US official urges Europe to open Nazi archives

The US House of Representatives is urging five countries to speed up the opening of a secret Nazi archive that documents the lives and deaths of millions of World War II concentration camp inmates. In a resolution passed with bipartisan support Wednesday, the House urged the international commission that controls access to the archives ratify changes in a 1955 international agreement on the management of the files to make them public. Until recently the archives held in Bad Arolsen, Germany, had been kept in secrecy. "It is beyond shameful that for 62 years, Holocaust survivors, their families and historians continue to be denied immediate access to Nazi archives," Hastings said in a statement. The Bad Arolsen archives contain 30 million to 50 million pages of documents that record the individual fates of more than 17 million victims of Nazi persecution, the resolution says. The files have been used since the 1950s to help determine the fate of people who disappeared during the Third Reich and, later, to validate claims for compensation.