In the age of state sponsored Holocaust denial, I think it’s worthwhile to watch a 60 Minutes program about the recently opened Nazi archives with records about 17.5 million of their victims.
Seized when Germany fell to the Allies in 1945, the documents were deposited in an archive in the German city of Bad Arolsen and have been tightly controlled for privacy reasons ever since. Sitting on 16 miles of shelving, they number 50 million pages covering 17.5 million victims, not only Jews but also millions of slave laborers, political prisoners, homosexuals and Roma. They reveal the horrible: For 90 minutes on Hitler’s birthday, a prisoner was shot every two minutes as a gift to the FÃ¼hrer. They tell the mundane: Lice on prisoners were counted and classified as small, medium and large.
They contain a few familiar names, Anne Frank, for one, and a famous list, the one belonging to factory owner Oskar Schindler, who put prisoners’ names on his list to save them from death. Both stories were immortalized in literature and film. But the records mainly hold the names of millions of unknown victims, some of whom survived to tell their stories, like Miki Schwartz, Walter Feiden and Jack Rosenthal. 60 Minutes was able to secure a private viewing of the records for these three men before they are made more accessible within a year.
Sunday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. ET/PT on 60 Minutes on CBS.