The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum says it is ready to begin using an international archive to help families find relatives who went missing in Europe during World War II.
The museum recently acquired digital copies of records linked to more than 17 million people who were arrested, deported, forced into slave labor, killed, or otherwise fell victim to the Nazi regime.
The original records are housed with the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany - the internationally administered clearinghouse for Nazi records confiscated after the war.
In post-war years, the archive's backlog of requests for information on missing family members grew at one point to some 425,000 requests. The 11-nation commission managing the records agreed last year to open the records to the public and digitize the collection to make the collection more accessible.
The 11-national commission, consisting of Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United States, decided that each of the members of the commission could receive a copy of the records.
The United States designated the Holocaust Museum to house its copy of the records. The U.S. collection is not expected to be complete until 2010.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.