Germany to open Nazi files

Deputy Foreign Minister Guenter Gloser to sign protocol in Berlin Wednesday.

nazi archive 298 88 (photo credit: AP)
nazi archive 298 88
(photo credit: AP)
Germany will sign an agreement Wednesday to open to researchers an archive of millions of Nazi files that describe how the Holocaust was carried out, the German Foreign Ministry said. The accord was reached in April by the 11-nation governing body of the International Tracing Service, the arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross that oversees the archive in the German town of Bad Arolsen. Deputy Foreign Minister Guenter Gloser will formally sign the protocol in the presence of representatives of the other 10 nations at a ceremony in Berlin, the ministry said Monday. Ambassador William Timken Jr. will sign the agreement on behalf of the United States, the US Embassy said. The opening respects the "strong interest of current research" in opening the archive, the German Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "The signing also underlines the high value that the government places on dealing with the past." Once signed, the protocol needs to be ratified by all 11 signatory states before the archives can be opened. Aging Holocaust survivors and victims' families had pressed for the change, arguing that the histories of their loved ones could otherwise be lost. Germany had said that access to the files by Holocaust researchers would violate its privacy laws, but dropped its objection earlier this year. Under a 1955 treaty, information is currently only given out to former victims. A third party can only access the archives with the written consent of a former victim.