Interagency Working Group (IWG)

Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group: Summary Meeting Minutes

August 2, 2001 1pm - 4pm; 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC


Participants:

National Archives and Records Administration
Steven Garfinkel (Chair)

Public Members
Thomas Baer
Elizabeth Holtzman
Richard Ben-Veniste

Office of the Secretary of Defense
Chris Bromwell

Federal Bureau of Investigation
John Collingwood

Central Intelligence Agency
A CIA representative for David Holmes

National Security Council
William Leary

Department of Justice/Office of Special Investigations
Eli Rosenbaum

Department of State
David Patterson

Agency and IWG staff and Consultants also present.


IWG Chair Steve Garfinkel opened the August 2 monthly meeting by mentioning that IWG advisor Linda Holmes is scheduled to appear on Ted Koppel's Nightline August 4. The Chair then introduced Dr. Marlene Mayo, a member of the University of Maryland History Department, as the newest IWG historian. Mr. Garfinkel said that Dr. Mayo, with her extensive background in modern Japanese history, will provide important and valuable support as we search for and analyze records on the War in the Far East. He also introduced Larry Taylor, the new IWG Executive Director. The Chair said that members should have copies of the letters he has sent to the Russian ambassador and the Russian archivist requesting assistance in locating materials in Russian archives. There has been no response yet since the Embassy reports that the Ambassador is out of country until the end of August. Finally, Mr. Garfinkel reported that guidance on relevancy issues had been distributed to all agencies involved in the search for Nazi and Japanese documents. Any comments or reaction should be prepared in writing to allow the IWG experts to respond fully.

Professor Richard Breitman then outlined recent developments and plans by the historical staff. He is working on IRR Army records in various forms. He has completed work on the paper records. He is now engaged with the OSS Entry 190 concentration camp materials. He hopes to have a report or presentation ready in September and has discussed this with Peter Black from the Holocaust Museum. He mentioned that he would be scaling back his own IWG activities and that Dr. Norm Goda would be working full time on many of these issues.

Dr. Goda said he has been concentrating on FBI documents and has reviewed materials in three of the 11 transfers, much of which requires significant effort. One area of some importance is information on German personalities as well as information on Eastern Europe, immigration, and the early cold war. Some information on German scientists is mundane. Dr. Goda feels that FBI financial information concerning Chase and Chemical Banks is informative. Ms Holtzman called his report very important and said that this information needs to be broken down by sectors. Mr. Garfinkel agreed and said there should be structured, formal releases of this key information. He then asked Dr. Mayo to outline her initial efforts.

Dr. Mayo said that although she is only getting started, she is finding some information on looting and also on Jewish refugees in China. There were several comments from the group about IWG efforts on Japan. Mr. Ben-Veniste is concerned that time is passing without learning much. Others in the group raised the question of access to records that had been returned in the 1950s. Eli Rosenbaum noted that OSI has funding for some research in Japan if the Embassy can provide capable researchers. It was agreed that the State Department Historian would coordinate a meeting with its office of Japanese Affairs. Mr. Garfinkel urged State Department Historian Marc Susser to start work immediately on arranging this vital meeting and asked Paul Claussen to have the Japan Desk contact Mr. Rosenbaum on the availability of capable research assistance through the Embassy in Tokyo. Paul Shapiro noted that there are Japanese/Jewish displays at the Holocaust Museum and that his staff could be helpful on this issue.

The IWG Audit Team has continued its efforts. John Pereira said the team had successful meetings with the FBI and the State Department. When they re-reviewed questioned redactions on 19 FBI/British reports, the FBI agreed to release 18 immediately and would contact the British on the other issue. He said that the State Department had just transferred 2200 pages (largely from overseas posts) to College Park and only one redaction was still being reviewed.

Christina Bromwell, the new Department of Defense representative to the IWG, reviewed recent efforts. All DOD elements have been tasked to begin work on identifying possible Japanese records under the new Act. Turning to the question of Navy records pertaining to Nazi war crimes, Lt. Scaliatine reported that they have completed their search. They expanded their database effort and confirmed that most of their materials were transferred to College Park previously. She believes that NARA already has declassification authority from DOD to complete the release of Navy records. Mr. Pereira noted that the Audit Team has sampled Naval Records to ascertain if the Navy has searched completely through its holdings. It was suggested that DOD ask selected retirees if they can identify other areas to probe. An Air Force report would be welcome at the next IWG meeting.

The next monthly IWG meeting will be held Thursday, September 6 at 1 PM in Room 105 at the National Archives.

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