16 May 2006
Yad Vashem welcomes the decision by the International Commission for the International Tracing Service to open the archives at Bad Arolsen in Germany. The commission, consisting of representatives from 11 States including Israel, was held today in Luxemburg. According to Yad Vashem’s experts, the material in the archive will provide more information on the forced labor and concentration camps, and will provide Holocaust victims names added to the archive since Yad Vashem received 20 million pages of the archive in the early 1960s.
In order to organize the way the archives are accessed, the committee established a working group of national senior high-level archival and technical experts, including a Yad Vashem representative. The working group will study the archives and present a special report to the ITS detailing the holdings at Bad Arolsen, including a list of collections already digitized. It will also determine the current status of the digitization project. In addition, the group will develop rules for access to documents and make recommendations regarding the prioritization of collections to be digitized and regarding possible measures to increase the rate of digitization.
Yad Vashem Chairman of Directorate Avner Shalev noted:
“This is an important step in the process of opening wartime archives in Europe. We believe that a Yad Vashem representative in the group will contribute greatly, due to the knowledge and experience gained from working at Yad Vashem, digitizing archive information and presenting it to the general public.”
Shalev added that
“the ITS’ agreement today was made possible due to the important efforts of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum which contributed greatly to opening the archive, and the Israel Foreign Ministry, which was instrumental in bringing part of the archive to Yad Vashem in the 1950s.”