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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 November 2007, 14:23 GMT
Vast Nazi archive opens to public
The archive at Bad Arolsen - 28/11/2007
The archive contains details on the fate of millions of the Nazi's victims
A vast archive of wartime German documents on the Nazi Holocaust has been opened to the public.

The 47m documents, kept in Germany, contain detailed records on 17.5m forced labourers, concentration camp victims and political prisoners.

Previously, the files were only used to trace missing persons, reunite families and provide information for compensation claims.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) manages the files.

The whole archive takes up some 26km (16 miles) of shelving in the town of Bad Arolsen in western Germany.

Minute details

The files are not expected to shed dramatic new light on the Nazi regime - already one of the most researched periods of modern history.

But it will provide historians with more details about the murder and exploitation of millions of Jews, Roma (Gypsies) and other victims.

The Nazis kept records on the smallest details - from the number of lice on a prisoner's head to the exact moment of their execution.

Allied forces began gathering the records from concentration camps and other Nazi prisons as they swept across Europe at the end of World War II.

The move to open the archive came after the last of the 11 countries that sit on the body managing the archive ratified a 2006 agreement to allow public access.

"I would like to invite all researchers to make use of this, and work through this dark chapter of German history," said Guenter Gloser, Germany's deputy foreign minister for Europe.

Germany signs Nazi files accord
26 Jul 06 |  Europe
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15 Feb 03 |  Europe


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