Archival Access

To a large extent and for decades the documentation of the Holocaust and its historical context has been scattered, endangered, and in many cases inaccessible. Overcoming existing and new impositions on researchers requires broad international cooperation and a reaffirmation of the commitments. 

In November 2017, the Plenary of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) reaffirmed their commitment to ensure full access to the material record of the Holocaust. The IHRA’s experts’ aim is to ensure full and open access to the historical record of the Holocaust in government-run and governmentally funded archives and libraries by 8 May 2020, in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the cessation of hostilities of the Second World War in Europe. 

In 2017, the IHRA concluded its five-year project on archival access with a final report and recommendations. Member countries undertook a review of still-classified or otherwise administratively restricted archival material pertaining to the Holocaust. 

Since 2012 the IHRA has been concerned with the potential impact of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on Holocaust research. On 14 April 2016, the European Parliament adopted the EU data protection legislation which includes a specific reference to the Holocaust. 

The IHRA supported the opening of the International Tracing Service (ITS) archive in Bad Arolsen in Germany  in 2007, an internationally governed center which contains about 30 million documents related to concentration camps, forced labor and displaced persons. 

The IHRA Steering Committee on Archival Access continues its work with IHRA member countries and partner organizations to build the structure and regulations necessary to live up to the tenets of the Stockholm Declaration and to ensure the permanence of open access to Holocaust sources. 

The Chair of IHRA’s group on Archival Access is Robert Williams (United States).

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