Papers of Leo W. Schwarz
Scope and Content Note
The materials in this collection are, for the most part, the administrative files of Leo W. Schwarz in his capacity as the JDC Director of the U.S. Zone of Germany, a position he held for the years 1946-1947, although there are also earlier materials. In addition, there are JDC documents of later years, indicating that Leo Schwarz continued accumulating documents even after leaving his post, possibly for the purpose of writing The Redeemers, a book about his experiences, which was published in 1953.
The records consist of correspondence, minutes, reports, memoranda, statutes, statistics, circulars, maps of JDC operations in Germany, bulletins, personnel lists, financial records, and other material relating to Jewish DPs in Germany after World War II. These include materials relating to the organizational structure of the JDC and its work in the U.S. Zone as well as its relationship to the U.S. military authorities and to international relief agencies, including the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (UNRRA), and its successor, the International Rescue Organization (PCIRO, IRO).
The files relating to displaced persons camps and centers contain materials of the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the U.S. Zone, materials of the DP congresses, correspondence and reports of JDC regional offices, and materials from individual camps. Of special importance are the periodic reports filed by JDC representatives about their inspections of numerous Jewish DP installations in their respective districts. There are also files of the various JDC departments, including the Religious Department, the Health Department, the Welfare and Personal Service Department, the Education and Cultural Activities Department, and the Legal Department, and information about the Jewish DPs in the British and French Zones and in Berlin. There are also several memoirs and eyewitness testimony accounts of the Holocaust collected from survivors in the DP camps, folklore and satire about the life of Jewish displaced persons and the manuscript of Schwarz's own memoir of his time with the JDC, The Redeemers,.
This record group provides a vital source for the history of the Jewish displaced persons after the Second World War, and of the substantial relief effort organized on their behalf by the JDC. The papers occupy over 21 linear feet of shelf space in 51 manuscript boxes. The collection is on 48 reels of microfilm, designated as MKM 488. The inclusive dates are 1940-1954.
Language of Materials
The collection is in English, with some German, Hebrew and Yiddish.
The collection is open to the public. Permission to publish part of parts of the collection must be obtained in writing from the YIO Archives.
There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011
Biographical and Historical Note
Leo W. Schwarz was born in New York in 1906. He was the author of several anthologies of Jewish literature, including The Jewish Caravan (1935) and A Golden Treasury of Jewish Literature (1937). During World War II, he served in the United States Army. From 1946 to 1947, he directed the operations of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in the U.S. Zone in Germany at a time when it had begun to shift focus from fulfilling the basic material needs of the Jewish Displaced Persons (DPs) to providing for their rehabilitation and emigration. His book, The Redeemers, (1953), is a memoir of his work with the JDC in post-war Germany. Schwarz later became a professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Iowa. He died in 1967.
The JDC, founded in 1914 to aid the Jewish victims of World War I, attained the peak of its relief activity between the years 1945 and 1952, when it spent $342 million on material aid to 250,000 DPs and other Jewish survivors of World War II in Europe. During this period, the bulk of its activities were concentrated in DP camps in the allied-occupied territories of Germany, Austria and Italy.
An August 1945 agreement between the JDC, the U.S. Army and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) allowed JDC relief workers to join in providing emergency aid to the 30,000 Jewish inmates then in DP camps in the U.S. Zone in Germany. Though the main burden of running the camps rested with the U.S. Army, which was responsible for the provision of food, clothing and shelter, and with UNRRA, which administered the camps, the JDC provided the camps with important supplementary aid and services. During the last four months of 1945, the JDC augmented DP provisions with over $700,000 in food, clothing and medicine trucked in from Switzerland, Denmark and France on surplus trucks which it had purchased from the U.S. Army. Initially, the JDC also assisted in the registration of camp inmates and organized tracing bureaus to aid in the reunion of families. In subsequent years, the JDC created new programs of welfare, medical aid, vocational training, and educational and cultural activity in the camps in the U.S. Zone.
