The National Archives here has released to the public its first installment of the world’s largest collection of Nazi war records.
The Archives’ Center for Captured German and Related Documents released 4,000 of the 40,000 rolls of microfilm it received from the Berlin Document Center in Germany over the summer, said reference archivist Timothy Mulligan.
The 4,000 roles, which are copies of documents from the Berlin center, contain SS officer and SS personnel files, Mulligan said.
The remaining documents will be released after they are copied and catalogued, the said noting that archivists expect to complete the project by mid-1996.
since 1945, the files have been a critical source of information for historians, Nazi hunters and prosecutors.
In June, the State Department gave control of the Berlin Center to the German government.
The turnover sparked concern in the Jewish community and among members of Congress about continued access to the records in Germany.
Those concerned with the transition said it has been smooth so far, but cautioned it was too soon to tell what effect the change would have on future access.
“The records are as accessible to researchers as they were when the State Department was running the center,” Mulligan said.
“So far, we haven’t had any complaints about access to records” in Germany, said Rep. Charles Schumer, (D-N.Y), who founded and now chair the Berlin Document Center Monitoring Group.
“But I still think we need to maintain a vigilant watch over it,” he said.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has not had any problems getting information from the Berlin Center since the changeover, said Mark Weitzman, the Wiesenthal Center’s national associate director of educational outreach.
“Right now, it hasn’t affected our work in any manner,” he said. “but we’re concerned with what will happen down the line, in five years when Kohl’s government is out and the spotlight is off.”