Germany agrees to open vast Nazi archive

The agreement was reached last month by the 11-nation governing body of the International Tracing Service, the arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross that oversees the archive in the German town of Bad Arolsen.

The protocol will probably be signed July 26 in Berlin, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said.

The move to unlock the archive, controlled by 1955 agreements, has come amid pressure from the dying generation of Holocaust survivors and victims' families who feared the histories of their loved ones would be lost forever unless the rules were changed.

The breakthrough came earlier this year when Germany, which had said that access to the files by Holocaust researchers would violate the country's privacy laws, agreed to soften its secrecy rules.

Under current rules, information is only given out to former victims. A third party can only access the archives with the express, written consent of a former victim, the AP reports.

Once the agreement is signed, all 11 signatory states have to ratify it.

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