Media Contact: Fred L. Turner
Washington, DC - The House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday marked-up and reported out H. Res. 240, legislation authored by U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) Chairman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) urging all European nations to allow for open access to the Holocaust archives in Bad Arolsen, Germany. The bipartisan legislation received unanimous support from the whole Foreign Affairs Committee and is expected to be considered by the full House following the House's April recess.
“I am deeply appreciative that the Foreign Affairs Committee marked-up this critical legislation today. It is beyond shameful that 62 years after the Holocaust ended, the Holocaust archives located in Bad Arolsen remain closed,” said Representative Hastings today. “These archives are a testament and memorial to the suffering and bravery that united all Holocaust victims of all ethnic communities. It is imperative that we open these archives to Holocaust researchers now, while survivors still remain among us, so researchers can benefit from the insights of eyewitnesses.”
The Holocaust archives located in Bad Arolsen remain the largest closed Second World War-era archives in the world. Inside the archives are 50 million records that disclose the fate of some 17.5 million individual victims of Nazism. In order to allow for open access to these important archives, each of the 11 members of the International Commission of the International Tracing Service (ITS) (the United States, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom) must individually ratify through their respective parliaments the May 2006 amendments to the 1955 Bonn Accords. To date, however, only 5 out of the 11 Commission member countries (the United States, Israel, Poland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) have ratified the treaty.
In February 2007, United States Representative Hastings resolution led two additional bipartisan efforts with over 40 other Members of Congress to the German, British, French, Italian, Belgium, Greek, and Italian ambassadors urging these Commission member countries to expedite the ratification process.
“Today's actions serve as a reminder to all countries that we are watching them to ensure they fulfill their obligations under the signed amendments to the Bonn Accords,” said Representative Hastings. “These states have an opportunity before the next International Tracing Service Commission member meeting in May to fulfill their previous pledges and allow for open access to the archives. For the remaining Holocaust survivors there is no time for further delay.”
Representative Hastings is schedule to be the lead witness at a hearing today in the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe titled “Opening up of the Bad Arolsen Holocaust archives in Germany.” The hearing will occur at 1:30 PM in room 2255 Rayburn House Office Building.
Also testifying will be officials from the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA, Inc., and National Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors (NAHOS).
To view the copy of Chairman Hastings' resolution click here.
To read Chairman Hastings' testimony click here.