The vault, which holds crucial records that could be used to prosecute those responsible for the Holocaust and other World War II atrocities, is only partially available to select researchers and historians on a confidential basis and at governments’ request. The vault was the property of the 17-nation United Nations War Crimes Commission from 1943 until it was shut down in 1948. It then became available only to governments, and later to select researchers and historians.
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, B’nai B’rith International called on the United States to “employ the wherewithal of the United States to secure the vital and long-overdue opening of archives at the United Nations documenting many thousands of cases against individuals believed to have committed atrocities during the Second World War and the Holocaust.”
The letter concluded: “We urge the U.S. to ask the Secretary-General and fellow member states to swiftly do away with any and all barriers to public access to the U.N.’s war-era files.”
B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said, “These records should finally be open and available to anyone. Had these vaults been opened earlier they could have made much more of an impact on successful prosecution of war crimes.”
Not only could the vault help the United Nations provide more detailed information for Holocaust scholars, governments and others concerned with international criminal law, but they can help prosecute modern-day criminals.
“Where has the United Nations been for the last six decades? Hopefully U.N. officials will finally take these requests to heart and make these crucial historical records open to the public,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
This topic was discussed at a recent B’nai B’rith Global Round Table event in New York City.