In 1946, the DP population in the U.S. Zone in Germany was enlarged by 90,000 Polish Jews who had fled pogroms in Poland (particularly a July pogrom in Kielce which had claimed 42 Jewish lives). The Polish DPs were also attracted by reports of the special status which U.S. policy granted the Jewish DPs and the belief that Germany would be the organizational center of a mass emigration to Palestine as a result of the Anglo-American Commission recommendation that 100,000 Jewish DPs should be admitted into Palestine.
By 1946 the JDC had begun organizing emigration from within the U.S. Zone. While the Jewish Agency for Palestine was in charge of preparing Jews for aliyah and for the maintenance of hakhsharot (training farms), the JDC and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) facilitated the departure of tens of thousands of Jewish DPs for Palestine and other countries. The JDC provided potential emigrees with a range of services which included the matching of skills with prospective countries; helping them obtain passports, birth certificates and visas; arranging medical examinations; maintaining contact with overseas agencies and sponsors; and covering the travel expenses of the emigration itself. As well as aiding the emigration of individuals, the JDC also acted as a liaison between qualified Jewish DPs and the the Preparatory Commission of the International Refugee Organization (PCIRO), the interim agency established in 1947 to fill the hiatus between the demise of the UNRRA and its replacement by the International Refugee Organization (IRO), which arranged for the group emigration of skilled workers to Canada, Australia, and European countries. In 1947, 7,000 Jewish DPs left the U.S. Zone with JDC help and over half of them were able to enter the U.S. under the Truman Directive and U.S. quota laws.
1947 again saw the JDC struggling to cope with an influx of new DPs into the U.S. Zone. Famine in Rumania early in the year resulted in the infiltration into the U.S. Zone of thousands of Jewish DPs desperately in need of nutrition, clothing, shelter, and medical aid. The situation was aggravated by the April 21, 1947 “Freeze Order” of General Lucius Clay, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. European Command. That order prohibited camps run by the PCIRO, from accepting new inmates after July 2, 1947. The support of the 35,000 refugees who comprised this category fell to the JDC, who expanded their personnel from a staff of 44 in 1946 to 294 in 1947 in order to meet the growing needs of the DP community.
The JDC also reorganized its zones of operation in 1947. Five regions were consolidated into two districts, with Berlin included as a third, known as the “Berlin District.” “Eastern District #1, Land Bavaria” with headquarters in Munich covered the previous regions of Bamberg, Regensburg and Munich. “Western District #2, Greater Hesse, Wurttemberg-Baden” was comprised of the previous regions of Stuttgart, Frankfurt and the Kassel area and was based in Frankfurt. Each Zone had its own director who was under the jurisdiction of the overall U.S. Zone Director. The Zone Director, with the support of an assistant and an executive assistant, set policy and served as a liaison between the JDC and various organizations. These included the U.S. military, the Advisor on Jewish Affairs to the U.S. occupation forces, the PCIRO (later IRO), the Central Committee of Liberated Jews, and voluntary agencies such as ORT (The Society for Trades and Agricultural Labor), the Jewish Agency for Palestine and HIAS.
By 1947, the JDC had also begun to prepare the DPs for work and life outside the camps, with the establishment of work projects and the funding of ORT vocational training schools. The JDC provided supplementary food rations and amenities to Jewish DPs who worked as teachers, doctors, cooks, firemen, policemen, sanitation workers, and administrators in the camps. According to the JDC, by 1948 38,800 Jewish DPs out of a total population of 141,800 Jewish DPs in the U.S. Zone were employed in ORT vocational schools, in service in the DP camps and communities, at hakhsharot, and in JDC-supported tailoring, knitting and shoemaking projects.
Between July 1947 and May 1948, individual emigration of Jewish DPs was jointly funded by the JDC and the PCIRO. The IRO, upon its assumption of the PCIRO’s responsibilities in the spring of 1948, refused to help fund the migration of DPs to the war zone of Palestine. Yet by April 1949, the IRO had fully resumed its financial and tactical support of emigration to Israel and reimbursed the JDC for the interim expenses the JDC had incurred in transferring Jews to Palestine. In November 1949, the JDC and the Jewish Agency, with Israeli government support, founded MALBEN (Institute for the Care of Handicapped Immigrants) in Israel. MALBEN was established to care for the chronically ill, disabled and aged immigrants and other DPs who were hard to place. In 1950, the JDC began to move groups of invalids, who were among the last residents of the German DP camps, to Israel.
Responsibility for JDC U.S. Zone projects was divided among an array of Departments, all answerable to the Zone Director. They included: Personnel and Administration, Transport, Reports and Statistics, Finance, Public Relations, Employment, Emigration, Religious, Medical, Legal, Supply, Special Services, and Recreation and Education.
The JDC also maintained a full complement of health programs and institutions in the U.S. Zone. By 1948, 216 JDC-supported hospitals, sanatoriums, infirmaries, dispensaries, maternity wards, dental clinics, labs, children’s nutrition centers, and rest homes provided 4,629 beds to the Jewish DP community. For a population with a birth rate double that of the U.S. (in 1947, there were 10,000 infants under the age of one in the DP camps), the JDC provided feeding and health programs for expectant and nursing mothers, and supplied them with children’s clothing and other necessities. Through JDC nutrition centers and an immunization program, the health of a malnourished and weakened population was upgraded and maintained.
At the peak of its activities in 1948, the JDC supported 116 schools and kindergartens in the U.S. Zone with a combined student body of 7,843. The JDC completely subsidized the U.S. Zone’s Board for Education and Culture, which, through the combined efforts of the JDC, the Jewish Agency and the Central Committee for Liberated Jews, organized and ran the schools of the Jewish DP population. The JDC, through its Recreation and Education Department, also established summer camps for internee children which served as many as 8,000 per summer, and supported sport clubs and athletic facilities. The JDC’s Student Branch helped Jewish DPs gain entrance to universities, arranged scholarships and stipends for them, and chaired a verification commission which established the credentials of those who had earned professional degrees before the war.
The JDC also played a role in the cultural life of the camps by sponsoring tours by local and foreign performers like American Jewish actor Herman Yablokoff and Israeli dancer Paula Padani, as well as a Mobile Film Unit which traveled throughout the U.S. Zone with a repertoire of English and Yiddish films. Among the more than fifty theatrical groups in existence in the DP camps in the late forties, the JDC-sponsored Munich Yiddish Theatre (MIT) was prominent. The JDC helped finance and supply with newsprint the dozen or more newspapers and periodicals, mostly in Yiddish, which arose in the U.S. Zone in the post-war years.
Religious life was fostered by the JDC's Religious Department, which by 1947 subsidized 200 synagogues, 40 mikvot (ritual baths), 20 yeshivot and seminaries, 75 religious schools, and a seminar for shokhtim (kosher slaughterers) in the U.S. Zone. The Religious Department also maintained a rabbinical synod (Agudat Harabonim) of rabbis serving in the camps, and funded the printing and distribution of religious books. The JDC facilitated the observance of religious holidays by supplying the DP camps with ritual objects and food such as shofars, matzot and kosher wine.
The establishment in 1948 of the State of Israel and the Displaced Persons Act in the U.S. made the emigration of all DPs and the closing of the camps a priority. In 1948, the JDC, together with the Office of the Advisor on Jewish Affairs, the IRO, the U.S. Army, voluntary organizations, and DP leadership began to consolidate and reorganize the remaining DP camps. Special camps with homogeneous populations were created in the U.S. Zone for the dwindling population of Israel- and America-bound DPs, the persistent medical cases, and those undecided about or ineligible for emigration. By 1949, the JDC had closed all of its workshops amidst a general curtailment of voluntary and international agency activity in the Zone. The closing of the last camp, Foehrenwald, in 1953, marked the end of JDC activity in the Jewish DP camps of the U.S. Zone in Germany.
21.25 Linear Feet
51 Manuscript Boxes
This collection, which is a sub-group of RG 294 Displaced Persons Camps, consists of the records of Leo W. Schwarz, the Director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC/JDC) for the U.S. Occupation Zone in Germany during the years 1946-1947. The papers pertain to his work with the JDC in Germany and to the history of the Jewish displaced persons in Germany after World War II.
