The documents will give historians an intimate inside view of the Nazi machinery of oppression and death, and will let survivors and victims' families search for their own histories, as recorded by their tormentors.
The 11-nation governing body of the International Tracing Service, which runs the archive in Bad Arolsen, Germany, voted to sidestep legalities and begin distributing electronic copies to the member states as soon as they are ready.
The decision circumvents the requirement to withhold the documents until all 11 countries ratify the 2006 treaty amendments that enabled the unsealing of the archive, and was likely to shave several months from the distribution timetable.
Institutions that receive the copies can use the time to organize the electronic files and integrate them into their own archival systems, but they are prohibited from allowing access to researchers until the ratification process is complete, archive director Reto Meister said.
Italy, Greece, Luxembourg and France have all pledged to endorse the agreement by the autumn, Meister said. The United States, Israel, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Greece have finished the legal process.
Meister said the first 10 million pages - about one-fifth of the documents - will be ready for transfer by early September, and another huge batch in November.
The archive contains Nazi records on the arrest, transportation, incarceration, forced labor and deaths of millions of people from the year the Nazis built their first concentration camp in 1933 to the end of the war in May 1945. It also has a vast collection of postwar records from displaced persons camps.