Representatives of leading US Jewish organizations praised Thursday the significance of an archive of Nazi-era documents in Germany and the way it helps people trace the lives of relatives caught up in the Holocaust. The group spent several days visiting the Bad Arolsen-based archive of the International Tracing Service, delving into the World War II-era histories of families, friends and acquaintances. The archive, opened in 2007, is under the administration of the International Committee of the Red Cross. "Opening the archive to historical research is a huge step that we applaud immensely," said Aron Hirt-Manheimer, editor of the magazine of the Union of Reform Judaism. Representatives of the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, Daniel Mariaschin and B'nai B'rith International also participated. In all, 12 US organizations were represented. Hirt-Manheimer, the son of Holocaust survivors, said he was able to piece together details of his father's journey from the Auschwitz death camp to the United States - including how he escaped a transport train only to be shot, hospitalized and sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria.