Tag Archives: World War II

Online Resource: JDC Archives online

The Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has been helping Jews around the world since its inception at the onset of World War I in 1914.  Its archives have long been a resource for scholars researching Jewish immigration, anti-semitism, Jewish aid, geneology, and many other topics.

Now, for the first time, the JDC Archives from 1914-1932 are available online here.

According to the website, "The vast digital collection contains searchable text collections from 1914-1932, a detailed interactive timeline, historically-themed exhibitions, over 45,000 photographs, findings aids, educational resources, relevant archives news and more. The JDC Archives houses one of the most significant collections in the world for the study of modern Jewish history and attests to JDC's relief, rescue and rehabilitation activities from its inception in 1914 to the present."

The archive includes a text-searchable document database, photographs from over 70 countries, and a timeline of Jewish (and JDC) history by decade.

Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees: The West’s Response to Jewish Emigration

As part of a purchase of a major database collection, Columbia now has access to "Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees: The West’s Response to Jewish Emigration."

According to the site’s description:

The Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees (IGCR) was organized in London in August 1938 as a result of the Evian Conference of July 1938. The Evian Conference was called by President Franklin Roosevelt outside the formal framework of the League of Nations "for the primary purpose of facilitating involuntary emigration from Germany (including Austria)" of "persons who have not already left their country of origin (Germany, including Austria), but who must emigrate on account of their political opinions, religious beliefs or racial origin, and persons who have already left their country of origin and who have not yet established themselves permanently elsewhere."

For the first time, there was discussion on extending protection to would-be refugees inside the country of potential departure, particularly central Europe. The IGCR, however, received little authority and almost no funds or support from its member nations for resettlement of refugees from Europe in countries allowing permanent immigration, and it had little success in opening countries to refugees.

The first director of the IGCR was George Rublee, an American lawyer, who opened negotiations with Hjalmar Schacht, the President of the German Central Bank in December 1938. After Schacht was removed from his post, the negotiations went on with Helmut Wohltat of the Ministry of Economy. As a result of the negotiations they called for the creation of a fund, to be guaranteed by the Jewish property in Germany, and a Coordinating Foundation in order to finance the emigration of 400,000 Jews from Germany. The attempts of the IGCR to find havens for German Jews in different countries largely failed.

At the Anglo-American conference at Bermuda in April 1943, recommendations were made to the Committee and adopted in August 1943 for an extension of its mandate and structure in order to take into account not only immediately urgent situations but also the longer-term problems of the postwar period. After the establishment of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration the Committee’s responsibilities were limited to refugees in areas in which that Administration was not active and to refugees who for one reason or another did not come within the jurisdiction of the Administration, such as stateless refugees.

In July 1944, 37 governments participated in the work of the Committee. Of these, representatives of nine countries, including the United States, served on its Executive Committee. The primary responsibility for determining the policy of the United States with regard to the Committee was that of the Department of State. It ceased to exist in 1947, and its functions and records were transferred to the International Refugee Organization of the United Nations.

This database, part of the Archives Unbound collection, is critical for understanding the governmental response to the "Jewish problem" as Jews (and others) fled Nazi-occupied Europe before and during the war.

The database can be accessed by clicking on the link above, and then clicking "Browse Collections" and clicking on the "Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees: The West’s Response to Jewish Emigration" link.  We are working on making a direct link to the Jewish Immigration site, and I will post an update when the direct link is available.

Update: There is now a direct link to the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, accessible here: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?clio8715812