Prepared remarks of Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California, for the transfer of original copies of the Nuremberg Laws to the National Archives.
August 25, 2010
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The Archivist was introduced by Steve Koblik, President of the Huntington Library.
Thank you, Steve.
I am pleased and honored to be here today to accept these originals of the Nuremberg Laws on behalf of the National Archives and Records Administration and the Government of the United States.
September 15, just a few weeks away, will mark the 75th anniversary of the enactment of these laws, which Adolf Hitler used as the legal underpinning for Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews, culminating in the Holocaust.
We are very grateful that the Huntington Library is now providing these historically important documents to the National Archives, where they will join other original documents relating to horrors of the Third Reich.
Already, the Archives’ holdings of records relating to the Third Reich and the Holocaust are formidable. And we have been involved in securing, declassifying, and making accessible to the public these records for some time.
In the mid-1990s, renewed public interest in the records of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust sparked congressional and executive branch interest. As a result, the Archives took the lead in interagency efforts to increase the resources available to researchers who were interested in this period in history.
Federal agencies and departments were directed to search for relevant records and to declassify as many of them as possible in an effort to shed more light on one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century.
When we completed the job in 2007, the agencies had opened more than 8.5 million pages of previously sealed documents relating to Nazi war crimes.
The Nuremberg Laws are an invaluable addition to our sizeable holdings that relate to the Third Reich, the Holocaust, and the trials at Nuremberg.
They include transcripts of proceedings, prosecution and defense exhibits, interrogation records, document books and court papers. They also include such other items as the war diaries of Joseph Goebbels and General Alfred Jodl, as well as registers from the Dachau and Mauthausen concentration camps.
And our holdings of records from World War II are vast. They include millions of documents, photographs, and video and audio recordings that provide a record of the actions of American forces in all theaters of the war—as well as U.S. intelligence operations during and after the war.
But the Nuremberg Laws are in a unique and special category.
They facilitated and legalized the Third Reich’s discrimination against Jewish people in Germany—which led to the persecution of Jews and the systematic, state-sponsored murder of six million of them in the Holocaust.
General George S. Patton Jr.—possibly motivated by his own sense of history—made certain that the original laws would end up in American hands when the war was over.
Had General Patton not brought the copies of the Nuremberg Laws back to California, undoubtedly they would have been used as evidence at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and accessioned by the National Archives with the other records of the tribunal.
Again, I want to thank the Huntington Library for its decision to transfer these very historic documents to the National Archives. I also want to thank the Skirball Cultural Center for the care they took in displaying the documents over a 10-year period.
These documents now complete the Archives’ historical record of the Nuremberg war crimes trials and will be of great interest to scholars and researchers as well as the public for many years to come.
After the Archivist’s remarks, he and Mr. Koblik signed a document officially transferring the Nuremberg Laws to the Archives.