Report On Joint Distribution Committee Activity In Europe
In the camps of Germany and Austria, although medical
aid was the responsibility of the Army and UNRRA, the JDC [Joint] sent
a number of physicians, nurses, therapists, and public health specialists
to work with refugee doctors and the Central Committees of Liberated
Jews to improve health conditions among the Jewish displaced persons.
JDC shipments of medicines and hospital equipment supplemented free
care and systematic health checks by members of the JDC medical staff.
During the summer, when large numbers of Polish refugees were coming
through Lubeck, a flying squad of JDC doctors and nurses worked with
OSE, the European health agency, to give medical aid to the sick and
Jewish civilian hospitals were established in Munich and in Berlin.
A survey of the physical needs of Vienna's Jews resulted in the establishment
of a convalescent home at Semriach and a rest home for 400 children
at St. Gilgen. In addition, the JDC participated prominently in planning
a Jewish hospital in Vienna.
In Poland, the JDC through TOZ, the Polish health and welfare agency,
supported some 85 medical institutions. A dramatic event in the JDC
medical programme for Poland was the shipment of a complete 500-bed
hospital into that country. A portion of the equipment was subsequently
set up in Petersvalde, Lower Silesia, as a complete medical centre in
memory of David Guzik.
In Rumania the JDC-aided 16 medical institutions includes eight hospitals
with a total capacity of 900 beds, maternity homes accommodating 3,840
patients, first aid stations and clinics which treated more than 10,000
patients each month. Seven hospitals with 1,000 beds were supported
by the JDC in Hungary. In Czechoslovakia the JDC helped to maintain
a childrens' convalescent home and a Jewish hospital, equipped to serve
105 patients. In Greece, during each month of 1946, JDC medical care
was made available to 1,000 Jews, while a dispensary in Athens treated
an additional 700 children. In France the JDC supported some 17 dispensaries.
During the year the JDC helped nearly 60,000 Jewish
children and young people to continue their education. Since many of
these boys and girls had been deprived of all opportunities to attend
school during the Hitler years, this programme is especially significant.
In Germany and Austria the JDC furnished textbooks,
supplies and supplementary aid to thousands of displaced children who
attended schools which had been established in the camps chiefly by
the Central Committees of Liberated Jews. In Italy it supported community
schools for 1,000 pupils and provided hot luncheons and educational
materials for an additional 1,000 displaced Jewish pupils in UNRRA camps.
In addition, in 1946 some 3,300 students were given
scholarships or supplementary help to attend European universities.
In the American zone of Germany the JDC arranged for 529 displaced Jews
to attend German universities and supplemented the living expenses of
Cultural and religious activities
In close co-operation with local Jewish communities,
the JDC in 1946 undertook important steps to reconstruct communal, cultural
and religious institutions overseas. In France special appropriations
were made for rebuilding religious life. Allocations were made in Belgium
for the repair and maintenance of eleven synagogues. In the Netherlands
nearly 25 per cent of the total budget was used to further cultural
and religious activities.
In the displaced persons camps of Germany and Austria, the JDC in 1946
developed an extensive programme of religious activities in co-operation
with the United States Army, UNRRA and the Central Committees of Liberated
Jews. Provision was made for the observance of all holy days. Ritual
slaughter was begun in several cities of Germany and synagogues were
reopened. In Italy the JDC allocated funds to enable the Union of Jewish
Communities to establish a rabbinical seminary and other religious institutions.
Kosher canteens were supported and special grants were made for the
During 1946 it became increasingly evident that Jews
who had been deprived of all opportunities to acquire new skills or
to use the abilities they once possessed were urgently in need of vocational
training, not only for the economic advantage resulting from this type
of instruction, but also for the recognized therapeutic value inherent
in this training. In 1946 nearly 42,000 men and women were enrolled
in JDC projects, where their instruction ranged from short-term experience
on a farm or in a machine shop to more intensive courses in preparation
for a life of economic independence.
Training activities supported or aided by the JDC
included hachsharot [training programs] where Jews live and work together
as a community in preparation for emigration to Palestine and training
centres which provide more formal instruction, particularly in industrial
pursuits, for young men and women.
A considerable effort was made to provide special skills for the displaced
Jews in Germany and Austria, either through classes set up within the
camps in co-operation with the Central Committees of Liberated Jews
or through 35 hachsharot supported by the JDC. In Italy 7,000 young
persons in 60 hachsharot were given varying amounts of training while
they waited for opportunities to emigrate to Palestine.
The training programmes in areas with more stable Jewish populations
were in marked contrast to vocational projects in Germany, Austria and
Italy, where the transient status of the Jews presented a serious obstacle
to a formal curriculum. The JDC supported 152 workshops in Hungary,
where 1,700 young men and women were provided with on-the-job training
for industrial occupations. In addition, in that country the JDC supported
64 hachsharot which gave instruction in agriculture to some 4,500 individuals.
In Rumania 75 JDC-supported projects provided training for 4,700 young
men and women. Similarly in France, Czechoslovakia, Belgium and the
Netherlands JDC training centres provided opportunities to gain rudimentary
Early in 1946 the JDC enlarged and strengthened its
emigration department to provide systematic assistance to help Jews
reach new homes. Staffed with a corps of experts, this emigration service
provided a wide range of aid: it made representations before consulates,
filled out necessary forms, arranged passage, chartered ships and advanced
transportation costs. In addition, it furnished clothing, luggage and
With JDC aid about 27,000 Jews left Europe, Shanghai
and other countries in 1946 to find haven in Palestine, the United States
and other areas. To America 9,000 Jewish men, women and children came
with JDC assistance. An additional 14,000 displaced Jews in the American
zones of Germany and Austria were processed for immigration but had
not sailed by the close of the year. Technical obstacles such as lack
of transportation facilities, consular delays and the small quotas available
prevented their emigration.
In co-operation with the Jewish Agency for Palestine,
the JDC financed emigration to Palestine for 15,000 Jews under the regular
quota. In addition a total of 3,500 were helped to reach Canada, Australia
and Latin America.