Nazi Archives and the Americans: From Legal Evidence to NARA Record Group
presentationposted on 2017-06-22, 00:00 authored by Katelyn Myers
Archives, as institutions, hold the documents that are the basis for every country's history. The documents held within are the framework and foundation of governments and organizations and when thought of as spoils of war, can help the invading country better run their new territories. In the case of Nazi Germany, thousands of documents recording everything from the inner workings of the Reich Security Main Office to the laws governing Jews and the subsequent concentration camps fell into the hands of the Allies as Germany surrendered. These documents helped build the framework of the Nuremburg War Trials and gave tremendous information and aid to everyone from the U.S. military, to intelligence organizations, to historians writing accounts of World War II. The documents that were in American control ended up in Washington D.C., at the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) where their return back to Germany in the 1990s would become a controversial issue in archival history. The goal of this project is to follow the provenance and uses of the Nazi archives from their capture during World War II through their subsequent uses and their establishment as a NARA Record Group. While following the history, certain case studies are used to demonstrate the significant uses of German material as well as examining American conceptions of their archival structure, such as the creation of the Berlin Document Center, to assist in their use in the Nuremburg Trials and other postwar policies.