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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.

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
Email: archives@yivo.cjh.org
URL: http://www.yivo.org

©2013 YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. All rights reserved.

Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Rachel S. Harrison in May 2013. EAD finding aid customized in Archon in 2014. Description is in English.

Collection Overview

Title: Guide to the Papers of Leo W. Schwarz (1906-1967) 1940-1954 RG 294.1

ID: RG 294.1 FA

Extent: 51.0 Boxes

Arrangement: Zosa Szajkowski organized the collection and 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.  In 2013 Rachel S. Harrison and Sarah Ponichtera encoded the finding aid under a grant from the Claims Conference to the Center for Jewish History. 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.

Languages: English, German, Hebrew, Yiddish


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.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

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.

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.

Subject/Index Terms

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: Permission to use the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archivist.

Use Restrictions:

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

email: archives@yivo.cjh.org

Acquisition Method: Leo W. Schwarz donated his papers to the YIVO Archives in 1959.

Separated Materials: There is no information about materials that are associated by provenance to the described materials that have been physically separated or removed.

Original/Copies Note:

Microfilm Information: 

This collection is on 48 reels of microfilm (MKM 488).

Reel 1: (Folders 1 -13) |  Reel 2: (Folders 14 - 22) | Reel 3:  (Folders 23 - 27)

Reel 4: (Folders 28- 30)| Reel 5: (Folders 31-34) | Reel 6: (Folders 35-42) |

Reel 7 (Folders 43-47) | Reel 8: (Folders 44-53) | Reel 9: ( Folders 54-64) |

Reel 10 (Folders 65-84) | Reel 11: (Folders 85-92) | Reel 12: (Folders 93-103)

Reel 13 (Folders 104-116) | Reel 14 (Folders 117-130) | Reel 15 (Folders 131-142) |

Reel 16 (Folders 143-163) | Reel 17 (Folders 164-177) | Reel 18 (Folders 178-192) |

Reel 19 (Folders 193- 216) | Reel 20 (Folders 217-223) | Reel 21 (Folders 224-237) |

Reel 22 (Folders 238-256) | Reel 23 (Folders 257-274) | Reel 24 (Folders 275-296)

Reel 25 (Folders 297-310) | Reel 26 ( Folders 311-317) | Reel 27 (Folders 318-329)

Reel 28 (Folders 330-337) | Reel 29 (Folders 338-342) | Reel 30 (Folders 343-351)

Reel 31 (Folders 352-371) | Reel 32 (Folders 372-380) | Reel 33 (Folders 381-401)

Reel 34 (Folders 402-415)  Reel 35 (Folders 416-424) | Reel 36 (Folders 425-435)

Reel 37 (Folders 436-451) | Reel 38 (Folders 452-469) | Reel 39 (Folders 471-480)

Reel 40 (Folders 481-487) | Reel 41 (Folders 488-501) | Reel 42 (Folders 502-505)

Reel 43 (Folders 506-508) | Reel 44 (Folders 509-513) | Reel 45 (Folders 514-523)

Reel 46 (Folders 524-536) | Reel 47 (Folders (537-541) | Reel 48 (Folders 542-552)


Related Materials: This collection is a sub-group of RG 294, which consists of materials relating to Displaced Persons camps and centers in Germany, Italy and Austria, including a separate sub-group of photographs. In addition, there is some of Leo Schwarz’s correspondence in the Abraham Klausner Papers in the AJHS Archives, P-879. In addition, YIVO, AJHS and LBI libraries and archives have a wealth of materials about World War II, Displaced Persons camps and several other JDC collections, as well as several of Schwarz’s books. These include Mutations of Jewish Values in Contemporary American Fiction , The Jewish Caravan: Great Stories of Twenty-Five Centuries , Memoirs of My People Through a Thousand Years , Refugees in Germany Today , A Golden Treasury of Jewish Literature , and The Redeemers, a Saga of the Years 1945-1952 , among others.

Preferred Citation: Published citations should take the following form:Identification of item, date (if known); Papers of Leo W. Schwarz; RG 294.1; box number; folder number; YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

Series 1: Series I: JDC General Files, 1940-1953,
Series 2: Series II: Displaced Persons Camps and Centers, 1945-1950,
Series 3: Series III: JDC Departments, 1945-1954,
Series 4: Series IV: British Zone, French Zone, Berlin District, 1945-1949,
Series 5: Series V: Memoirs and Testimonies on the Holocaust, 1942-1953,

Series IV: British Zone, French Zone, Berlin District
Series IV relates to the Jewish DPs in the British and French Zones of Germany and in Berlin, including reports on conditions, relief activities, demographics, and correspondence of various JDC regional bureaus. The JDC maintained separate offices in the British and French Zones, while the Berlin office was subordinate to the U.S. Zone headquarters.
Folders: 39
Subseries 1: British Zone
These materials consist of statistical and other reports, lists, minutes, and correspondence about activities and conditions in the British Zone. Camps and centers represented include Hamburg, Hannover, Cologne, Dortmund, Lubeck, Kiel, Dusseldorf, and Bergen-Belsen.
Folders: 21
Folder 493: Statistical reports of the JDC about the Jewish population in the British Zone of Germany
October 1945-March 1948
Folder 494: Report of communities
- Includes Hamburg, Hannover, Cologne, Dortmund, Lubeck, Kiel, Dusseldorf
Folder 495: Reports, lists and other materials of Bergen-Belsen
Folder 496: Reports of Harry Witeles about the conditions in the British Zone of Germany
March 1946
- Includes minutes of the investigating commission
Folder 497: JDC correspondence and reports
December 1945-September 1947

