Thousands of WWII War Crimes Records Unveiled

Holocaust Museum makes digital archive available to public

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jul 17, 2014 11:11 AM CDT

(Newser) – 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."

FILE - This Feb. 23, 2012, file photo shows a section of the 184 reels of microfilm of transferred documents of World War II criminals, which are kept in a locked room in a building near the U.N. complex in New York. A largely unknown archive documenting thousands of...
FILE - This Feb. 23, 2012, file photo shows a section of the 184 reels of microfilm of transferred documents of World War II criminals, which are kept in a locked room in a building near the U.N. complex...   (Bebeto Matthews)
FILE - This, Feb. 23, 2012, file photo shows Bridget Sisk, chief of Archives and Records Management Section (ARMS) at the United Nations, as she views a 1947 negative file during a special tour of U.N. historical archives. A largely unknown archive documenting thousands of cases against World War...
FILE - This, Feb. 23, 2012, file photo shows Bridget Sisk, chief of Archives and Records Management Section (ARMS) at the United Nations, as she views a 1947 negative file during a special tour of U.N....   (Bebeto Matthews)
This photo provided by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shows Hungarian occupation troops in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, Nov 25, 1941, prepare the gallows for the public execution of members of the People's Liberation Resistance. A largely unknown archive documenting thousands of cases against World War II criminals, from Hitler to...
This photo provided by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shows Hungarian occupation troops in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, Nov 25, 1941, prepare the gallows for the public execution of members of the People's...   (Uncredited)
This photo provided by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shows Hungarian soldiers as they execute Serbians and Jews on Miletic Street in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, Jan. 23, 1942, during a series of raids.  A largely unknown archive documenting thousands of cases against World War II criminals, from Hitler to many...
This photo provided by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shows Hungarian soldiers as they execute Serbians and Jews on Miletic Street in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, Jan. 23, 1942, during a series of "raids."...   (Uncredited)
FILE - Feb. 23, 2012, file photo shows a researcher at the United Nations in New York, opening a drawer containing some of the 184 reels of microfilmed documents containing data on World War II criminals. A largely unknown archive documenting thousands of cases against World War II criminals, from...
FILE - Feb. 23, 2012, file photo shows a researcher at the United Nations in New York, opening a drawer containing some of the 184 reels of microfilmed documents containing data on World War II criminals....   (Bebeto Matthews)
This handout photo provided by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shows Aleksander Belev, center, facing camera, the Bulgarian Commissioner for Jewish Questions, overseeing the deportation of Macedonian Jews from Bulgarian occupied Skopje, Yugoslavia, in March 1943. German soldiers can be seen at left. A largely unknown archive documenting thousands of...
This handout photo provided by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shows Aleksander Belev, center, facing camera, the Bulgarian Commissioner for Jewish Questions, overseeing the deportation of Macedonian...   (Uncredited)
This photo, date unknown, provided by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, shows Jews assembled in the desecrated synagogue in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, before being transported to a concentration camp. A largely unknown archive documenting thousands of cases against World War II criminals, from Hitler to many average participants in the...
This photo, date unknown, provided by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, shows Jews assembled in the desecrated synagogue in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, before being transported to a concentration camp....   (Uncredited)
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