Article on BDC thefts of the 1980's

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Michael Miller
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Article on BDC thefts of the 1980's

Post by Michael Miller » 19 May 2008 18:14

Found this article and thought it might be of interest.
Reprehensible and stupid. Can't say I wouldn't have been tempted myself, at least in my younger and stupider years,
but actually doing it is another story.


Best,
~ Mike


From http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.h ... A96E948260
Germans Open Trial on Thefts From Nazi Archive
SERGE SCHMEMANN, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES
Published: December 6, 1988
LEAD: The first trial to come out of investigations into the theft of thousands of Nazi-era documents from an American-controlled archive opened in West Berlin today, and officials said more charges could be made soon.

The first trial to come out of investigations into the theft of thousands of Nazi-era documents from an American-controlled archive opened in West Berlin today, and officials said more charges could be made soon.

On trial at the Berlin State Court were a citizen of the Ivory Coast who formerly worked as a microfilmer at the archive, the Berlin Document Center, and three West German dealers in military memorabilia. The microfilmer, Alfred Darko, 48 years old, is charged with stealing the documents, and the three Germans are accused of receiving stolen goods.

The trial, which is expected to last several days, is the first to emerge from an intensive 16-month investigation into the disappearance over several years of 10,000 to 30,000 documents from the Document Center, a two-level bunker under a nondescript suburban Berlin house from which the Nazis once conducted telephone tapping.

Since World War II, the bunker has been used to store 30 million files and 150 million documents from the Nazi era, including file cards with the names of 10.7 million Nazi Party members.

The United States Government, which has administered the archive since the war, has tried for several years to hand it over to West Germany, but Bonn has repeatedly stalled taking possession, apparently for fear of domestic political repercussions.

Access to the archives has been restricted to prosecutors, scholars doing specific research and relatives of Nazi Party members who die.

According to officials at the United States Mission in West Berlin, there were indications as early as 1983 that documents were being pilfered, but investigations turned up nothing. A strong tip in 1987, however, led to a thorough investigation, which came to light in February through an article in a West Berlin daily.

Initial reports raised the possibility that the files had been used for blackmail, but officials said no evidence had been found of any use other than sale to collectors of war memorabilia.

Mr. Darko, who has lived in West Germany for 20 years and who has been in jail since March, acknowledged in an opening statement that he had pilfered documents, but insisted he had acted only as a go-between between the West Berlin dealers and superiors at the document center whom he refused to identify.

The others on trial today were Henri Berger, 58, and Herbert Borrmann, 52, both flea-market dealers in West Berlin, and Andre Husken [sic, Huesken], 32, of Hamburg, one of the best known of West Germany's war memorabilia dealers.

John P. Moore
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Re: Article on BDC thefts of the 1980's

Post by John P. Moore » 20 May 2008 20:40

Mike - Thanks for posting that interesting article. It is a good thing that most/all of the stolen documents had been microfilmed by the BDC in the mid-1960s. It often used to confound Mark Yeger that so many DKiG and Ritterkreuz Vorschlag documents were missing from the Personalakten of officer files of which he purchased paper copies from the BDC, yet I had copies of those documents of the microfilm that I purchased from NARA. At the time we believed that the BDC was being arbitrary with Mark, until we later figured out that the documents were no longer in the possession of the BDC. Still, one can't help but wonder how many documents were stolen prior to the 1960s as there are quite a few key documents missing from files where you would expect them to be present.

I visited the BDC around 1980 and it was quite an experience to be able to look through the original documents. It's a shame that the BDC did not microfilm the original documents in color.

John

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