Survivors Rebuke USHMM’s Shapiro and ICRC’s Meister over Bad Arolsen Discord Following Closed Door Meeting

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Editor’s note: This summary and analysis of the Bad Arolsen archive transfer controversy was written by Leo Rechter, elected president of the National Organization of Child Holocaust Survivors, following the January 17, 2008 ICRC-USHMM joint briefing about the Bad Arolsen files. This was the second such controversial closed-door on federal Museum property and was marked by the exclusion of mainstream press.


On January 17th, the National Organization of Child Holocaust Survivors traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend a special, private briefing for survivors’ representatives at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum regarding the International Tracing Services archives held at Bad Arolsen and now transferring to the USHMM.

The Museum staff ran a slide-show, demonstrating how an index card, transferred recently from Bad Arolsen, had provided valuable information to one of the Museum’s Survivor volunteers. After months of work, the Museum has now accrued 50 to 70 million digital images from the Bad Arolsen ITS files. In addition to the index cards, the collection contains camp and ghetto records, Gestapo records, forced labor records, records from DP camps, and migration records. Although those documents refer to about 17.5 million people, Museum officials warn that they are not a complete list of the fate of millions of additional victims and survivors. Twenty on-site computer terminals (on the Museum premises) have been assigned to the tracing service and 25 staffers have been trained to do the searches. The trained staff will presumably not only search the transferred archive, but will also cross-reference it with the Museum’s own archives....

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