Date          Wed, 4 May 1994 14 55 46 -0500                                    
Reply-To:     H-GERMAN MODERATOR Dan Rogers       
Sender:       German History list                        
From:         H-GERMAN MODERATOR Dan Rogers       
Subject:      Berlin Document Center                                            
Submitted by:   Charles E. McClelland                            
Dear Colleagues,                                                                
        There was a long and interesting article in a recent New Yorker         
(March 14) by Gerald Posner that, inter alia, included an interview with        
Marwell of the BDC.                                                             
        Posner raised (which the Reuters dispatch did not address much)         
the important issue of differing laws of privacy protection under German        
and American law/usage. The article is worth reading for examples of the        
kinds of documents that cannot or may not be accessed under the German          
Datenschutz law. It also points out some seemingly "arcane" differences         
between the original Berlin Document Center paper documents and the             
National Archives film version, which is in black-and-white: different          
colored notations and checkmarks (which have meaning) will not be               
reproduced in the B/W version. All librarians I have talked to are              
appalled by this reduction of textuality, which has been done presumably        
to save money.                                                                  
        It may be too late and even unnecessary to prevent the handover         
of the BDC to German archivists on July 1. It may not be too late to            
press for these documents to be considered as coming under an                   
as-yet-unwritten kind of international Datenschutz. They do not merely          
involve German history.                                                         
Charles McClelland                                                              
Submitted by:   John Heineman                        
If history is any guide (and of course we are all biased in favor of the        
assumption that it is), even iron-clad guarantees can be of little help in      
working with German archivists.  In researching my book on Constantin           
Freiherr von Neurath, I was completely unable to get access to his Foreign      
Office "personnel" file.  Despite the fact that I had permission from both      
Neurath's son and daughter, AND the support of the American Embassy in          
Bonn (who cited the agreement under which these non-microfilmed files were      
returned to the Federal Republic), access was simply denied.  I am very         
concerned lest similar actions occur in respect to the Berlin Document          
John L. Heineman                                                                
History Department                                                              
Boston College                                                                  
[moderator's note: I have the Gerald Posner article in front of me as I         
type.  It is in the New Yorker, 14 March 1994, pp. 39-47.  My                   
congressman's office is on the ball and has promised to Fedex the prepared      
testimony from last week's Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on the BDC      
by tomorrow.  Hope to have the first excerpts from it for you then.  D.R.]