- Includes general report by Harry Witeles, April 2, 1946

- D.B. Wadlinger’s report of May 2, 1946

- Shlomo Michael Gelbart’s report about Bergen-Belsen, June 28, 1946

- JDC reports, December 8, 1945-September 20, 1946 and January 1-June 30, 1947

Folder 498: Correspondence of the recreation consultant of JDC about the British Zone
Folder 499: Materials of the Association of Jewish Students in the British Zone of Germany
Folder 500: Various materials of the British Zone of Germany

- Includes raid in Bergen-Belsen on February 17, 1948

- Performance by the theater studio of Bergen-Belsen in Belgium, 1947

- Article in a British medical journal about Bergen-Belsen, June 9, 1945

- Children’s emigration to England

- Reports about the Hamburg community, September 18, 1945 and January 9, 1946

- Bergen-Belsen statistics, June 1945

- List of camps, communities and centers in the British Zone, September 1949

- Report of the British Zone, June 28, 1946

Folder 501: Correspondence of the JDC directors
June-July 15, 1947
Folder 502: Correspondence of the JDC directors
July 16-August 1947
Folder 503: Correspondence of the JDC directors
September-October 1947
Folder 504: Correspondence of the JDC directors
November-December 1947
Folder 505: Correspondence of the JDC directors
January-February 1948
Folder 506: Correspondence of the JDC directors
March-April 1948
Folder 507: Correspondence of the JDC directors
May-June 1948
Folder 508: Correspondence of the JDC directors
July-August 1948
Folder 509: Correspondence of the JDC directors
September-October 1948
Folder 510: Correspondence of the JDC directors
November-December 1948
Folder 511: Monthly Statistical Report on Refugees in the British Zone of Germany
January 15, 1947-May 17, 1949

- Published by the IRO Office of Statistics and Operational Records

- Monthly DP Refugee Situation Report and other statistical reports

Folder 512: Minutes of the sessions of Voluntary Societies Advisory
February 19, 1946-November 9, 1948

- Held in Lemgo, British Zone of Germany

- Samuel Dallob

Folder 513: Monthly reports on the work of voluntary agencies in the British Zone
December 1946-June 1949
- Minutes and reports of several organizations, among them the "JOINT Relief Unit"
Subseries 2: French Zone
These folders contain statistics, reports and correspondence concerning questions of rationing, antisemitic incidents, legal questions, and conditions in the French Zone.
Folders: 2
Folder 514: Reports and correspondence of the French Zone

- Includes statistics of women and children according to origin and age, January 1946

- Reports and statistics of the French Zone, November 19, 1946, April 28, 1947, September 1949

- Categories of rations

- Incidents in Gerlos and Gnadenwald, May 1947

- Law about indemnification in the French Zone, 1949

Folder 515: JDC report about the conditions of Jews in the French Zone of Germany
April 28, 1948
Subseries 3: Berlin District
This is a subseries of reports by JDC staff in Berlin and elsewhere, materials relating to the Berlin Jewish community, emigration reports, meeting minutes, correspondence, including correspondence between the JDC in Berlin and the JDC in the U.S. Zone, in Munich, Paris, and New York, and other materials related to the conditions of Jewish DPs in Berlin.
Folders: 16
Folder 516: Reports and correspondence of Berlin

- Includes report of the Berlin Jewish community to the JDC, July 23, 1945

- Report by Dr. Kurt Redlauer, director of Evangelical relief bureau, about Jews in Berlin, September 17, 1945

- Reports of Philip Skarnek, JDC director in Berlin and by other JDC representatives

- Interview and correspondence with U.S. Brigadier General S.R. Mikelson of the DP section, December 1945

- Internal conflicts in the Berlin Jewish community, September 21, 1948

Folder 517: Reports and correspondence of Berlin
November 20, 1945-February 12, 1946
Folder 518: Reports and correspondence of Berlin
March-July 1946
Folder 519: Reports and correspondence of Berlin
January-March 1947
Folder 520: Reports and correspondence of Berlin
April-June 1947
Folder 521: Reports and correspondence of Berlin
September-December 1947
Folder 522: Reports and correspondence of Berlin
March-May 1948
Folder 523: Reports and correspondence of Berlin
Folder 524: Quarterly reports of the JDC in Berlin
January-March 1947
Folder 525: Quarterly reports of the JDC in Berlin
April-June 1947
Folder 526: Reports on emigration
November 1946-August 1947
Folder 527: Various reports
Folder 528: Memoranda, correspondence between the Central Committee of Survivors in Berlin and the JDC representative
- Minutes of joint consultations
Folder 529: Correspondence of JDC in the U.S. Zone with JDC in Berlin about student matters
Folder 530: Correspondence between JDC offices in Berlin, Munich, Paris and New York
- About public relations
Folder 531: Correspondence of JDC in Berlin with JDC Paris and New York and with Jewish organizations in London

- About a tracing center

- 58 pp.

Browse by Series:

Series 1: Series I: JDC General Files, 1940-1953,
Series 2: Series II: Displaced Persons Camps and Centers, 1945-1950,
Series 3: Series III: JDC Departments, 1945-1954,
Series 4: Series IV: British Zone, French Zone, Berlin District, 1945-1949,
Series 5: Series V: Memoirs and Testimonies on the Holocaust, 1942-1953,
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