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Displaced Persons Camps and Centers Photograph Collection

Identifier: RG 294.5

Scope and Content Note

The collection is comprised of photographs of various provenances related to the lives of Jewish displaced persons (DPs) in the period immediately following the Second World War, from 1945 to 1952. The photographs pertain to DP camps and communities in the Allied occupation zones in Germany, Austria, and Italy, primarily those established by the American and British military, and administered by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), and later the International Refugee Organization (IRO). Approximately 60% of the collection pertains to Germany; 25% to Austria; and 15% to Italy.

Diverse aspects of daily life among the DPs are depicted, such as school, vocational training, mealtimes, distributions of food and clothing, handicrafts and trades, sports and recreational activities, children at play, committee meetings, religious life, theater, children’s performances, Jewish holiday celebrations and parades, and gatherings on festive occasions, including weddings.

Among the activities depicted are many related to programs of Jewish voluntary organizations, especially vocational schools run by World ORT, and food and clothing distributions, vocational training, and emigration assistance of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC).

The settings depicted include camp buildings and grounds, kitchens, canteens, post offices, barbershops, distribution centers, meeting rooms, sports fields, summer camps, synagogues or prayer rooms, sanatoriums, hospitals, and cemeteries.

The photographs capture leaders of the Jewish DP zonal and camp committees, DP police, and Zionist living collectives (kibbutzim), as well as notable military, political, and cultural personalities of the period, such as Lucius D. Clay, Fiorello LaGuardia, David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Gruenbaum, and H. Leivick.

Many photographs in the collection document commemorative events, ceremonial burials, and unveilings of monuments honoring those who died in the Holocaust, including events organized by landslayt of Jewish prewar communities in Eastern Europe. The photographs also reflect political and historical developments, including the major congresses of the Jewish DP leaderships in Germany, Austria, and Italy; protest demonstrations concerning British policies regulating immigration to Palestine, including specific incidents such as the capture and return to Europe of the illegal immigrant ship “Exodus 1947”; and events held upon the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.

The collection contains mostly loose photographs, with inclusion of some 15 bound albums created by contemporary participants, some of which have handwritten or typed captions, usually in Yiddish. Many of the loose photographs have inscriptions on the versos.


  • Creation: circa 1920s-1959
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1945-1952

Language of Materials

Inscriptions on the versos of photographs, and occasional textual materials are in Yiddish, English, Hebrew, German, and Polish.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public. Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained in writing from the YIVO Archives.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:

YIVO Archives, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011


Historical Note

Displaced Persons

In the final stages of the Second World War, surviving prisoners in Nazi concentration camps were liberated by the Allies beginning with Majdanek in July 1944, and Auschwitz, in January 1945. Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, and other camps were liberated from April to May 1945. The German unconditional surrender was signed on May 7, 1945.

The war left in its wake 6.5 to 7 million persons of Allied nationality living outside of their countries of origin and regarded as "displaced persons" (DPs) by the military authorities and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), the newly created international agency (founded November 1943) charged with supporting the repatriation process and coordinating relief efforts. (German refugees, as "ex-enemy nationals," were not accorded DP status; initially this exclusion applied even to German Jews.) The Allies set up DP 'assembly centers' – commonly known as DP camps – in Germany, Austria, and Italy, to temporarily shelter and care for these refugees, who, it was hoped, would soon be on their way home. By September 1945, approximately three-quarters, or some six million DPs were indeed able to be repatriated to their lands of origin. However, approximately one million people, for whom repatriation, for various reasons, was problematic, remained in the camps. Jewish DPs formed a portion of this group (Königseder & Wetzel, 15).

Thousands of former concentration camp prisoners died of malnutrition and illness in the weeks immediately following liberation. The historian Yehuda Bauer estimates that approximately 50,000 Jewish DPs were in Germany and Austria in August 1945, with the following breakdown: 14-15,000 in Bavaria; 13,000 in Bergen-Belsen (in Lower Saxony, in the British Zone); 8,000 in Berlin; and 7,000 in Vienna (Bauer, 48).

Early on the Jewish survivors referred to themselves as She’arit ha-Pletah – from biblical sources, meaning 'the surviving remnant' – and the term came into general usage during the period of the Allied Occupation (Mankowitz, 1-2).

Growth of Jewish DP population

Beginning in the fall of 1945 the survivors of the camps were joined by two other major groups of Jewish displaced persons: former partisans, i.e. men and women who had escaped from ghettos or death transports and had fought against the Nazis in guerilla bands on the Eastern front or in the Balkans; and Jews who migrated westward from Eastern Europe (Pinson, 103-104).

In the beginning of 1946, as a result of Soviet-Polish negotiations, the Polish Jews who had survived the war in the Soviet Union – numbering as many as 200,000 – were given the choice of remaining there or returning home; the great majority of them, an estimated 175,000, decided to return to Poland, where they hoped to reunite with relatives and to reclaim their homes and property (Königseder & Wetzel, 45). When they attempted to do so, however, they mostly found that they were unwelcome by the Polish population and not able to reestablish themselves. A postwar resurgence of anti-Semitism in Poland culminated in an infamous pogrom in the city of Kielce on July 4, 1946, in which 42 Jews were killed. Consequently, the year 1946 saw what amounted to a mass exodus of Jews from Eastern Europe, primarily Poland, into Germany and Austria, from where the refugees hoped to be able to emigrate.

The westward migration of East European Jews across national borders and occupation lines – crossings that for the most part were not officially sanctioned – was fostered by a semi-clandestine Zionist network, the Brichah (from the Hebrew, meaning 'flight'), with the ultimate goal of supporting emigration to Palestine (Erets Yisrael, the land of Israel). The United States (U.S.) Zone was especially affected: between January 1946 and October of the same year, the number of registered Jewish DPs nearly quadrupled, from 36,000 to 141,000 (Königseder & Wetzel, 43). According to a UNRRA survey of 127,000 Jews in the U.S. Zone in November 1946, 71% were from Poland, 6% from Hungary, 4% from Czechoslovakia, 2.5% from Germany, 2.5% from Romania, 2% from Austria, and something over 10% were from other countries, or were stateless (Königseder & Wetzel, 52-53).

Italy also saw an influx of East European Jews who hoped to have a better chance of emigrating to Palestine from there. Jewish DPs numbered approximately 6,000 in the DP camps in Italy in September 1945 (Pflanzelter, 86-87). According to Brichah statistics, approximately 50,000 Jewish refugees came to Italy from Austria and Germany in the period from 1945 to 1948 (Pflanzelter, 104).

The total number of Jewish DPs who resided in camps or communities in Germany, Austria, and Italy during the period from 1945 to 1952 is estimated at more than 250,000 (USHMM).

The DP camps

The camps that the Allies set up for the purpose of housing DPs varied in size and character. Camps were established on sites that had previously served as barracks, hotels, hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, and private homes. A single camp might have accommodated anywhere from 50 up to over 7,000 DPs at any given time (Königseder & Wetzel, 16). Except for the Bergen-Belsen DP camp (officially re-named the Belsen-Höhne camp), no other DP camp in Germany was set up on the site of a former concentration camp (Königseder & Wetzel, 171). Bergen-Belsen consisted of several sub-camps, and the one that had been the main concentration camp was evacuated and demolished in May 1945; it was the other areas of the compound, including a hospital and a former S.S. barracks and S.S. training school, that became the DP camp (Königseder & Wetzel, 169).

The total number of DP camps in the American Zone in Germany was 134 in December 1945 and reached a peak of 416 in June 1947. At that time there were 272 camps in the British Zone (down from a peak of 443 in December 1946); 45 in the French Zone; and in Austria and Italy a total of 21 and 8 camps, respectively (Shephard, 274). Due to the ideological stance of the Soviet Union, no DP camps were ever set up in its zone: displaced persons were expected to be quickly repatriated or else to integrate into Soviet society, and Jewish survivors were not accorded any special consideration (Königseder, 191).

