UNITED NATIONS (Jul. 23)
Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel appealed to United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar Thursday to open to the public the files on Nazi war criminals at the UN war crimes archives in Manhattan.
“For the sake of memory and humanity, I appeal to the Secretary General, whom I respect very much, to open these files to the public,” Wiesel, an author and Holocaust survivor, said at a press conference called by the Israel Mission to the UN.
The Israel Mission obtained 1,600 files on Nazi war criminals Thursday. It had been reported earlier that it would receive 1,500 files. Wiesel said he came to the UN to support Israel’s longstanding request that the files be opened to scholars, educators, students and journalists.
“To keep them closed would mean to silence the voice of history,” he said, noting that was what Hitler and other Nazi leaders wanted–to deprive the human race of any knowledge of the atrocities and crimes they committed.
The 1,600 files were delivered to Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Yohanan Bein, who is Acting Ambassador in the absence of Binyamin Netanyahu, who is in Israel. Bein said the files would be sent to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Research Institute in Jerusalem for study. He said the Secretary General is scheduled to meet on September 22 with representatives of the 17 former member states of the now defunct UN War Crimes Commission to discuss opening the files to the public.
Bein said he believed all the countries now recognize “the necessity to grant broader access to the UN archives.” So far, 14 of the 17 former War Crimes Commission members have announced they support broader access. The three countries still opposed are France, India and Czechoslovakia. Bein noted that final authority to open the files rests with the Secretary General, who will make his decision after the September meeting.