Archive for Sunday, November 19, 2006

Archive opening to reveal largest Holocaust record

November 19, 2006

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— The bound ledger with frayed binding contains a list of Jews rounded up in Holland and transported to Nazi death camps. Among the names is "Frank, Annelise M," her date of birth (June 12, 1929), Amsterdam address before she went into hiding (Merwedeplein 37) and the date she was sent to a concentration camp (Sept. 3, 1944).

Frank, Annelise M. is Anne Frank.

Six months later, at age 15, she died an anonymous death, one of some 35,000 casualties of typhus that ravaged the Bergen-Belsen camp. After the war, "The Diary of Anne Frank," written during her 25 months hiding in a tiny apartment with seven others, would become the most widely read book ever written on the Holocaust.

The details about Anne Frank are among the millions of documents held by the International Tracing Service, or ITS, an arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The vast archive contains 16 miles of files in six buildings in a German town. It's the fullest record of Nazi persecutions in existence. The ITS, due to privacy concerns, has kept the files closed for half a century, but the policy is about to change.

In May, after years of pressure from the U.S. and survivors' groups, the 11 countries overseeing the archive agreed to unseal the files for scholars as well as victims and their families.

It may take a year or more for the files to open fully. Until then, access is tightly restricted.

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