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American Federation of Jews from Central Europe Collection

 Collection
Identifier: AR 4420

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists mainly of responses from over 400 communities to a questionnaire survey sent by the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe between 1944 and 1945 to collect information on the communal property owned by Jewish communities in Germany prior to November, 1938. The questionnaires were sent to representatives of thousands of German-Jewish communities, most of whom were themselves émigrés and refugees living in the United States or England. Some 1,050 usable responses were received. Materials related to this survey found in this collection consist of completed questionnaires and correspondence. Also included are oversized charts of the data collected from this survey, such as population, monetary value of communal property, names of local community organizations, and number of Torah scrolls in communities. See Series II for a full list of the names of communities represented in the survey results.

Further materials in the collection include lists of cities, general correspondence, addresses, bylaws, and drafts of restitution laws. Inventories of the collection from 1977 and 2005 are also included, and the former contains a complete list of communities mentioned in the collection.

Dates

  • 1942-2005
  • Majority of material found within 1944-1947

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English and German.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

Historical Note

The American Federation of Jews from Central Europe (the Federation) was an organization that assisted Jewish immigrants in the United States with many services and advocated for the rights of these immigrants in their new home. The activities of the Federation include supporting restitution efforts, guarding American civil rights of German-Jewish immigrants, and providing educational and other social services to new immigrants.

The American Federation of Jews from Central Europe grew out of the activities of several New York City Jewish-German clubs that served as community centers for German-Jewish immigrants during the first decades of the twentieth century. Many of these clubs were brought together in 1926 under a central office, the German Jewish Center, which served German Jewish immigrants in New York with legal advice, job placement, immigration paperwork, and health care. Many of the leaders of the German Jewish Center later became board members of the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe, which was formally founded in 1939 in New York.

In 1941, the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe was incorporated, and its main focus became immigration. The Federation fought, albeit unsuccessfully, to exempt German-Jewish refugees from enemy alien status, which was assigned to them when the U.S. entered World War II. The Federation also filed affidavits for many Jews fleeing Nazi persecution and proposed opening free ports that would offer temporary protection to Jewish refugees.

The American Federation of Jews from Central Europe took on the concern of restitution and indemnification as early as 1942, raising money to help Jewish survivors of Nazi persecution and lobbying for the passage of restitution laws after the end of the war. To provide fair legal representation for inexperienced claimants, the United Restitution Organization was formed in 1948 with branch in New York City that functioned as part of the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe.

In 1945, the Council of Jews from Germany was founded as an umbrella organization to represent Jewish survivors of Nazi persecution in restitution matters. The Federation was one of the founding member organizations, along with the Association of Jewish Refugees in Great Britain and the Irgun Olej Merkas Europa in Palestine.

Further activities of the Federation included providing cultural support for German Jewish immigrants in the U.S., particularly through cooperation with the Leo Baeck Institute and the Research Foundation for Jewish Immigration.

References

American Federation of Jews from Central Europe. Former Jewish Communal Property in Germany: A Questionnaire Survey Compiled and Analyzed by the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe. New York: American Federation of Jews from Central Europe, 1947.

Teifer, Hermann. “History of the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe.” American Federation of Jews from Central Europe. 50th Anniversary Luncheon. 24 November 1991.

Extent

1 Linear Feet

Abstract

This collection consists mainly of responses to a 1944 questionnaire sent by the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe to collect information on the communal property owned by Jewish communities in Germany prior to November 1938. Materials include completed questionnaires, correspondence, lists of reporting congregations, addresses, charts of data collected, and a final report. A small amount of materials related to other functions of the Federation is also included.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into two series.

Series I contains general papers and reports of the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe. These materials relate either to the 1944-1947 survey as a whole or to the functions of the Federation more generally.

Series II contains the questionnaires and related correspondence from the 1944-1947 survey of Jewish communities arranged alphabetically by community or region.

Digitization Note

This collection was digitized and made available in its entirety.

Related Material

The LBI Archives hold collections for several Jewish communities in Germany, some of which contain materials that detail information about those communities similar to the information found in this collection (e.g. communal property, population, residents, addresses, etc.).

A manuscript on the history of the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe written by Hermann Teifer is available at the LBI Archives Manuscript Collection: MS 593

The LBI Archives also holds a microfilm copy of the archives of the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe, including meeting transcripts, correspondence, by-laws, and clippings: DM 223

Yeshiva University Libraries hold a collection of similar materials: American Federation of Jews from Central Europe, Inc. Collection, 1933-1956.

Processing Information

Duplicates were removed. Materials were rehoused into acid-free archival folders. Oversized materials were separated into larger folders and boxes.
Title
Guide to the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe Collection 1942-2005 (bulk 1944-1947) AR 4420
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Leanora Lange
Date
© 2013
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
Described, encoded, and digitized as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

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