The assembly centers, or DP camps, were initially under the control of the Allied military; as it became apparent that the situation of so-called 'non-repatriable' DPs would be of long-term duration, the administration of the camps was turned over to the UNRRA, in fall 1945. The camps remained under the general purview of the military, which continued to provide for housing and security, as well as the delivery of food, clothing, and medical supplies (Königseder & Wetzel, 29). The UNRRA supplemented the latter basic services with health and welfare services, recreational facilities, self-help programs, and vocational guidance. The responsibilities of the UNRRA (the first official United Nations organization, although its founding, in November 1943, preceded the establishment of the UN) were assumed by a successor UN organization, the International Refugee Organization, in late 1947.

Jewish Voluntary Organizations

The most important of the voluntary relief organizations that operated in the DP camps was the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC, or JDC), known colloquially as the "Joint." The JDC delivered supplementary food, clothing, and medical supplies to the camps; operated tracing bureaus to help survivors locate relatives and friends; ran vocational, educational and cultural programs; and assisted DPs in emigration matters. The JDC began sending teams into Germany in June 1945 but was initially hindered in its operations by the U.S. Army's reluctance to grant it wholesale permission to enter in all districts. After the Harrison report, the Army was more cooperative, and in the third week of August the JDC established a headquarters in Munich, at Siebertstrasse 3, where it remained for the next several years (Bauer, 51-54). The JDC's expenditures in Germany, Austria, and Italy combined were $729,000 in 1945, and reached a peak of over $11 million, in 1947 (Bauer, xviii).

World ORT had a network of vocational schools for DPs, teaching a wide range of skills such as tailoring, carpentry, metalworking, mechanics, electrical work, and dental technology, with accompanying theoretical courses. The first such school was established in the Landsberg camp near Munich in August 1945 by Jacob Oleiski, who had been the ORT leader in Lithuania before the war. At the peak of its activity in Germany, in January 1948, ORT ran 496 classes in 53 different trades, taught by 721 teachers, and with 8,412 students attending (Königseder & Wetzel, 113-114).

ORT also set up schools for Jewish DPs in Austria and Italy, beginning at the end of 1946. In Austria the first school was opened in Vienna in December 1946; and by the end of 1947, there were ORT schools in eight additional locations (Ebelsberg, Steyr, Wels, Salzburg, Hofgastein, Hallein, Linz and Bindermilch). By October 1947 ORT's programs in Austria covered 50 different trades and had enrollments of over 10,000 students, about a third of them in Vienna (World ORT, "DP Camps in Austria"). In Italy, after initial difficulties related to poor conditions in the camps, and a scarcity of Polish- and Yiddish-speaking instructors, ORT programs developed rapidly in 1947, by November encompassing 1476 students at 58 training institutions (World ORT, "DP Camps in Italy").

The Harrison Report

In July 1945 Earl G. Harrison was sent to Germany as a special envoy from Washington to investigate conditions in the DP camps, with particular attention to the Jewish survivors. The report he submitted to President Truman on August 24 described abysmal conditions that needed to be remedied, such as overcrowding, inadequate clothing, and lack of medical supplies; and also emphasized the necessity of recognizing the Jewish refugees as constituting a group with special needs as a result of the persecution they had endured. Harrison concluded that the great majority of Jewish DPs desired to emigrate to Palestine. He called for 100,000 immigration certificates to be issued immediately, as the Jewish Agency for Palestine had proposed, in contrast to the very limited immigration (15,000 per year) that Great Britain was then allowing under the terms of its White Paper of 1939. Within days President Truman took up the latter point with the British, urging them to open up immigration to Palestine accordingly, although to no avail.

The Harrison report had a significant impact on American policies affecting Jewish DPs: exclusively Jewish camps were established; ex-enemy nationals who had been persecuted under Nazism were recognized as UN DPs; daily rations in the camps were increased; and a special adviser on Jewish affairs was appointed as a liaison to the U.S. Army, based on recommendations from major Jewish organizations (Königseder & Wetzel, 34-38).

