Sunday, March 29, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Holocaust Museum opens UN archive on WWII crimes

By
From page A7 | July 18, 2014 |

UN War Crimes Archive

FILE - This Feb. 23, 2012, file photo shows a section of the 184 reels of microfilm of transferred documents of World War II criminals, which are kept in a locked room in a building near the U.N. complex in New York. A largely unknown archive documenting thousands of cases against World War II criminals, from Hitler to many average participants in the Holocaust who were never brought to trial, are being made public and unrestricted for the first time at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington after being locked away for decades at the United Nations. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

WASHINGTON — From Adolf Hitler down to the petty bureaucrats who staffed the Nazi death camps, thousands of perpetrators of World War II war crimes were eventually written up in vast reams of investigative files — files that now, for the first time, can be viewed in their entirety by the public.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington has obtained a full copy of the U.N. War Crimes Commission archive that has largely been locked away for the past 70 years under restricted access at the United Nations. On Thursday, the museum announced it has made the entire digital archive freely available to visitors in its research room.

Although information in the documents has long been known to investigators and historians, the public was kept out. Even researchers at the U.N. must petition for access through their governments.

Many of those named in the archive were never held accountable.

In addition to the allegations of mass murder against Hitler and his high-level henchmen, the files list thousands of obscure but no less horrendous cases from across Europe and Asia. There is Franz Angerer, a member of the Gestapo, accused of rounding up inmates in Sosnowiec, Poland, to send to Auschwitz.

Helmut Steinmetz in Warsaw, Poland, was accused of murdering a crippled Jewish man he met on the street, as well as killing a railroad porter with a stick for refusing to carry his luggage.

And Elimar Luder Precht, who served as chief dentist at several concentration camps, was accused of selecting Auschwitz inmates for execution based on whether they had gold or platinum teeth that could be forcibly taken.

The vast collection includes about 500,000 digitized microfilm images with more than 10,000 case files in multiple languages from Europe and Asia on people identified as war criminals. There are also meeting minutes, trial transcripts and 37,000 names listed in a central registry of war criminals and suspects. Some files have lists of personnel at concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Ravensbruck.

While some case files are brief, others are more extensive collections of charging documents, witness statements, correspondence and commission reports. The evidence was submitted by 17 member nations for evaluation to try to assure that war criminals would be arrested and tried, but the war crimes commission was shut down in 1948.

Paul Shapiro, director of the museum’s Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, noted that Cold War politics prevented many war crimes suspects from being prosecuted.

“Most Holocaust perpetrators were never held accountable before the law,” he said. “Many of them were recruited by various governments for work during the Cold War. I don’t want to say only by Western governments, because Soviets also recruited scientists and others.”

Making the records public fosters a degree of belated accountability, he said.

“By enabling people today to study and educate based on records like those of the U.N. War Crimes Commission, we can at least hold those people who committed such atrocities … to account before history,” Shapiro said. “They’re not alive anymore, but what they did shouldn’t be forgotten. We need to learn from what happened in that era.”

For decades, the archive was largely forgotten. In 1987, researchers and historians were granted limited access, but names of witnesses and suspects not convicted of war crimes were kept off limits. Prosecutors and historians with the U.S. Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting unit have used the archive for investigations, as have others in an on-and-off effort to hold Holocaust perpetrators accountable.

The Associated Press reviewed some of the newly accessible records, including a few with links to modern-day denials of responsibility for the Holocaust.

They include charges of mass killings by former Hungarian autocrat Miklos Horthy, who today is being memorialized with statues in Hungary amid rising anti-Semitism.

Horthy, the longtime Hungarian leader, was cited as a head of state in a charging document for leading an unprovoked attack against Yugoslavia in 1941 while Hungary was allied with the Nazis, leading to “massacres, murders and torture.” The charging document from Yugoslavia says Horthy was specifically notified of atrocities by a Hungarian lawmaker in 1942, but the incidents continued.

“The Hungarian authorities at once began to send masses of the Serbian population and Jews to concentration camps,” according to the account. “In April 1944, Jews from this region of Yugoslavia were rounded up and handed over to the German Gestapo and SS troops. The great majority of these Jews died or were killed at the death camps.”

A separate, more extensive charge file from Yugoslavia accused Hungarian leaders of massacring Serbians and Jews in Novi-Sad and other areas of the Balkans. In the Novi-Sad case in January 1942, the document described how a committee of Hungarians and Germans drew up lists to decide which Serbians and Jews should be killed. Those sentenced to death were lined up in groups of 100 to 150 people along the Danube River, stripped of their clothes in cold temperatures and executed with rifles or bayonets.

