From Adolf Hitler down to the petty bureaucrats who staffed the Nazi death camps, thousands of perpetrators of World War II war crimes were eventually written up in vast reams of investigative files—files that now, for the first time, can be viewed in their entirety by the public. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington has obtained a full copy of the UN War Crimes Commission archive that has largely been locked away for the past 70 years and has made the entire digital archive freely available to visitors in its research room. The vast collection includes about 500,000 digitized microfilm images with more than 10,000 case files.
Examples include that of Helmut Steinmetz, accused of murdering a crippled Jewish man he met on the street, and Elimar Luder Precht, chief dentist at several concentration camps, accused of selecting Auschwitz inmates for execution based on whether they had gold or platinum teeth that could be forcibly taken. The evidence was submitted by 17 member nations for evaluation to try to assure that war criminals would be arrested and tried, but the war crimes commission was shut down in 1948. The director of the museum's Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies said making the records public fosters a degree of belated accountability as "most Holocaust perpetrators were never held accountable before the law." (Read more Holocaust Museum stories.)