Sixty three years after the Holocaust, my mother, who is an eighty-year-old survivor does not know under what circumstances her parents, 2 brothers, and sister died. For my father, any information now comes too late. For my brothers and I and thousands of children of Holocaust survivors, whose family histories were locked behind the walls of Arolsen archives, we hoped to finally have a key when the U.S. Congress pressured the 11 nations who are responsible for the International Tracing Service to open its files two years ago.
The vast storehouse of log books, transport lists and death registers are massive, containing files on more 17 million people who passed through the concentration camps, forced labor camps, and displaced persons camps. Late last year, the U.S. Holocaust Museum received the first electronic version of the Red Cross-administered archives, but the process of retrieving the information is slow and remote.
With so few survivors remaining and time running out, Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla,) issued a non-binding resolution which "encourages the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the International Committee of the Red Cross to act with all possible urgency to create appropriate conditions to ensure survivors, their families, and researchers have direct access to the archives, and are offered effective assistance in navigating and interpreting these archives."
After waiting sixty three years, my mother, other Holocaust survivors and their families deserve to get the keys to their own stories now.