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Jewish Agricultural Settlement Corporation Collection

 Collection
Identifier: AR 25244

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the records of the Jewish Agricultural Settlement Corporation (JASC), the American branch of the settlement organization Juedische Landarbeit GmbH. The files mostly concern the legal and financial maintenance of the organization, but there are some documents about the settlements and the settlers, particularly in the correspondence from 1939 to 1941. These include memos about the financial and logistical arrangement of the settlements. The files after 1946 concern refunds and the legal administration of JASC. In addition, Fritz Schwarzschild's personal correspondence files, in his capacity as an officer of JASC, are also found in this collection. The JASC legal documents include incorporation documents, board meeting minutes, and papers relating to the 1961 handover of the trust to LBI and the 1979 termination of JASC.

In addition to the prospective settlers and the JASC officers (Frederic Borchardt, Franz Wolf, Fritz Schwarzschild, and Hermann Simon), the following people and organizations are also found frequently in the correspondence: Dr. J. L. Seligsohn (Reichsvertretung), James Rosenberg (JDC), Ludwig Grunebaum, the Joint Distribution Committee, and the Jewish Colonization Association.

Two brochures extolling Paraná, Brazil's potential for settlement are found in this collection, as are two maps from the Sosua Project in the Dominican Republic. The maps are photostat copies, one of the entire Dominican Republic noting the site of the Sosua project near Puerto Plata, and one cadastral (property) survey of the proposed project's land. Also included is a 1939 list of settlers that has about 300 names, noting the birth date, place of residence in Germany, profession, and relation to other family members of each person. The collection also contains the JASC corporate seal.

The financial documents include JASC bank statements from the Bank of Manhattan; a complete financial ledger that includes details of repayments to investors, heirs, and relatives; the stock book and stock ledger; and tax returns and related correspondence.

Dates

  • 1930-1982

Creator

Language of Materials

This collection is in German and English.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Historical Note

The Jewish Agricultural Settlement Corporation (JASC) was the American branch of the Juedische Landarbeit GmbH, an organization that sought to resettle German-Jewish farmers to Brazil, and to a lesser extent to the Dominican Republic, during the 1930s.

The Juedische Landarbeit GmbH (JLA) was founded 1930 by Martin Gerson as a Halutzim organization for teaching German Jews agricultural skills. In cooperation with the Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden, in the late 1930s the organization sought to resettle German-Jewish farmers, primarily in Paraná, Brazil.

The financial arrangement involved the German-Jewish farmers donating their blocked German currency to the Juedische Landarbeit GmbH, which in turn purchased the land and organized the settlements. Some of the settlers were to own the land, and others to farm the land as tenants. Each settlement was to be based on small groups of 40 people, ideally around ten families of four members each. As of 1940, nearly 170 people had signed up, and capital of 150,000 Reichsmarks had been collected.

In 1939 the Juedische Landarbeit GmbH found it necessary to form a legal entity in the United States, and the Jewish Agricultural Settlement Corporation (JASC) was founded in New York. Its stated purpose was to regulate the relationship between the land owners and tenants, and complete the responsibility of providing the paid-up capital to the settlers. The initial corporation stockholders and administrators in New York were Frederic Borchardt, Franz Wolf, and Fritz Schwarzschild. Hermann Simon quickly took over for Borchardt.

The settlement plan came closest to success in Paraná, Brazil. In 1938, Heinrich Kaphan and Frankfurt attorney Max Hermann Maier moved to Paraná, Brazil, and began making arrangements for the settlers. However, due to difficulties with the Brazilian government, the proposed settlement was never founded. JASC examined other sites in Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, but was unable to found a settlement before the outbreak of war.

It became clear around 1941 that creating a settlement in the near future was unlikely. JASC began returning invested funds, and at the request of its investors also shifted them to other organizations such as the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA, an Argentine settlement organization). However, due to wartime restriction on accounts, full-scale returns were not initiated until 1946. Until its dissolution in 1980, JASC focused on refunding the invested money to the survivors and relatives of those who had invested with the Juedische Landarbeit GmbH. It is not entirely clear from the collection, but it appears that many of the prospective settlers were unable to escape Germany and perished in the Holocaust. In 1947, JASC asked the JDC to take over its accounts, but was not successful. In 1961, the Leo Baeck Institute took over the trust. LBI paid out the last of the claims, and in 1980 JASC was dissolved.

Extent

2 Linear Feet

Abstract

The collection contains the records of the Jewish Agricultural Settlement Corporation (JASC), the American branch of the Juedische Landarbeit GmbH, an organization that sought to resettle German-Jewish farmers to Brazil during the 1930s. The files mostly concern the legal and financial maintenance of the organization, but there are also some documents about the settlements and the settlers, particularly from 1939 to 1941. The documents after 1946 concern refunds and the legal administration of JASC.

Arrangement

This collection is divided into two sections, General Files and Financial Records. Each section is arranged alphabetically by folder title. Within the folders, documents are in the order they were found, mostly in reverse-chronological order.

Related Material

The memoir of Max Hermann Maier (ME 415) includes discussion of his life in Paraná, Brazil.

Processing Information

Documents were rehoused in acid-free folders. Binders and envelopes were removed; those binder tabs and envelopes with additional information were photocopied. Wherever possible, folder titles were transcribed. The documents within each folder were generally not rearranged.

Much of the paper is fragile and crumbling.
Title
Guide to the Jewish Agricultural Settlement Corporation Collection 1930-1982 AR 25244
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Kevin Schlottmann
Date
© 2011
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
Made possible by the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources through The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support "Illuminating Hidden Collections at the Center for Jewish History"

Revision Statements

  • April 26, 2013 : Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States