Press/Journalists
Press Release
May 23, 2000
Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group
Thomas H. Baer, Los Angeles

Richard Ben-Veniste, Washington DC

John E. Collingwood, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Elizabeth Holtzman, New York

Michael J. Kurtz (Chair), National Archives and Records Administration

Harold J. Kwalwasser, Office of the Secretary of Defense

William H. Leary, National Security Council

Kenneth J. Levit, Central Intelligence Agency

David Marwell, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Eli M. Rosenbaum, Department of Justice

William Z. Slany, Department of State


Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group Plans Steps toward Declassification of Japanese War Crimes Records

College Park, MD. . . Dr. Michael Kurtz, Assistant Archivist at the National Archives and Chair of the Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group (IWG), announced today that the IWG will take steps toward the declassification of records related to Japanese war crimes. With this move, the IWG begins the second phase of implementation of the Nazi War Crime Disclosure Act of 1998, which requires that records related to war crimes committed by "any government which was an ally of the Nazi government of Germany," be identified, declassified, and made available to the public.

For the past year, the IWG focused attention on classified Federal records relating to Nazi war criminals, war crimes, persecution, and looting. Its efforts to date have resulted in the declassification of some 1.5 million pages, mostly related to Europe. Early on in its deliberations and in consultation with Congress, the IWG established that its mandate would require an examination of records related to Japanese war crimes, Japanese war criminals, persecution, and looting.

Former Member of Congress Elizabeth Holtzman, one of the three public members appointed to the group by the President, said: "The disclosure of records related to Japanese war crimes was included as part of our original mandate. The IWG voted early on that it should be included and it will be included. I hope that Congress gives us the resources to do that job."

This broadening of the IWG's scope is a major initiative requiring the coordination of a massive screening of records held by Federal agencies. Dr. Kurtz said, "This move toward the identification and declassification of records related to Japanese war crimes is the next logical step for the IWG under the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act. It is an important undertaking that builds upon the group's previous work and helps to address the growing public concern for a more complete account of the crimes committed in the Pacific theater of World War II."

To assist in providing guidance to agencies on how to approach the effort, the IWG has appointed historian Linda Goetz Holmes, an expert on Japanese crimes of World War II, to its Historical Advisory Panel. The panel recommends measures to improve the effectiveness of the Act by aiding understanding of the historical circumstances and context in which the records were created.

President Clinton established the Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group (IWG) in January 1999, through Executive Order 13110. The group has been charged with locating, identifying, inventorying, recommending for declassification and making available all classified criminal records of the Nazi government and its allies, subject to specified restrictions. Additional information about the IWG and the Historical Advisory Panel is available at the IWG website at www.archives.gov/iwg/.

For press information, contact Giuliana Bullard, 703-532-1477, or Susan Cooper at the National Archives and Records Administration at 301-837-1700.

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