The overall arrangement of the papers reflects the organizational structure of the JDC’s U.S. Zone headquarters in Munich. At the time of their accession to the YIVO Archives, the papers were only partly in order, mostly arranged by topic. A number of folders originated in Mr. Schwarz’s JDC office and were left in their original arrangement. These folders are the core of the collection. Other materials were originally loose and unsorted and were formed into cohesive file units. These are usually denoted in the inventory as "folder consists of discrete pages," meaning that these pages were not originally found together in a folder. The folder titles in the container list were created based upon the folder contents but are not written on the folders themselves, which are labeled only with the folder number. The reel number given is the first microfilm reel and frame number for each folder. The collection is divided into 5 series, which have been further divided into subseries and subsubseries.
- Series I: JDC General Files, 1940-1953
- Subseries 1: Organization and Structure of the JDC, 1944-1953
- Subseries 2: JDC Reports, 1945-1950
- Subseries 3: Military Authorities and Relief Agencies, 1940-1950
- Subseries 4: General Reports and Correspondence, 1945-1952
- Series II: Displaced Persons Camps and Centers, 1945-1950
- Subseries 1: The Central Committee of Liberated Jews: Organization and Structure, 1945-1949
- Subseries 2: Central Committee Congresses, 1946-1948
- Subseries 3: Central Committee Minutes, 1945-1950
- Subseries 4: Camps and Centers: Reports and Correspondence, 1945-1949
- Subsubseries A: Files on JDC Districts, 1945-1949
- Subsubseries B: Files on Camps and Centers, 1945-1949
- Series III: JDC Departments, 1945-1954
- Subseries 1: Employment Board, 1946-1949
- Subseries 2: Religious Department, 1945-1949
- Subseries 3: Health Department, 1945-1953
- Subsubseries A: General, 1945-1949
- Subsubseries B: Gauting Sanatorium, 1946-1953
- Subseries 4: Welfare and Personal Service Department, 1945-1949
- Subseries 5: Emigration Department, 1945-1951
- Subseries 6: Education and Cultural Activities Department, 1945-1949
- Subseries 7: Legal Department, 1945-1954
- Subseries 8: Supply Department, 1945-1949
- Subseries 9: Public Relations Department, 1946-1949
- Subseries 10: Personnel and Finance Office, 1945-1948
- Series IV: British Zone, French Zone, Berlin District, 1945-1949
- Subseries 1: British Zone, 1945-1949
- Subseries 2: French Zone, 1946-1949
- Subseries 3: Berlin District, 1945-1949
- Series V: Memoirs and Testimonies on the Holocaust, 1942-1953
Leo W. Schwarz donated his papers to the YIVO Archives in 1959.
This collection is on 48 reels of microfilm (MKM 488).
There is no information about materials that are associated by provenance to the described materials that have been physically separated or removed.
Zosa Szajkowski compiled a preliminary inventory in 1959. The arrangement of the papers and the preparation of a finding aid were completed by Itzek Gottesman in 1986. Additional processing was completed by Rachel S. Harrison and Sarah Ponichtera in 2013. Described and encoded as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.
- Administrative reports
- American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
- Auerbach, Philipp, 1906-1952
- Community welfare councils
- Emigration and immigration
- Financial records
- Germany (West)
- Holocaust survivors
- Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
- International Refugee Organization
- International relief
- Jewish refugees
- Levinthal, Louis E. (Louis Edward), 1892-1976
- Lists (document genres)
- Manuscripts (documents)
- Maps (documents)
- Medical care
- Minutes (administrative records)
- Munich (Germany)
- News bulletins
- Official documents
- Refugee camps
- Schwarz, Leo W. (Leo Walder), 1906-1967
- Tsenṭral ḳomiṭeṭ fun di bafrayṭe Yidn in der Ameriḳaner zone
- United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
- United States. Army
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Jews -- Rescue
- YIVO Archives
- Guide to the Papers of Leo W. Schwarz (1906-1967) 1940-1954 RG 294.1
- Processed by Zosa Szajkowski and Itzek Gottesman. Additional processing by Rachel S. Harrison and Sarah Ponichtera in 2013. Described and encoded as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.