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Holocaust Files Disclosure

by Harlem Wed Apr 19th, 2006 at 08:46:57 PM EST

On Tuesday in a press conference during her visit to the US, the German Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries announced the intention of Germany to unveil the secret around the Holocaust files that have been in storage in Bad Arolsen for more than sixty years. There are hardly two different opinions about the importance of the information that is going to be unleashed.

After sixty years the German nation finally allows the world to look in depth at its darkest period of history. The completely intentional extermination of more than 17 million people in the concentration camps is a burden that the German nation does not allow itself neither to forget nor to deny, for those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. The sensitivity of the issue, namely the abundance of the uneasy and embarrassing personal details which the data would eventually reveal has prevented so far any German government to let out of control the records. Why is that being done at this moment in time? The real answer to the question can only be guessed. For many years now, there have been strong lobbying either from victims' associations, historians, museum staff, and private individuals, in addition countries like the US, Britain, Israel, and Poland also expressed their desire to open the files. Nevertheless, Germany continued to use its privacy considerations as a shield against them. What may seem a more concrete incentive, though, urging the change of Germany's position, if I may conclude so, appeared on February, in one of the New York Times articles. It accused the Germans of not really recognizing and accepting their past. The claims of course were rebuffed and again the explanation was the protection of the privacy of those who are still alive. Even so, only two months from the publication of the article the government decides to break its "protective" pattern. It is hard to say if it was out of fear of the criticism the general public may express, ascribing an everlasting "bad guy" label or the German desire once and for all to demonstrate before the world how much more altruistic it has grown up to be, got the upper hand. Or else, the explanation may be just a minor technical detail which exempts the legal obligation Germany would otherwise bear for revealing the information, because deadline for bringing lawsuit of international class action has passed. Putting aside the German cooperation, what is now left depends on ten other countries, upon which unanimous vote plus that of Germany (the states beside the aforementioned are: Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) family members and historians are to be granted the access to the documents. The significance:

"We will definitely be able to learn more about individual cases," Jost told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Whether it will lead to a completely different view of the Holocaust, I don't know about that. History will definitely not have to be rewritten." In fact, many are hoping it does just the opposite. Citing rising anti-Semitism, US Holocaust Museum Director Sarah Bloomfield said the possible opening of the archive couldn't be more timely. Historian Frederick Taylor, the British author of "Dresden: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 1945" who is currently working on a new book on the Berlin Wall, says the material held in the archive will not only make it possible for "the millions of individual tragedies that made up the Holocaust to be properly and respectfully recorded," but may also put a damper on the widespread virus of Holocaust denial.
Following that line of thoughts may be the time has also come for the US and in particular the CIA to declassify those hundreds of thousands documented pages that speak about the relationship between the administration and its efforts to recruit Nazi war criminals in order to get access to information that would have given it an advantage against the Soviet Union. Shaking off the past burden is what the German nation has tried to do for more that fifty years, now. Where that is going to take it, only the future will show. What I would like to do is to ask the ET if it supports the reveling of the holocaust files and what would happen if a piece of that information is within the procession of one of its members, would s/he post it on the blog or not?

