Researchers to View Millions of Nazi Files

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Millions of Nazi files detailing the suffering and deaths of inmates at labor and concentration camps during the Holocaust will be opened to researchers under an agreement signed Wednesday by Germany and seven other countries.

Historians campaigned for years to overcome privacy concerns that restricted access to the more than 30 million documents in the vast, war-era archive to Holocaust victims and their relatives.

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 western German town of Bad Arolsen.

Israel, the United States and Britain were among the nations that signed Wednesday, and three others are expected to do so by Nov. 1.

"There are many questions where we don't have the answers and I hope researchers will be able to clear things up with the aid of this material," Israeli Ambassador Shimon Stein said.

The protocol still needs to be ratified by most of the 11 signatory states before the archives can be opened. German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries has said researchers would have access by Dec. 31.

German Deputy Foreign Minister Guenter Gloser called the process "long and sometimes cumbersome" but said the result represented a "big success for researchers."

"For Germany, the signing underlines the importance it attaches to dealing with the past," he said.

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