The first camps to be designated as exclusively Jewish, in fall 1945, were Feldafing (an all-Jewish camp, even before the Harrison report), Landsberg, and Föhrenwald, all in the Munich district of Bavaria. Although the British declined to follow suit, they did subsequently establish separate housing for Jews at the Bergen-Belsen camp (Königseder & Wetzel, 171-172). Königseder and Wetzel provide a compilation of profiles of DP camps in Germany that were either exclusively or majority Jewish, listing 149 in the American Zone; 22 in the British Zone; and 11 in the French Zone ("Appendix: List of Camps," 215-255). There were at least 12 camps for Jewish DPs in Austria (World ORT, "DP Camps in Austria").

The position of adviser to the U.S. Army on Jewish affairs was held by the following individuals: Rabbi Judah P. Nadich (August to October 1945); Simon H. Rifkind (October to November 1945); Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein (May 1946 to August 1947); Louis E. Levinthal (August 1947 to January 1948); William Haber (January 1948 to January 1949); and Harry Greenstein (February 1949 to October 1949). In November 1949, Abraham S. Hyman, who had been the assistant adviser since 1946, took over the post as acting adviser, and on December 31, 1949 officially closed the office in Frankfurt am Main (Königseder & Wetzel, 35).

Representation and self-government

The Jewish DP communities were not merely passive subjects of policy. From the beginning they began to organize and exercise self-reliance. Before the end of 1945, Central Committees representing the She'erith Hapletah were formed in the American, British, and French Occupation Zones of Germany, as well as in Austria and Italy. These representative bodies gave the DP communities a common voice vis-à-vis the military authorities, and exercised some degree of de facto political influence. In the American Zone of Germany the Central Committee also achieved recognition on an official level, with the American military's endorsement of its charter in September 1946 (Königseder & Wetzel, 87-89).

The first provisional committee to represent liberated Jews in Germany was organized at Bergen-Belsen DP camp, in the British Zone, just a few days after liberation, in April 1945. It was led by Josef Rosensaft, from Bedzin, Poland, a survivor of Auschwitz and other camps. Among Rosensaft’s colleagues were Rosensaft's future wife, Hadassah Binkow, and Rabbi Hermann Helfgott (later known as Zvi Asaria), from Yugoslavia, who had been a prisoner of war. Helfgott (Asaria) was appointed chief rabbi in the British Zone.

At the First Congress of Liberated Jews in the British Zone, held September 25-27, 1945, in the Bergen-Belsen DP camp, a Central Committee was officially elected, with Rosensaft as its chair. A second such congress was held at Belsen and Bad Harzburg, on July 20-23, 1947. Rosensaft continued to serve as chair until the committee was dissolved in August 1951 (Königseder & Wetzel, 90).

In the American Zone the key leader in the early period was Zalman Grinberg, a physician from Kovno (Kaunas) who upon liberation had managed to establish a Jewish hospital in the former Benedictine monastery at St. Ottilien, near Landsberg, in the Munich district. Grinberg early on met up with Rabbi Abraham J. Klausner, a U.S. Army chaplain, who became a prominent advocate for the DP community. Grinberg led a meeting of survivors at St. Ottilien on May 27, 1945, on which occasion the reconstituted Kovno ghetto orchestra performed. Then on July 1, representatives of 41 camps throughout Bavaria met at the Feldafing camp to establish a regional committee (Königseder & Wetzel, 81).

A general conference of representatives of surviving Jews was convened at St. Ottilien, on July 25, 1945, with 94 delegates in attendance, from 46 different DP communities all over Germany and Austria (Mankowitz, 49), including Josef Rosensaft and his colleagues from the British Zone. Ultimately, however, the leadership in the American and the British Zones maintained their independence and no further joint efforts came to fruition.

In the American Zone, DP leaders, with the help of Rabbi Klausner, organized the first congress for the entire U.S. Zone, on January 27-28, 1946, in Munich, at which elections were held and the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the U.S. Zone was officially established. Among the attendees were American military leaders, Jewish leaders from the U.S. and Britain, and David Ben-Gurion, chair of the executive committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine (later, the first prime minister of Israel), who gave an address (Bauer, 94-95).