says the material held in the archive will not only make it possible for "the millions of individual tragedies that made up the Holocaust to be properly and respectfully recorded," but may also put a damper on the widespread virus of Holocaust denial.
(my emphasis).  Given the views of much (some?) of the Muslim world that the Holocaust was a hoax, this will be yet more data showing it was not.  I know that the group that perpetuates this view will likely not ever change because it fits there political agenda.  But for young educated Muslims who are hopefully open to reality, maybe some will be persuaded as this adds data to the story, and may also raise the visibility of the horror for a few years, as the information is dispersed.
by wchurchill on Thu Apr 20th, 2006 at 12:56:32 PM EST
I see how the "argument fits their political agenda "works. In my country, the leader of one of the populist parties (I call it extreme rightist) some time ago has published a book. I happened to have the opportunity to read it. It was full of historical distortions. It not only denied the Holocaust, but went even further saying that it was the outcome of a conspiracy plan designed by Israel and Germany. Unfortunately, he found quite a number of people who believed him, having in mind that the party managed to pass the election threshold (which is 4 percent) with five percent.It is not that he used the holocaust "lie" in his election campaign, but surely some of his most extreme ideas, such as the elimination of the gipsy minority stems from it. As far as "the young educated Muslims who are hopefully open to reality" are concerned, I do hope that you prove right. Although I think that they should first get the necessary information that is to enlighten their delusion. It is in that part that I think they may face a problem, especially if the freedom of speech is monitored and filtered, which would inevitably obstruct the dispersion of those facts.
by Harlem on Thu Apr 20th, 2006 at 07:35:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Harlem I guess you are talking for the Attack or Ataka-the right wing Bulgarian party that profited in the last parliamentary elections by having in their political agenda elimination of the gipsy minority once they get in power.

I am not really sure if the leader of this political party was recently imprisoned for paedophilia and sexual abuse of gipsy male children (at least that was what I read in the Macedonian press). Is he the same man who wrote the book you are mentioning or not?
And I've found this information about him, so it is really surprising that he is allowed to form another political party instead of being in jail.

by pavlovska (transbluency(at)mailcity.com) on Fri Apr 21st, 2006 at 06:15:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you are right. It is the Attack leader that I had in mind. He is the one that claims to have found the root to all Bulgarian problems -the gipsy minority. Also Siderov (the name of the party's leader) truly believes that he has, too, found its solution. He believes that their eradication would redirect the unnecessary funds spent on them toward other sectors of the economy. I see that it is so much easier if one can put a face on a problem, a face that is alive and breathing, but I hope that none of those who voted Siderov truly thinks that gypsies are the real problem of our society. It seems nicer to kill them all instead of trying to integrate them and allow them take their share in our progress. Nevertheless, hatred makes people do strange things.

I am sorry about the confusion I have created. It is Siderov who wrote the book I mentioned. The man you are speaking of is a member of his party. I hope the chief prosecutor deprive him of his immunity so that he can be sentenced.

by Harlem on Fri Apr 21st, 2006 at 01:07:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is at least a small step in the right direcetion.  Crimes against property of course is why they have been kept secret so long, but now that is no longer a factor, the crimes against humanity may be better exposed.

by Keone Michaels on Thu Apr 20th, 2006 at 01:00:24 PM EST
Would you please explain to me what do you mean by " crimes against property of course is why they have been kept secret so long, but now that is no longer a factor." Otherwise the files, I hope, will serve a good cause in polishing the definition "crime against humanity".
by Harlem on Thu Apr 20th, 2006 at 07:36:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In an article they quote

Maria Raabe, spokeswoman for the archive, said: "The Bonn agreements state clearly that the archives should not be opened to historical researchers. There are a large number of documents dealing with sensitive issues such as disease, homosexuality or rape." She said the committee would meet in mid-May at the earliest to reach a decision.

My initial reaction to your article, was Woah, I didn;t know that existed, why did I not know this. All the holocaust deniers would have a much tougher time to do their business, with an archive detailing individuals.

Having read the spoleswomans comment I can understand one of the reasons why it has not been made more public.

I am not familiar enough with the policies of the Birtler Behoerde (which hosts all the Stasi documents). but I assume (based on nothing) that their experience might have lead to a reassesment of the enourmously strict access that existed for this holocaust archive, since they have "similarly detailed information".

So in conclusion, my opinion would be, access not to rummage, while individuals are still alive, but with specific research questions and anonymised results. Those are being presented to the researchers by the archive personnel, that can blacken out individual information that is too sensitive.
No direct access for historians.

by PeWi on Thu Apr 20th, 2006 at 01:14:24 PM EST
You are right that with the opening of the files, exposing so much personal information to those who deny the Holocaust is more likely to disprove them. Yet, what their position usually stems from is not the lack of information, rather it is more like a personal conviction, distortion of facts, the unwillingness to call the black, black and the white, white.

