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Holocaust archive hearing set

The chairman of a House subcommittee on Europe will hold a hearing to encourage nations on that continent to open the Bad Arolsen Holocaust archive in Germany. U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe, will hold the hearing Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.The archive is believed to contain up to 50 million documents pertaining to the lives of 17 million people who passed through World War II concentration camps. Activists are urging that the archive be made public, and Wexler is pushing for the United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and other countries to ratify changes to the Boon Accord, which would make Holocaust records publicly accessible.

“It is unconscionable that 60 years after the end of World War II, Holocaust survivors are still unable to fully access the Nazi archives at Bad Arolsen,” said Wexler, who is Jewish. “I am hopeful this hearing will shed light on this delay and the need to bring closure to one of the darkest periods in the history of humankind.” The hearing will feature speeches by Holocaust survivors and activists, including David Schaecter, president of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA in Florida, and Leo Rechter, president of the National Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. The State Department’s special Holocaust envoy, J. Christian Kennedy, and Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), chairman of the Helsinki Commission, also will attend.