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German holocaust archive to be opened { May 16 2006 }

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German Holocaust archive to be opened
Tue May 16, 2006 3:33 PM ET

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German archive containing millions of documents from the Second World War will be opened to historians and Holocaust scholars for the first time.

The 11-nation committee which oversees the International Tracing Service (ITS) agreed in Luxembourg on Tuesday to change its mandate to allow historians to mine the information it contains, Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, said in a statement.

"Yad Vashem welcomes the decision by the International Commission for the ITS to open the archives at Bad Arolsen in Germany," it said in a statement.

The detailed archive, which contains some 50 million documents relating to 17 million individuals, had been used by the ITS, part of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), to answer queries from the families of victims.

Historians hope, however, that the efficient bureaucracy of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime will now prove a rich source of detail about the Holocaust.

"We are pleased that after 60 years, the millions of written proofs for the Nazi mass murder against Jews will be open for researchers," Averner Tavori, a spokesman for the World Jewish Congress, said in a statement.

Germany relaxed its opposition to the move earlier this year, after its concerns over data protection were allayed.

A working group will be established to develop rules for access and recommend how to prioritize a plan to make a digital copy of the archive, Yad Vashem said.

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