Washington, DC. . .Today the Nazi War Criminal Interagency Working Group (IWG) issued its Interim Report to Congress on Implementation of the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act as required by PL 105-246. The report discusses implementation of the Act and details the status of the Government's progress in the lengthy and complex process of identifying, declassifying, and releasing records relating to Nazi war criminals, crimes, persecution, and looted assets.
President Clinton established the IWG in January through E. O. 13110 and directed it to locate, identify, inventory, recommend for declassification, and then make available at the National Archives and Records Administration, all classified Nazi war criminal records of the United States. He appointed three public members, former Representative Elizabeth Holtzman of the New York law firm of Herrick, Feinstein LLP, Richard Ben-Veniste, of the Washington law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, and Thomas Baer, of the Steinhardt Baer Picture Company as well as officials from key executive agencies including the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Dr. Michael Kurtz, NARA's Assistant Archivist for Records Services, Washington, DC, chairs the Working Group.
Since January the IWG has coordinated a government-wide effort to locate classified records that may contain information that (1) pertains to any individual who the U. S. Government has grounds to believe ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person because of race, religion, national origin, or political opinion, during the period of Nazi rule in Germany (1933-45); or (2) involves assets taken during that period from persons persecuted by the Nazi regime or governments associated with it.
Agencies have identified a universe of more than 600 million pages among bodies of records located in agency storage space, the Federal Record Centers, and the National Archives that might contain documents responsive to the Act. With this universe defined, the IWG and the agencies are now directing their efforts to identifying the specific files that must be reviewed for declassification, conducting the declassification review, and preparing these records for release to the fullest extent possible before the statutory deadline of October 2001.
In submitting its report, the IWG noted declassification actions to date under the Act of more than 126,000 pages that include records of the State Department, the Secretary of Defense, and the Department of the Army pertaining to the Tripartite Gold Commission, Project PAPERCLIP, and foreign scientists, engineers, and technicians.
The IWG report will be available on the Working Group's website: http://www.archives.gov/iwg/ on November 3, 1999.
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