Nazi archive celebrates opening of its archives with public ceremony

A vast archive of German war records, including concentration camp logs detailing Nazi horrors, formally opened to visitors Wednesday, more than six decades after it was founded to provide information about the victims of the Holocaust. "We are turning over a new leaf in the history of the ITS," Reto Meister, the director of the International Tracing Service of the Red Cross, said at a ceremony in Bad Arolsen, where records scooped up by Allied troops from concentration camps, Nazi SS offices and postwar displaced-persons compounds are housed. Since the Red Cross took over the administration of the archive in the 1950s, the facility was used exclusively by its staff to answer queries about missing persons or to search for records to support compensation payments. Survivors or the relatives and historical researchers had to rely on formalistic replies to questions, but had no direct access themselves. "This opening will contribute to keeping alive the remembrance of the monstrous crimes that went on throughout Nazi era. And at the same it will promote our work with research institutions, memorials and museums," he said.