Nazi archive opens, ending 60 years of secrecy
The treasure of documents could open new avenues of study into the inner workings of Nazi persecution from the exploitation of slave labor to the conduct of medical experiments. The archive's managers planned a conference of scholars next year to map out its unexplored contents.
The files entrusted to the International Tracing Service, an arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross, have been used to find the fate of missing persons or document atrocities to support compensation claims. The U.S. government also has referred to the ITS for background checks on immigrants it suspected of lying about their past.
Inquiries were handled by the archive's 400 staff members in the German spa town of Bad Arolsen. Few outsiders were allowed to see the actual documents, which number more than 50 million pages and cover 16 linear miles of gray metal filing cabinets and cardboard binders spread over six buildings.
On Wednesday, the Red Cross and the German government announced that the last of the 11 countries that govern the archive had ratified a 2006 agreement to open the files to the public for the first time.
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