The historians in my opinion should not be banned from accessing so much primary information. Their mission besides the event recording is to prevent the things from repeating, to keep the world conscious alive, so to speak ,and remind the human race of the existence of past, no matter what. This is something that should be spoken of, so that it will not be forgotten. Ever.

by Harlem on Thu Apr 20th, 2006 at 07:37:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I completely agree with this, and yes, there should be more knowledge about this archive and its content, but I regard the individual protection as a very high priority.

A question in my scenario that a historian could ask would be. Well I don't know where to start really.
But from what I know how archives work, they need to be catalogued first - something I would assume is in place - then you establish cross references, but if you stand in front of this huge pile of information you need assistance from those that know it best - the curators.

Their preparation of the information would in my suggestion, not reveal the individual, but the actions against them.

Yes, in history it is easier to become emotionally involved if you know the individual (have you been to the Holocaust Museum in DC? They try to achieve this, with giving you a passport of an individual at the entrance to the museum, and originally you would be told at the end of the tour, if you survived or not....)

However, as for this archive, I would vote for the publication of the abstract information, revealing as much as possible, without the infringing of individuals rights.

by PeWi on Thu Apr 20th, 2006 at 07:51:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but may also put a damper on the widespread virus of Holocaust denial.

No. Holocaust denial is a belief that is immune to any factual evidence.

by MarekNYC on Thu Apr 20th, 2006 at 03:02:25 PM EST
I agree with you because it is not the lack of information that creates the Holocaust deniers. Rather, as you said it is a "belief" which makes it much more difficult to be change. Yet, what the dispersion of the information I expect do is first, makes some of them at least reconsider their position (even one convert is a victory). Second such an information disclosure is very likely to instigate the rewriting of some of the history (text)books that cover that period of time. What this would hopefully do is to educate children while they are still young and thus, if not prevent at least to restrict the number of potential deniers.
The benefit will be for future generations.
by Harlem on Thu Apr 20th, 2006 at 07:38:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I concur with several of the comments posted here. As an American Jew with some family who didn't escape from Poland during the Holocause, I believe that any documentation refuting anti-semitic denial about the Holocaust is important. Especially with the genocide we have today in Darfur and the past decade in Rawanda and Bosnia. We ignore genocide too easily.

As for the Holocaust, too much of the world forgets how important that was to creating the State of Israel. Too much of the world forgets that nobody else in the word, certainly not the continent that allowed six million Jews to be exterminated wanted the Jewish people in their countries.

I am quite critical of much of Israeli policy regarding the Palestinians. The violence has too often been gratiutious and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is illegal. But I also believe that much of vitrolic critcism of Israel is also gratitutious and reflects a double standard. Many of the same countries in Europe and elsewhere are guilty of far worse crimes because of greed while Israel tries to survive in a very hostile neighborhood. Israel is reviled by many simply because they're Jews living there. And Jewish people know that if Israel is eliminated many people will simply look the other way if a "Final Solution" to the "Jewish problem" is ever conceived again.

Hence, from my perspective these documents need to be released forthwith.

Intrepid Liberal Journal

by Intrepid Liberal Journal on Fri Apr 21st, 2006 at 08:05:42 AM EST
Violence is a vicious circle, which someone should break.
by Harlem on Fri Apr 21st, 2006 at 01:27:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As the theme about Holocaust has been discussed in each single perspective and I do not want to contribute with anything trivial, I fervently recommend anyone interested in it to watch "The Pianist" by Roman Polanski.

The Pianist

I'm not ugly,but my beauty is a total creation.Hegel

by Chris on Fri Apr 21st, 2006 at 01:56:28 PM EST
I have not seen the film, but I will.
by Harlem on Fri Apr 21st, 2006 at 04:04:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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