UNITED NATIONS (Dec. 10)
A U.N. official declined to comment Thursday on a report that most of the 432 files missing from the U.N. war crimes archives had been located.
U.N. spokesman Francois Giuliani did say, however, that the investigation into the missing files, ordered Tuesday by Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, was complete and that the results would be given to the secretary general Thursday night and made public Friday.
The New York Times reported Thursday that U.N. officials had located virtually all of the files reported missing and that the rest are expected to be found shortly. The Times attributed its report to U.N. officials whom it did not name.
Israeli diplomats told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency they also had heard “the rumors” of the found files, but had no evidence.
The archives, stored in a Manhattan building, contain 8,100 files with documents on more than 40,000 Nazi war criminals and their collaborators. They were compiled by the Allied War Crimes Commission and placed in U.S. custody in 1947, after which the commission disbanded.
They were accessible only to the governments of U.N. member states until Perez de Cuellar ordered them opened to scholars, researchers and historians on Nov. 23.
The disclosure that more than 400 of the files had “mysteriously vanished” was made Tuesday in a New York Post article by its Middle East correspondent, Uri Dan. Dan was the first journalist given access to the files under the recent order.
‘SURPRISED AND DISTURBED’
His revelation, confirmed by the director of the archives, Alf Erlandsson, “surprised and disturbed” the secretary general, a U.N. spokesman said Wednesday, and he ordered a full investigation.
According to Dan, Erlandsson confirmed that the missing files include documents submitted by France, Britain, the United States and Belgium, all relating to atrocities committed by Germans.
The investigation was headed by Richard Foran, U.N. assistant secretary general for general services. He visited the archives Thursday morning to complete it.
According to the spokesman, the investigation would try to determine, among other things, whether the missing files were separated from the archives while they were in U.N. custody or if they were even received. He said these files may have been legally withdrawn from the archives for unspecified reasons.
Dan reported that the missing files included Yugoslavian documents relating to the wartime activities of President Kurt Waldheim of Austria.