Two further congresses were held in the U.S. Zone, on February 25-27, 1947 and on March 30 – April 2, 1948, both times in Bad Reichenhall. Zalman Grinberg, who was elected as chair of the Central Committee at the first congress, emigrated to Palestine in July 1946, and was succeeded in that post by David Treger, an accountant and journalist from Kovno, and a survivor of Dachau. When Treger emigrated to Israel, on November 1, 1948, Pesach Piekatch became chair. Originally from Lodz, Poland, Piekatch had survived the war in Siberia, and was among those who had come to Germany from Eastern Europe after the war. Another prominent leader in the U.S. Zone was Samuel Gringauz, who was the first chair of the camp committee at the Landsberg DP camp, and also served as chair of the Council of the Liberated Jews in the U.S. Zone, a policy-making body related to but distinct from the Central Committee. The Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the U.S. Zone officially ceased its activities in December 1950, with Rabbi Samuel Abba Snieg presiding over a farewell ceremony (Königseder & Wetzel, 93).

Only a small proportion of Jewish DPs were in the French Zone. They elected a Central Committee in December 1945, with Abraham Hochhäuser as its head; he was later succeeded in August 1947 by Chaim Erenberg (Königseder & Wetzel, 79-80).

In addition to the central committees operating on the level of the occupation zones, each individual camp typically elected a committee and had an array of self-run administrative and cultural functions, including Jewish DP police, camp court (with jurisdiction over minor internal disputes), and a culture department. Various camp facilities would also be run by the DPs themselves (e.g. kitchen, distribution centers, library, barbershop). Some DPs also became teachers and instructors, and served as doctors and nurses in the camps. Some of the camps had their own Yiddish-language newspapers, and some had theater groups.


Under the British Mandate, Britain's stance of restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine was a contentious issue and the subject of protest from the DP communities. Prior to the establishment of the state of Israel approximately 69,000 Jewish DPs attempted illegal immigration with the help of Brichah. Less than half of them were successful; more often the would-be immigrants were arrested by the British and interned on the island of Cyprus (Königseder & Wetzel, 147). Among the most notable occasions of protest demonstrations was the episode of the illegal immigrant ship known as "Exodus 1947," which was captured by the British off the shores of Palestine in July 1947 and eventually brought back to France and then to Germany, from where the passengers were resettled again in DP camps. After the proclamation of the state of Israel in May 1948 there was a robust stream of immigration to Israel. Through 1950 over 97,000 Jewish DPs emigrated to Israel from Germany, Austria, and Italy (JDC figures; Bauer, 291); and the DP population shrank accordingly.

The possibility of Jewish DPs emigrating to the U.S. was also problematic at first, due to the national-origins quota system that had been in effect since 1924. An executive order issued by President Truman on December 22, 1945 (known as the Truman directive) required American consulates to give preference to displaced persons within the boundaries of the existing quota system; yet, even under the directive, only 22,950 visas were issued to DPs in Germany by June 30, 1947, and just 15,478 of those were to Jews (Bauer, 87). Another hopeful juncture was the enactment of the Displaced Persons Act, in June 1948; however, its provisions in effect discriminated against Jewish DPs. Eligibility was limited to those who had attained DP status on or before December 22, 1945, whereas the majority of East European Jewish DPs did not arrive as refugees in the Western zones before 1946. The amendment of that act, on June 16, 1950, belatedly opened the door to Jewish DPs, by raising the number of refugees allowed in and also changing the cut-off date to January 1, 1949.

From the end of the war through 1952, approximately 136,000 Jewish DPs emigrated to Palestine, or, later, Israel; 80,000 to the United States; and 20,000 to other nations, including Canada and South Africa (USHMM). Most of the DP camps in Germany, Austria, and Italy closed by 1952. In Germany, the legal responsibility for the remaining DP population was transferred to the West German government (the new Federal Republic of Germany) in 1951, and by the end of 1952 Föhrenwald was the only remaining camp. It finally closed on February 28, 1957 (Bauer, 294-295).


Bauer, Yehuda. Out of the Ashes: The Impact of American Jews on Post-Holocaust European Jewry. Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press, 1999.

