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U.N. Announces Wider Access to Archives of Nazi War Crimes

November 06, 1987|Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. secretary general today announced broader access by governments and individuals to Nazi war crimes archives that have been virtually sealed for almost 40 years.

A statement issued by Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar set out the ground rules giving more leeway to governments and individual researchers or others with government approval to investigate the files. Individuals previously were barred from examining the files sealed after World War II.

The guidelines could also allow press access to the approximately 8,000 files on more than 36,000 people.

The 17-member U.N. War Crimes Commission, disbanded in 1948 and subsequently revived, recommended last week that the files be made available on a broader basis to governments and for the first time to individuals affiliated with an institution of higher learning, a research center or professional society.

The commission had been revived to consider the issue of access. For two years it had wrestled with the issue of disclosing raw file information, which might be unsubstantiated and could harm the reputation of innocent individuals.

Eyal Arad, press officer for the Israeli mission, said his government is pleased with the decision and will set up a fund for researchers.

Israel and Jewish groups launched a campaign last year for full public access to the files after the discovery that one included material on Kurt Waldheim, the former U.N. secretary general who is now president of Austria.

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