August 11, 2007

New Jersey man urging Italy to open Holocaust archive

It will enable archivists to determine just how many people were murdered in Italy. How many gypsies were sent to death camps? Which corporations were providing poison gas? How did the people who were carrying out the atrocities distance themselves from what they were doing? From The Daily Record:

A Morristown man who is interning with the Helsinki Commission in Washington, D.C., hand-delivered a letter signed by 42 members of Congress to the Italian Embassy, seeking to open Holocaust-era archives that have been sealed for six decades.

The letter, delivered by Mark Hadzewycz, 23, was a culmination of the commission's effort to pressure members of the Italian parliament to open to scholars and the public 30 million pages of documentation once maintained by Nazi Germany and its allies during the Holocaust.

In May 2006, the 11 countries that govern the International Tracing Service, which oversees the Bad Arolsen Holocaust Archives in Germany, agreed to open the archives. But first each member country has to formally amend the 1955 Bonn Agreement, which has kept the archives essentially sealed, except for a process by which relatives can ask to have individual names looked up with no guarantee of when, if ever, they'll get a response.

Once opened, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum would be one of several centers to receive a digital copy of the archives.

"It's a shame that it's taken so long to get it open to the public," Hadzewycz said.

Hadzewycz, a graduate student of Ukrainian history at Rutgers University, has been living behind the Supreme Court in student housing since June. He applied to intern at the Helsinki Commission partly because it frequently came up in his research, he said.

Eight countries already have ratified the amendment, and Greece is scheduled to approve the amendment within the month. France has said it will ratify the amendment when parliament convenes in September. That leaves only Italy.
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