Königseder, Angelika. "Durchgangsstation Berlin: jüdische Displaced Persons 1945-1948." Überlebt und unterwegs: jüdische Displaced Persons im Nachkriegsdeutschland. Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag, 1997. 189-205.

Königseder, Angelika, and Juliane Wetzel. Waiting for Hope: Jewish Displaced Persons in Post-World War II Germany. Trans. John A. Broadwin. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2001.

Mankowitz, Zeev W. Life Between Memory and Hope: The Survivors of the Holocaust in Occupied Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 18.

Pfanzelter, Eva. "Between Brenner and Bari: Jewish refugees in Italy 1945 to 1948." Journal of Israeli History: Politics, Society, Culture: 19.3 (1998), 83-104.

Pinson, Koppel S. "Jewish Life in Liberated Germany: A Study of the Jewish DP's." Jewish Social Studies 9.2 (April 1947): 101-126.

United States Holocaust Museum (USHMM). "Displaced Persons." Holocaust Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

World Ort. "DP Camps in Austria," ORT and the Displaced Persons Camps [website]. Retrieved from

World ORT. "DP Camps in Italy," ORT and the Displaced Persons Camps [website]. Retrieved from


8.75 Linear Feet (4 file drawers + 2 oversize boxes)


The collection is comprised of photographs of various provenances related to the lives of Jewish displaced persons (DPs) in the period immediately following the Second World War, from 1945 to 1952. The photographs pertain to DP camps and communities in the Allied occupation zones in Germany, Austria, and Italy, primarily those established by the American and British military, and administered by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, and, later, the International Refugee Organization. Diverse aspects of daily life among the DPs are depicted, such as school, work, recreation, and vocational training, including many activities sponsored by Jewish voluntary organizations, especially World ORT and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Also depicted are cultural activities such as theater, children’s performances, Jewish holiday celebrations and parades, and commemorative events honoring those who died in the Holocaust. The photographs capture leaders of the Jewish DP zonal and camp committees, DP police, and Zionist living collectives (kibbutzim), as well as notable military, political, and cultural personalities of the period, such as Lucius D. Clay, Fiorello LaGuardia, David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Gruenbaum, and H. Leivick. The photographs also reflect political and historical developments, including the major congresses of the DP leaderships in Germany, Austria, and Italy; protest demonstrations concerning British policies regulating immigration to Palestine; and events held upon the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.


Following the arrangement used in a previous processing, the photographs are arranged primarily according to geographic location, with photographs relating to Germany, Austria, and Italy comprising the first three series, respectively. The fourth series contains a few files for which a country location could not be verified; and the fifth series contains photographs of the Leo W. Schwarz Papers (RG 294.1), which relate mainly to Germany, with a few items pertaining to France, England, and Israel.

Within each country series, the photographs are further grouped according to locality (mainly DP-camp, city, or town); and within each locality the photographs are arranged according to subject. The Leo W. Schwarz photographs (Series V) are arranged generally according to subject, with some groupings pertaining to specific localities.

  1. Series I: Germany, 1935, 1945-1952
  2. Series II: Austria, 1946-1952
  3. Series III: Italy, 1942-1949
  4. Series IV: Unidentified localities, 1946, 1959, undated
  5. Series V: From the Leo W. Schwarz Papers, circa 1920s, 1938, 1943-1950

Acquisition Information

The photographs of the Leo W. Schwarz Papers (Series V), like the other materials in that collection (RG 294.1), were collected by Leo W. Schwarz and donated to YIVO in 1959. The remaining items in the collection are of diverse provenances, donated mostly between 1945 and the 1960s, and were brought together by YIVO in the present collection.

Many of these photographs were gathered as a result of a wide collection project that was begun by YIVO in Europe in 1945. The aim of the project was to locate and collect archival materials on the Holocaust and the post-war years of Jewish revival in war-ravaged Europe. The history of the Jewish displaced persons figured prominently in this project. YIVO issued appeals to the DPs in camps and centers, and organized voluntary committees of YIVO friends to coordinate the gathering of relevant materials which were forwarded to YIVO in New York.

