul Hilberg estimates that only 20 percent of Holocaust records have been analyzed to date.
To locate and retrieve these materials, the Museum’s IAPD staff conducts search and acquisition programs in over 40 countries and as an agency of the U.S. Government, has successfully opened previously sealed governmental archives and made the records readily accessible. Impressive amounts of institutional, communal, and private documentation have also surfaced in locations where Jewish communities may have disappeared or were diminished by the Holocaust, thereby leaving these records at very high risk, in fragile condition, or endangered due to inadequate storage, poor paper quality, and the passage of time.
The Museum’s Archives currently house nearly 42 million pages of records and are rapidly becoming the world’s foremost and most accessible repository of primary-source Holocaust documentation, including major holdings of over one million pages each from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. Smaller collections contain unique materials from a great variety of repositories, such as the Vatican archives; the Natural History Museum in Vienna; the State Archives of Kazakhstan; the International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva; and the Shanghai Municipal Archive. The diversity of collections easily accessible at the Museum make it a unique facility for conducting research on the Holocaust; a facility that is already having a significant impact on the field of Holocaust studies, in publications, public forums, and in teaching the Holocaust on American campuses.
Archival evidence is also a fundamental resource for confronting Holocaust denial, contemporary antisemitism, and racist ideology, as well as for challenging national myths about the Holocaust. The recent gathering of an International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania and its resulting 400-page detailed report relied on the more than one million pages of documentation that the Museum collected from Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, and elsewhere.
Although some collections are not fully catalogued, all are available for research to scholars, survivors, and the general public. In addition to the Museum’s online catalogs, the Center has compiled an Archival Guide to the Collections of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and an index of Jewish Source Archival Resources at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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Contact the Reference Archivist
Requests for information on specific archival collections or to make arrangements for conducting onsite research in the reading rooms can be directed to the reference desk using this form.
Contact the Center about International Acquisitions
For inquiries regarding current international archival collection activity, please contact:
Radu Ioanid, Ph.D.
International Archival Programs
Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW
Washington, DC 20024-2126