Before the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was built, the President’s Commission on the Holocaust called for the creation of “an archive of Holocaust materials” that would “enable both the general public and specialized scholars to study the record of the Holocaust.” Achieving the Commission’s goals relating to remembrance, education, and conscience required that the documentation of the Holocaust be preserved. Nearly a quarter century later, the archival holdings of the Museum are approaching eighteen million pages, and we can anticipate that those collections will double, triple, or quadruple in size over the next decade.
The “record of the Holocaust” has been scattered to virtually every country and is massive, reflecting the enormity of the crime and its implications. In the countries that were directly involvedas perpetrator states, occupied territories, at war on one side or the other, as places of refuge for targeted victims, as “neutrals” in a time of mass murder, as potential resettlement sites for survivors, as possible safe havens for perpetrators at war’s end, as recipients of looted propertythe Holocaust affected virtually every aspect of national lifegovernmental, economic, military, social, religious, intellectual. Its implementation and impact are recorded in government archives and institutional and personal papers worldwide.
Collecting the record of the Holocaust continues at the Museum as a major program of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies and the Museum’s Collections Division. The Center’s International Archival Acquisitions Program, in consultation with the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, is currently engaged in survey, evaluation, and collection projects in forty countries. This involves work in national, regional, and local archival repositories; in the records of Jewish organizations, of businesses and churches; and in the private collections of individuals who were in some way involved. The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc., has provided extraordinary support to the Museum’s international archival collection effort, support that we are happy to acknowledge here.
This Archival Guide to the Collections of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has been prepared by Brewster S. Chamberlin, who from the late-1980s until 2001 directed the Museum’s international archival collection effort, and by Carl Modig, a member of the staff of the International Archival Acquisition Program. The Archival Guide represents the Museum’s first attempt to present systematically in one place a comprehensive summary of “the record of the Holocaust” that it has collected. The opportunities for research and discovery in the collections listed are many.
It is the Museum’s hope that this Archival Guide, updated editions that may from time to time be prepared, and the searchable version that will be available on the Museum’s Web site (www.ushmm.org) will enhance the accessibility of our institution’s research collections and stimulate growing numbers of scholars as well as the general public to use them.
Sara J. Bloomfield
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Paul A. Shapiro
Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies