On May 5, the National Archives and a consortium of international partners launched a Nazi-era assets-related records database – making millions of records related to Nazi-era cultural property available online for the first time at www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/international-resources.
A National Archives signing ceremony marked the opening of the International Research Portal for Records Related to Nazi-Era Cultural Property. The portal extends public access to the widely dispersed records that will enable families and institutions to research their losses, provenance researchers to locate important documentation, and historians to study newly accessible materials on the history of this period.
The International Research Portal is a collaboration of national and other archival institutions with records that pertain to Nazi-Era cultural property (to see a list of the participating institutions, click here). These archival institutions, along with expert national and international organizations, are working together to extend public access to the widely-dispersed records through a single internet portal. This collaborative project was established to fulfill the 1998 Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, the 2000 Vilnius Forum Declaration and the 2009 Terezin Declaration, in particular on the importance of making all such records publicly accessible.
The portal links researchers to archival materials consisting of descriptions of records and, in many cases, digital images of the records that relate to cultural property that was stolen, looted, seized, forcibly sold, or otherwise lost during the Nazi-era. Cultural property documented in these records covers a broad range from artworks to books and libraries, religious objects, antiquities, archival documents, carvings, silver and more.
The records available through the Portal from the U.S. National Archives include over 2.3 million pages of documents created or received by the U.S. Government during and after World War II as part of its investigations into cultural assets that were looted or otherwise lost during the war. These records document the activities of several U.S. Government agencies involved in the identification and recovery of looted assets, including the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and U.S. occupation forces in Germany and Austria. The materials also contain captured German records regarding the seizure of cultural property, such as the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) card file and related photographs.
The records have been digitized and made available online by Footnote.com through a partnership agreement with the National Archives. The records are primarily in English, although some seized records are in German or other languages. There are no privacy or other access restrictions on the records.
For more information on Holocaust-era records at the U.S. National Archives, see http://www.archives.gov/research/holocaust. For an extensive finding aid to these materials, see http://www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/finding-aid. A guide available microfilm is at http://www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/microfilm-publications/index.html.
The National Archives online Archival Research Catalog (ARC) provides a description of many of these records. See www.archives.gov/research/arc/topics/holocaust/series.html. From the ARC description, click on the URL provided in the “online resource” section to be directed to the digitized records on Footnote.com. The digitized records on Footnote.com are available free in all National Archives research rooms and many large libraries, or for a fee by subscription. Footnote.com will make all of their Holocaust-era records freely accessible for the entire month of May.