The Central Committee of the Liberated Jews

(1945-1950)


The Central Committee of the Liberated Jews in the U.S. Zone of Germany was the official representative body of displaced Jews in the American zone of Germany from 1945 to 1950. The Central Committee was founded on July 1, 1945, at the first meeting of representatives of Jewish DP camps held in Feldafing. It came into being through the joint effort of Dr. Zalman Grinberg, the head of the St. Ottilien hospital DP camp and former director of the Kovno ghetto hospital, and Rabbi Abraham Klausner, an American reform rabbi serving as a chaplain in the U.S. Army.

The newly created body established its headquarters in Munich (located first at the Deutsches Museum and later at 3 Sieberstrasse) and set up seven sub-committees to formulate policy and coordinate activity in the areas of education, culture, religious affairs, clothing, nutrition, emigration and information. The Feldafing meeting was quickly followed by a conference in St. Ottilien on July 24. Its purpose was to expand the representative base of the Central Committee and to draw public attention to the plight of Jewish survivors in DP camps, so as to put pressure on Britain to open Palestine to DP immigration.

The 94 delegates from German and Austrian camps issued a resolution demanding the abrogation of the British White Paper, which prevented them from leaving the camps and starting their lives afresh in their own homeland. In addition, they called for the recognition of the Jewish DPs as a distinct group meriting their own camps, in which they would govern themselves.

The Central Committee failed in its bid to incorporate the Jewish DPs of Austria and the British zone of Germany into their organizational structure. However, it continued to represent the largest group of Jewish DPs and eventually won recognition by the American Army of Occupation (September 7, 1946) as "the legal and democratic representation of the liberated Jews in the American zone."

In the five years of its existence, the Central Committee convened three formal congresses: Munich, January 27-29, 1946; Bad Reichenhall, February 25-28, 1947; and Bad Reichenhall, March 30-April 2, 1948. Dr. Zalman Grinberg served as the Chairman of the Central Committee from its inception until his immigration to Palestine in 1946. He was succeeded by his deputy, David Treger (another Kovno ghetto survivor), who was elected Chairman at both the second and third congresses.

The Central Committee was involved in every aspect of Jewish DP life, either independently or in conjunction with one or more of the Jewish welfare agencies operating in the area. Through its constituent departments the Central Committee played a central role in education, culture, religious affairs, historical documentation, employment and training, supply and distribution, politics and public relations, family tracing and immigration, legal affairs and restitution.

[Sources: Bauer, Yehuda. "The Organization of Holocaust Survivors," Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 8 (1970); Hyman, Abraham S. The Undefeated, Jerusalem, 1993; Mankowitz, Zev. "The Formation of She'erit Hapleita," Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 20 (1990); Schwarz, Leo.The Redeemers, New York, 1953]


Source: USHMM