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
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)

(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."

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Showing 3 of 49 comments
Lou Bernardo
Jul 17, 2014 7:27 PM CDT
We can't do much about today's insane groups committing "war crimes" and we're going to go back 60-70 years and investigate crimes by people probably long dead or nearly so? What sense does that make considering no one apparently learns anything from past history?
Art Salmons
Jul 17, 2014 2:51 PM CDT
As Hillary Clinton always says about things in the past: "What difference does it make!?"
fred lapides
Jul 17, 2014 1:58 PM CDT
for those who are snarky-p-[and there are such comments here--please grow up! the release of this material is NOT about war crimes done by all nations but rather evidence used at the Nurenburg trials, a very specific use for a specific reason. If you have other--and yes there4 are--war crimes, then post them but at least let the viewer know what they are for and about.