House urges greater archives access

The U.S. House of Representatives urged authorities to facilitate access for Holocaust survivors to a massive archive.

The non-binding resolution passed Tuesday by voice vote “encourages the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the International Committee of the Red Cross to act with all possible urgency to create appropriate conditions to ensure survivors, their families, and researchers have direct access to the archives, and are offered effective assistance in navigating and interpreting these archives.”

The museum, along with Holocaust remembrance authorities in other nations, late last year received the first electronic version of the Red Cross-administered archives in Bad Arolsen, Germany. Some U.S. survivor groups have said that the current process, which can take up to six weeks, is too slow and remote; staffers instead of survivors conduct the searches.

Museum officials have said that creating a fully searchable version of the massive archives would cost millions of dollars.

The resolution, introduced by Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla,) also expressed appreciation to the 11 nations that ratified the agreement to open the archives, ending a decades-long effort to gain access. A similar resolution is under consideration in the Senate.

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