UNITED NATIONS (May. 19)
Israel received Monday copies of 347 files on Nazi war criminals from the UN archives, compiled by the long-defunct UN War Crimes Commission.
The files were given to Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN — who was escorted by Yitzhak Arad, chairman of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Memorial and Research Institute on the Holocaust in Jerusalem — at the UN archives which are stored at 345 Park Avenue South in Manhattan. They addressed a press conference later.
Israel recently asked to inspect the UN archives to see if they contain files on any of 1,379 Nazi war criminals still wanted by Israel. According to Netanyahu, the 347 files obtained by Israel Monday were the only ones which corresponded with the list submitted by Israel earlier.
According to Arad, “the information stored in the UN archives is of enormous value to the Holocaust research done by Yad Vashem.” He said that among the files Israel received Monday there are names of leaders of “the Nazi murder system.” He said the files will be sent soon to Yad Vashem for closer inspection.
URGES FILES BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Netanyahu, who spoke at the press conference, called on UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar to open all the files in the UN archives to the public. Noting that the rules of confidentiality governing access to the files were determined by the UN Secretariat, the Israeli envoy said that “it was this confidentiality that enabled such things as the election of Kurt Waldheim to be Secretary General of the UN.”
Waldheim, who is accused of having a Nazi past, is one of 40,000 suspected Nazis whose files are in the UN archives. Israel obtained his file recently.
“There is no reason whatsoever why these self-imposed rules of confidentiality should not be immediately lifted,” Netanyahu said, adding that “the decision is in the hands of the Secretary General and the Secretary General alone.” Netanyahu, however, praised the cooperation of the UN so far on Israel’s request to inspect files of Nazi war criminals.