The pages are yellowing but clearly legible.  The writing is in German.  The documents, setting out in detail the art, archives, books and other cultural valuables stolen in Nazi-occupied countries during the Second World War, are in Kyiv.  Now, under an initiative supported by the State Committee on Archives of Ukraine, they're being made available on-line.

On the first day after my return to Kyiv from leave I attend a ceremony to mark the fact that the Central State Archive of Supreme Bodies of Power and Government of Ukraine (TsDAVO) is joining the Joint International Project to Extend Access to Records Relating to Holocaust-Era Looted Cultural Property (this site is also where a link to the Ukrainian archives will be placed shortly).  Representatives of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany and the national archives in Germany, the USA, the UK and France, which have supported the project, attend and describe the importance of the material being made available.  These are records of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), one of the main agencies responsible for looting cultural valuables in Nazi-occupied countries during the Second World War.  The records of the ERR were scattered after the war and are now to be found in 29 repositories in nine countries.  The collection of ERR records held by Ukraine, seized by Soviet forces at the end of the war, is the largest in the world. 

The researchers and experts at the ceremony are excited that this important collection of documents, which was classified as secret in the Soviet Union, is now being made available for researchers worldwide.  It certainly feels like an important step; and a symbol of how Ukraine is making concrete progress on overcoming the Soviet legacy and moving closer to Europe.  To see the original documents on display at the ceremony is fascinating.  The glimpse they provide of Europe's tragic past is also a reminder of the success of the European Union, which has at its core the prevention of conflict between the countries of Europe - and its continued role, alongside the Council of Europe and the OSCE, in promoting political and economic stability throughout the region.   

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

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