“Among the victims were a great number of children, even babies, whose mothers held them firmly to their breasts in the hope of protecting them from death and from the cold,” the charging document stated. “It was a scene of horror, ringing with the screams of the mothers and the victims.”

Museum officials said the Hungarian files demonstrate the widespread nature of the Holocaust.

“There is this normal reflex of an average human being who knows something about the Holocaust to think immediately about Germany and about death camps from occupied Poland … when in fact this was a European-wide slaughter in which many, many administrations participated,” said Radu Ioanid, director of the museum’s international archival program that is working to build the most comprehensive collection of Holocaust perpetrator records.

There are also charges against Kurt Waldheim who served in the German army in World War II and went on to become secretary-general of the U.N. in the 1970s. Due to the secrecy surrounding the U.N. war crime records, Waldheim’s Nazi connection wasn’t discovered until his campaign for president of Austria, where he was elected and served from 1986 to 1992.

The accusations were never proven. Waldheim was never taken to trial and he denied any wrongdoing.

The U.S. had no jurisdiction to indict Waldheim but banned him from traveling to the United States, based in part on his documented Nazi connection and a probe that took investigators to Austria, Belgrade and elsewhere.

The archive contains detailed accusations against Hitler and other Nazi leaders.

In the files, Hitler is cited for “murder and mass murder in concentration camps,” ”looting and confiscation of property,” and “torture of civilians” among other offenses. In 1987, Israeli officials studying the records said they found evidence Hitler had personally ordered the deaths of more than 10,000 Jewish women and children in a Latvian village, calling it the first evidence that shows Hitler’s direct participation in the extermination of Jews.

Such files could serve as a starting point for further research in other collections on such perpetrators, historians said.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Vanden High library project nears completion

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Vanden girls end stellar season

By Brian Arnold | From Page: C1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Cheers for Jupiter – and roller derby

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2, 2 Comments

 
Red Cross volunteers help assemble first aid kits

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

PG&E helps replace stolen equipment

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

 
Justin-Siena names new principal

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

 
Vacaville police make arrest after pursuit

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

Vacaville bridal, quinceanera show a hit

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

 
Event benefits child who attends Cambridge School

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Free paper shredding option returns to Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Best barometer of investment success: Wealth

By Mark Sievers | From Page: B8

 
Tips on hydrozoning your garden

By Tina Saravia | From Page: B8, 2 Comments

 
Fairfield police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 2 Comments

 
Suisun City police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Crash victim’s father calls for more focus on pilot welfare

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Experts: Sex bias case will embolden women despite verdict

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Popular Yosemite National Park lookout opens early in season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Some British Airways frequent flier accounts miles breached

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

7 shot and injured at Florida spring break house party

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Boko Haram kills 39, legislator, disrupting Nigeria election

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Official: Al-Shabab siege at Somali hotel ends, 24 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
 
Bird flu found in a top Minnesota turkey producing county

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Islamic fighters led by al-Qaida in Syria seize major city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 29, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Pope finds popularity and dissent at 2-year mark

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Truth does not change

By The Rev. Art Zacher | From Page: C3, 12 Comments

Horoscopes: March 29, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B8

 
Daughter choses stepdad over father to walk her down the aisle

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B8

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Second Julie Andrews memoir expected in 2017

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Chrissie Hynde memoir coming in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

.

Sports

 
Warriors beat Bucks 108-95, clinch top seed in West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Wisconsin heads to Final Four after 85-78 win over Arizona

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Burns scores winner in SO to lift Sharks past Flyers, 3-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Jenest pitches SCC baseball team to shutout of Contra Costa

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

AP sources: Texas fires coach Barnes after 17 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kazmir, Quintana both strong; A’s beat White Sox 10-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Zunino homers twice, but Giants rally to edge Mariners 9-8

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Gordon, Earnhardt among the winners and fans of Martinsville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Prince Bishop wins Dubai World Cup, California Chrome 2nd

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Serena Williams easily wins opening match at Miami Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Power leads Penske sweep in qualifying for IndyCar opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Revolution win first of season, beating Earthquakes 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jimmy Walker leads hometown Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

A glance at women in leadership roles in business worldwide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
For business, more women in charge means bigger profits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

US drillers scrambling to thwart OPEC threat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Test trial to use computer servers to heat homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

.

Obituaries

Betty Mason

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Tiffany Lyn (Helzer) Kemp

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Richard F. Coleman

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
James Lee Lewis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Helen Kalis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carol A. Vose

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics