International Red Cross Takes over Arolsen Archives in Germany

The International Tracing Service at Arolsen, Germany, which is a complete catalogue of all those imprisoned and done to death in Nazi concentration camps liberated by the troops of the Western Powers, as well as a catalogue of instructions from Hitler, Himmler and other top Nazis for the extermination of European Jewry, will be administered by the International Red Cross under an international committee. Hanan Cidor, an Israel official, revealed at a press conference here today.

Mr. Cidor director of the Division for International Organizations of the Israel Foreign Ministry and head of a committee in Israel on the Arolsen archives, speaking at the Israel Embassy said that the international committee which will be responsible for the archives will consist of representatives on the ambassadorial level, of the following states: United States, France, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg Italy, Israel and Germany.

For the first five years, the Bonn Government will bear the administrative costs of approximately 1.5 million deutschemarks annually. After that time, the international committee will decide what to do about the future of the archives. The pact setting up the administration of the files was initialed at Bonn last week two days before Germany became a sovereign state, Mr. Cidor revealed. It will be signed in June.

Mr. Cidor disclosed that nongovernmental organizations with a special interest in the archives will be allowed to participate in meetings of the international committee, but without voting rights.

He said he was present at the closing of negotiations with a British microfilming organization to copy the entire Arolsen collection of about twenty million documents for the Yad Veshem, Israel memorial library for the 6,000,000 Jewish martyrs of Nazism The microfilming operation will take a year to complete. He pointed out that duplicating the Arolsen documents was essential because the whole International Tracing Service was “an organization of paper and wood” whose records and filing cases needed only a match to send it up in flames.

Thus through the initiative of the Israel Government, Mr. Cidor stressed, the documents on which former concentration camp inmates rely for support of their compensation claims will not pass to the German Government, although they will remain in Germany. To achieve this end, he disclosed, it had been necessary to overcome the opposition of Germany. The Germans, he said, claimed that their Constitution forbade financial support of any but national institution–something which Mr. Cidor disproved.

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