“We share a commitment to throw light on the still obscured shadows of the Holocaust. We will take all necessary steps to facilitate the opening of archives in order to ensure that all documents bearing on the Holocaust are available to researchers.”
– Article 7 of the Stockholm Declaration

IHRA member countries have each pledged to take all necessary steps to facilitate the opening of archives in order to ensure that all documents bearing on the Holocaust are available to researchers. These researchers are not just scholars and students, but include the broad range of educators, journalists, genealogists, jurists, and members of the public who use and access the material record of the Holocaust to understand the past and the present.

Until recently, the scale of the challenges encountered by researchers were not fully known. To amend this, the IHRA convened a multinational team of experts to surveyed researchers and consulted with external institutions about their experiences. Their findings revealed common challenges such as legal obstacles, the closure of archives, prohibitive costs, inadequate research facilities, and the poor physical condition of some materials.  Read more about IHRA's work on archival access.

Bolstered by these findings, the IHRA’s experts on archival access encouraged member countries to undertake a review of still-classified or otherwise restricted archival material pertaining to the Holocaust, and they continue to engage with governmental authorities to ensure full access to the material record of the Holocaust.

Owing to IHRA’s intervention, the European Union’ General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679, 27 April 2016) now reads: “Member States should also be authorised to provide that personal data may be further processed for archiving purposes, for example with a view to providing specific information related to the political behavior under former totalitarian state regimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, in particular the Holocaust, or war crimes”.

With a view to safeguarding the record of the Holocaust, the meetings, conferences, publications and reports by the IHRA serve as a platform for member countries to stay up-to-date with the current state of Holocaust research and to share and integrate good practices.

IHRA's Academic Working Group is chaired by Karel Berkhoff (Netherlands) and IHRA's Committee on Archival Access is chaired by Robert Williams (United States).

 

 

Holocaust-era documentation, Yad Vashem Archives. Courtesy of Yad Vashem.