Survivors voice outrage
at museum over archive
Courtesy Edwin Black
The International Tracing Service’s Bad Arolsen archive.
By Edwin Black Published: 05/11/2007

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Holocaust survivors are venting their anger at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum over its decision not to allow immediate electronic access to the long-secret records of the International Tracing Service at Bad Arolsen, Germany.

Second generation have complained in the past about the museum’s fundraising and other issues, but a dispute over prohibiting immediate remote access to the Bad Arolsen documentation — the way other government documents are accessed — brought many in the Holocaust community to express their anger publicly as never before.

The documents are expected to be transferred to the Holocaust museum here under an international treaty. The archives include millions of images relating to concentration-camp prisoner documents.

“Where does the museum get the chutzpah?” asked David Schaecter, president of the Miami-based Holocaust Survivors Foundation. He singled out Paul Shapiro, director of the museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies and the point man for the Bad Arolsen transfer.

“I don’t know how in the name of God Shapiro can look at himself in the mirror,” especially after his March 28 testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee, Schaecter said. Schaecter sat next to Shapiro as they testified to the House about the need to bring the Bad Arolsen documents to America.

Shapiro did not respond to calls seeking comment. Arthur Berger, a senior adviser to the museum on external affairs, defended him.

“Paul Shapiro has probably done more than any individual in the world to get this archive opened,” Berger said. “He has literally worked day and night to fulfill our moral responsibility to help survivors get information and not allow them to pass away without finding out more information about themselves and their families.”

Berger said the museum was waiting for the material to be released before it could provide specifics of how it would make the material available. But he said the museum was committed to making the archive widely accessible.