Much information about the provenance of specific photographs is found in inscriptions and stamps on the versos; the creators of albums are also sometimes identified inside the album. Scattered photographs throughout the collection have the stamp of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC, or JDC); or World ORT. Following are some of the other donors who contributed larger numbers of photographs:


Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the British Zone, Culture department (Bergen-Belsen DP camp); the Jewish Historical Commission and Culture department at Berlin-Schlachtensee (Düppel Center); Central Historical Commission, Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the U.S. Zone, Munich; Jewish Historical Commission, Leipheim; Association of Jews of Vilna; Vaad Hatzala (New York, NY); Central Committee of Liberated Jews in Austria in the American Zone, Culture department; Internationales Komitee für jüdische KZ-ler und Flüchtlinge, Vienna (International Committee for Transient Jewish Ex-Internees and Refugees), directed by Bronislav Teichholz (later known as Bruce Teicholz); Jüdisches Wissenschaftliches Institut in USA (YIVO), office in Ebelsberg bei Linz; and the Jewish DP committee in Grugliasco, Italy (Waad Tarbuti; Szel Machnat Haplejtim)

Individuals (some of whom may have collected on behalf of committees)

Chaim Bank, Mordecai Bernstein, Berl Bensman, Alfred Fleishman, Joseph Foxman (Fuchsman), David Graysdorf, Shmerke Katcherginski, Izak Kleber, David Kupferberg, Simcha Lazar, Moshe Mandelman, V. Mishelski (later known as William W. Mishell), Berl Rabach, Mordkhe Schaechter, I. Zvi Sobel, Kurt Weigel, and Chaim Michal Zilberberg (Silberberg)


M. Bengis, B. Bogatin, Sz. Cylich, Bernard Ginsburg, Alex Hochhäuser, George Kadish (Kadisch), Els Lessmann, Henry Majtek, Breslawski Schneiderman, and Wolf Schärf

Digitization Note

Currently, archival material through Folder 500 (Strobl-6) has been digitized and is digitally available. The collection will eventually be digitized in its entirety. Due to copyright concerns, some digitized material is only available on-site in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. Many folders have mixed access, with some photographs being openly available online and others in the same folder that are limited to onsite access only. Please contact the YIVO Archives at with any questions.

Related Material

This collection is closely related to the following collections held at YIVO which contain records pertaining to Jewish DP camps and centers in the post-World War II period:

Papers of Leo W. Schwarz (RG 294.1)

Records of Displaced Person Camps and Centers in Germany (RG 294.2)

Records of DP Camps and Centers in Italy (RG 294.3)

Records of DP Camps and Centers in Austria (RG 294.4)

The ORT Photograph Collection (RG 380), also held by YIVO, contains photographs related to World ORT activities in the DP camps (see Series III). Other collections of photographs related to the DP camps and centers are found in the photograph archives of Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC.

Processing information

During a previous processing most of the photographs were divided into categories according to country, and then grouped by localities. Within localities they were often grouped by general subjects; and groups of photographs were stored in large envelopes. In a portion of the collection photographs were placed in individual archival sleeves. During the present processing the previous system of arrangement has been followed and further refined, and the resulting groupings of photographs have been transferred into acid-free folders (within the folders, groups of smaller photographs have been stored in acid-free envelopes). Also, the inscriptions on the backs of the photographs were examined in order to verify, correct, or identify the locality to which the photograph belonged, and to learn about the context. Due to time constraints, not all of the inscriptions could be fully examined, and only selected details have been incorporated into the folder descriptions, including, in some (not all) instances, the name of the donor, or other information about provenance. Within the context of any particular locality file, every effort was made to reconstitute groupings of photographs that could be discerned to have originally belonged together.

Guide to the Displaced Persons Camps and Centers Photograph Collection 1920s-1959 (bulk 1945-1952) RG 294.5
Partially processed by YIVO staff. Additional processing completed, and finding aid compiled and encoded by Violet Lutz.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

Revision Statements

  • May 2016: Folder numbers updated and related materials dao links added by Leanora Lange.
  • October 2016: dao links added by Eric Fritzler.
  • February 2017: dao added links by Sarah Glover.
  • February 2018: digitization note updated by Leanora Lange.

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States