Sensitive archive made public with AIBack
The advantage of Google is that it makes information findable and easily accessible; the disadvantage of Google is that it makes information findable and easily accessible.
Nowhere is this clear because this week, a start has been made with digitising and making searchable one of the most consulted but also the most sensitive archives: the Central Archives of the Special Administration of Justice. This archive contains the files of 300,000 persons suspected of collaborating with the German occupiers during the Second World War. Twenty per cent of the suspects were convicted, 1,900 of whom received prison terms of ten years or more.
Rapid digitisation with artificial intelligence
Access to the archive is currently limited due to the privacy of persons who may still be alive. But in 2025, this archive will be digitally accessible and consultable for everyone with the help of AI, assuming that most people will be dead by then.
Until then, manuscripts and documents will be digitised at lightning speed using artificial intelligence: about 152,000 pages per week will soon be scanned. And by linking files, you can search in many more ways. For example, AI can be used to search for every word that is mentioned in the documents, including the names of the victims.
Significant consequences for surviving relatives
This has significant consequences for the relatives of collaborators. The perpetrators have been silent for a long time, and many children know little or nothing about their parents' past. As a child of a collaborator says: "I only found out from a newspaper article when I was eighteen that my father was in league with the Germans. He had never told me anything. It was not until three years ago that I was ready to look at his file." The files provide an accurate insight into the facts someone was suspected of, sometimes with all the gruesome details.
The fact that all this information will soon be accessible to everyone also has disadvantages. If you see that a friend's father or your neighbour's mother was suspected of collaborating, you will look at such a person differently. Many children of collaborators are afraid of being bullied (again) or excluded. There are also relatives who, to this day, do not want to know what their relatives have done. That information will soon be out on the street and accessible to everyone.
Undoubtedly, a lot of this will be on social media as well-known names pop up. But beware of judging too quickly. Some of the suspects have been acquitted due to lack of evidence, people have been made suspicious out of jealousy, and there is a big difference in the degree of collaboration: someone who only collected for the Winterhulp is also registered as a collaborator in the archive, just like as the person who actively participated in the hunt for people in hiding. But this nuance will probably be spent on only a few keyboard knights. We wait. From 2025, the first files will be available online at www.oorlogvoorderechter.nl.