On January 11, 1999, in accordance with the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act (PL 105-246), President Clinton established the Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group (IWG). The group is made up of public members and federal agency representatives who are directed to
- locate, inventory, recommend for declassification, and make available all classified Nazi war criminal records, subject to certain specified exceptions;
- coordinate with federal agencies and expedite the release of such classified records to the public; and
- complete its work to the greatest extent possible and report to Congress within one year.
On May 23, 2000 Dr. Michael Kurtz, Chair of the Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group (IWG), announced that the IWG would also begin declassifying records related to Japanese war crimes in the second phase of implementation of the Nazi War Crime Disclosure Act of 1998, which requires that records related to war crimes committed by “any government which was an ally of the Nazi government of Germany,” be identified, declassified, and made available to the public.
The first year, IWG focused attention on classified Federal records relating to Nazi war criminals, war crimes, persecution, and looting. This led to the declassification of some 1.5 million pages, mostly related to Europe.
Dr. Kurtz said, “This move toward the identification and declassification of records related to Japanese war crimes is the next logical step for the IWG under the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act. It is an important undertaking that builds upon the group’s previous work and helps to address the growing public concern for a more complete account of the crimes committed in the Pacific theater of World War II.”
To assist in providing guidance to agencies on how to approach the effort, the IWG has appointed historian Linda Goetz Holmes, an expert on Japanese crimes of World War II, to its Historical Advisory Panel. The panel recommends measures to improve the effectiveness of the Act by aiding understanding of the historical circumstances and context in which the records were created.
Source: National Archives.