Records of the American Jewish Committee Paris Office (FAD-41) Files
Scope and Content Note
The American Jewish Committee Paris Office files contain correspondence, mostly of Shuster and Karlikow, with local representative-correspondents and New York headquarters; memoranda and reports on various aspects of social, political and cultural issues related to the Jewish communities of Europe and North Africa; press releases; publications and periodical clippings; and photographs. The materials date from 1938 to 1969, with the bulk dates 1946-1963. The majority of documents in the collection are in English, French and German, while some documents are in Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Swedish, Ukrainian and Yiddish.
Correspondence contains letters to and from such prominent personalities as Konrad Adenauer, Theodor Adorno, Marc Chagall, Sidney Hook, Max Horkheimer, Halpern Leivick, Raphael Lemkin, Leon Poliakov, Walter Reuther, Eleanor Roosevelt, Boris Souvarine, Marie Syrkin, and Simon Wiesenthal.
Folder 523, which contains budget materials, also has comprehensive information on the structure, objectives, programs and projects of the Paris Office of 1953-1955. Folders 77 and 716-717 contain materials of the London Conference of Jewish Organizations, which established the basic principles of worldwide coordination of activities between Jewish organizations, to which AJC and its Paris Office adhered.
The American Jewish Commitee Paris Office Files are part of a larger set of AJC records held by the YIVO Archives. See Related Material for more information.
- Creation: 1938-1969
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1946-1963
Language of Materials
The bulk of this collection is in English, French, and German.
Permission to use the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archivist by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archives. For more information, contact:
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) was founded in New York in 1906 to defend Jewish civil and religious rights throughout the world. Among the original founders of the AJC were Louis Marshall, Judge Mayer Sulzberger, Jacob Schiff , and Cyrus Adler. At the outset, the AJC consisted of a select group who interceded on behalf of Jews privately and behind-the-scenes, in the traditional style of shtadlanut personal diplomacy. Early AJC efforts included lobbying for a liberal American immigration policy and against the literacy test requirement for immigrants. It campaigned against violations of rights of Jews in Tsarist Russia and worked to secure minority rights for Jews in post-WWI Europe.
In the 1930s the AJC began to widen its membership, and by the 1940s its structure and approach had undergone a fundamental change. The private diplomacy policies gave way to more broad and outspoken public relations and educational programs, including anti-German boycott campaigns and scholarly studies, surveys, and publications on anti-Semitism, Nazi influences in the US, civil and religious rights, and inter-religious and intercultural relations.
During the rise of Nazism and Fascism and the years of World War Two, the AJC intervened before the US and other Allied governments on behalf of the persecuted Jews of Europe. It campaigned against domestic indifference and pro-Nazi sympathies, and encouraged neutral states‘ representatives to allow Jewish immigration and to create safe heavens for Jewish refugees.
After the war, the Committee continued its lobbying activities, public relations and educational programs, monitoring anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry, and promoting intergroup cooperation, cultural diversity, and intercultural education. The AJC supported legislation addressing racial and religious discrimination in employment, education, and housing. The Committee campaigned on behalf of Soviet Jews, as well as for Jewish groups in Syria, Iran and Ethiopia. The AJC also drew attention to the plight of persecuted ethnic and religious groups throughout the world.
The AJC founded the monthly magazine Commentary in 1945 and has co-sponsored the annual publication of the American Jewish Year Book since 1908.
The AJC national headquarters are in New York and it has regional offices throughout the United States, an Israeli office in Jerusalem, and a number of other international offices.
The Paris Office, officially known as the European Office of the American Jewish Committee, was established in 1947 as a regional office to provide permanent oversight of the network of AJC “correspondents” throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The original tasks of the Office were to collect information, study conditions and report on the situation of Jews and Jewish communities, anti-Semitism, Nazi war criminals, neo-Nazism, treatment of Jews by Communist regimes and other matters of AJC concern. Subsequently the Paris Office served as the central representative of the AJC in the Eastern Hemisphere. Among its functions were to propose ways to improve the state and conditions of Jewish populations in Europe and North Africa, to inform central AJC bodies and other AJC offices on the developments in its region, to intervene with governments and other authorities on behalf of Jews, and to further the concepts of democracy, civil and human rights. The Paris Office also reported to the headquarters in New York on European reactions to American developments with regard to religious and racial discrimination.
Over the years the AJC Paris Office was involved in major programs and projects of the AJC that included, among others, relief for Jewish refugees and DPs, aid for Jewish emigration from Muslim lands, monitoring of resurgence of pro-Nazi movements in Europe and of anti-Semitic tendencies and developments in the Soviet bloc countries, work with German and Austrian authorities on denazification and strengthening democratic teachings and institutions, promotion of Jewish-Christian dialogue, and helping to fashion the post-war international legislation on genocide and human rights through cooperation with various UN bodies.
The AJC Paris Office published a periodical in French called Evidences, devoted to Jewish-related issues in the European and Middle Eastern regions, developing Christian-Jewish understanding, and demonstrating the harmful impact of racial and religious discrimination.
The Office personnel supervised a network of local country representatives-correspondents and included a director, a public relations assistant, two secretaries and an administrative clerk.
The head of the Paris Office during the period covered by the collection was Zachariah Shuster (1903-1986), a native of Poland who came in 1927 to the US and started to work for the AJC during World War Two. In 1948 he became the head of the Paris Office, directing programs to rebuild and secure Jewish communities in Europe and North Africa, addressing issues of restitution of Jewish property and indemnification of Jewish victims of Nazism, monitoring anti-Jewish activities, and providing recommendations for the AJC policies in the region. Shuster was directly involved in Jewish-Catholic dialogue and represented the AJC at the Second Vatican Council, convened by Pope John XXIII in 1962. Zachariah Shuster remained the committee's chief representative in Europe until 1974, after which he became a consultant. He returned to the United States in 1981 and continued to advise the committee on European affairs and relations with the Vatican and the World Council of Churches.
Another prominent AJC representative at the Paris Office was Abraham Karlikow (1920-2013), a legal counsel, public relations assistant and later director of the Paris Office, who was involved in relief work for Jewish refugees and displaced persons from the 1940s through the 1970s, and facilitated Jewish restitution and indemnification. In 1979 he moved back to New York to serve as Director of the AJC Foreign Affairs Department. Karlikow was an AJC representative to the International League for Human Rights and the United Nations Economic and Social Council. After retirement he worked as a public school teacher in Bronx.
The Paris Office has played an important role in shaping AJC and American policies related to Jewish relief and educational work in Europe and North Africa, strengthening Jewish communal organizations there, attracting attention to the resurgence of pro-Nazi sentiments in Western and Central Europe and to anti-Semitic campaigns in the Soviet bloc countries.
34 Linear Feet (83 boxes, 743 folders)
The collection contains the records of the Paris Office of the American Jewish Committee, established in 1947 to study conditions of Jewish refugees and Jewish communities in Europe and North Africa. The Paris Office was involved in major programs and projects of the AJC to study the needs of and aid to the Jews of Europe and the Middle East. The materials include correspondence, memoranda, reports, clippings, photographs and published materials.
The Paris Office records are subdivided into three series. Each series includes correspondence, memoranda, reports, press releases, publications, and clippings. The largest series is the Geographic Files, which comprises the bulk of the collection, 23 feet of documents. Folders are arranged in alphabetical and chronological order.
Other Finding Aids
An in-house finding aid, created in 1977, is available upon request in the Reading Room.
The American Jewish Committee Paris Office Files were sent by AJC to YIVO in July 1983. The materials were originally packed in 29 boxes and have been rehoused in 83 Hollinger boxes comprising 34 linear feet.
The collection was originally processed in 1980s, and additional processing was done in 2013. Originally the folders in the collection were not numbered and in 2013 the folders were consecutively numbered. In the 1980s many boxes were overstuffed with folders, and due to shelf space concerns, new rehousing on the box level was deemed inadvisable in 2013.
- Karlikow, Abraham S. (Person)
- Shuster, Zachariah, 1903-1986 (Person)
- Slawson, John, 1896-1989 (Person)
- Wiesenthal, Simon (Person)
- Wulf, Josef (Person)
- Alliance israélite universelle (Organization)
- American Jewish Committee (Organization)
- American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (Organization)
- Anglo-Jewish Association (Organization)
- Board of Deputies of British Jews (Organization)
- United Nations (Organization)
- Guide to the Records of the American Jewish Committee Paris Office (FAD-41) Files 1938-1969 (bulk 1946-1963) RG 347.7.41
- Processed by Helen Ritter, Archivist, American Jewish Committee and YIVO Archivists. Additional processing by Vital Zajka
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.