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D

Yehuda Bauer: My Brother's Keeper

A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1929-1939


[Introduction: The First Fifteen Years 1914-1929 - Holocaust preparations in Europe and resistance without solution of the situation]

The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia 1974

Transcription with subtitles by Michael Palomino (2007)

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Introduction. The First Fifteen Years [1914-1929]

(End note 1:
Most  of this introductory chapter is based on an unpublished manuscript by Herman Bernstein, "The History of American Jewish Relief", written in 1928, now in the JDC Library. Oscar Handlin: A Continuing Task (New York, 1964) and Herbert Agar: The Saving Remnant (New York, 1960), have also been used).

[Palestine 1914: Persecution of the Jews - ask for help by Henry Morgenthau for 50,000 $ at Jacob H. Schiff]

In August 1914 a cable arrived in the office of Jacob H. Schiff, head of the banking house of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. It had been sent by the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, Sr., and it asked that $ 50,000 be sent to the Jews of Palestine, who were threatened with persecution and hunger as a result of the hostile attitude of the Turkish rulers of the country. The effect of World War I on the Jews of Europe and the Middle East was coming home to American Jewry.

[American Jewish Committee AJC 1906 - Jacob H. Schiff organized the 50,000 $ for Palestine]

Schiff brought the matter to the attention of his friends at the American Jewish Committee (AJC), founded in 1906 and dedicated not only to the protection of Jewish civil and religious rights all over the world, but also to an effort "to alleviate the consequences of persecution and to afford relief from calamities affecting Jews, wherever they occur." On August 31 the money was collected, with Schiff and the Zionist Provisional Committee (in effect, Nathan Straus) giving $ 12,500 each, and AJC voting the remaining $ 25,000.

[Jewry in the "USA": Spanish, Portuguese, German and East European Jews]

American Jewry was more deeply divided in 1914 than it was to be in the coming two generations. Apart from the old division between the descendants of the Spanish and Portuguese (Sephardic) Jews and their German Jewish (Ashkenazic) brethren, there now existed the deep cleavage between German Jewry - from the (p. 3)

middle and upper class, liberal, speedily adapting itself to the American way of life - and the masses of East European Jews who had been arriving in the New World since 1882. The latter were largely proletarian or lower middle class, and their spiritual outlook tended to be either Jewish Orthodox or, at the other extreme, socialist and antireligious. There was very little in common between those different kinds of Jews, except for the uncertain and ill-defined feeling that their common origin and cultural background should mean more to them than it actually did.

[German Jewish leadership in the "USA"]

The German Jewish leadership of American Jewry was a highly sophisticated, intellectual group of men and women. The social elite at the top was made up of bankers, merchants, judges, lawyers, and doctors; they were well-bred, well-read, patrons of the arts and of sports, supporters and furtherers of a well-ordered democracy. Their philanthropy was sincere and well-meant. Most of them - there were some notable exceptions - kept some of the religious observances of their ancestors, or rather those of them that had not been discarded by the Jewish Reform movement. However, it appeared that their religion meant less and less to them as time went on.

[German Jews in "USA" help European Jews with funds for assimilation]

In a sense their social obligation to their brethren (whom they awkwardly called "coreligionists", to emphasize the fact that there was really nothing in common between them except religion, or vestiges of it) was a kind of inherited trait. It had been transmitted to them from the customs and usages of their ancestors in the ghettos of Germany [in 14th to 18th century], where, a scant three generations before Morgenthau sent off his telegram to Schiff, life had produced the same kind of Jew as Eastern Europe did. In their efforts to "assimilate", that is, to become citizens of the world in which they lived, they often rationalized their aid to Jews as part of their concern for humanity as a whole. The common past put a moral obligation on them to help those Jews in backward Europe to reach the happy stage of equality - and therefore prosperity - that they themselves had attained. That, it was hoped, would be the end of the Jewish problem for Europe's Jews; it would also be the end of their own (p.4)

problem qua Jews, and it would no longer bother them. But in the meantime the obligation existed, and it had to be met honestly and openly.

[German Jews in "USA" supporting more general human projects than the Jews in Europe]

The concern of German Jews in America for humanity in general and for Jews in particular was no pretense; on the contrary, their whole liberal background and education had developed in them a strong feeling of responsibility toward the poor and the underprivileged. Often the proportion of their money spent for general nonsectarian philanthropy exceeded the amounts reserved for their "coreligionists"; but even this was part of their strong, typically Jewish sense of a social and moral imperative, which appears to have set them apart as a group from other rich men in America. Their emphasis on nonsectarianism made their Jewishness stand out. Not that they hid it; they were aware of it, and most of them saw it distinctly as a matter of honor not to run away from it.

[Leader Louis Marshall until 1929 - AJC is splitted into fractions: Zionists and anti-Zionists]

The American Jewish Committee [AJC] was the organized expression of the German Jewish aristocracy of spirit, culture, and money. Its head was the undisputed leader of American Jewry until his death in 1929, Louis Marshall - lawyer, statesman, and thinker. The AJC that he led was by no means homogeneous in its political outlook.

Apart from differences emanating from the American political scene, there were also divisions into Zionists and anti-Zionists. Judges Louis D. Brandeis and Julian W. Mack were to become the mainstays of American Zionism during the war. Others, especially Julius Rosenwald, the head of Sears Roebuck [a chain of stores for housewares], followed German Jewish liberal tradition in seeing Judaism as a religious creed only, and rejecting all the implications of Jewish national identity. The majority of AJC tended to follow Marshall in his support of building up Palestine, whose great spiritual importance in Jewish history they admitted - as a place of refuge, not necessarily the place of refuge, for those Jews who wanted or were forced to go there.

[Before 1914: AJC-leaders hope that nationalism will disappear with liberalism]

At the same time, they did everything they could to help Jews become nationals and equals in the countries of their residence, so that they would not have to look for places of refuge (p.5)

at all. Sooner or later, it was hoped, the dangerous notion of nationalism would disappear altogether.

[Supplement: Herzl nationalism and the Arabs
The Jewish leaders have no idea of the Arab existence, and up to then the Arabs had no weapons and racist Herzl says in his book "The Jewish State" of 1896 they could be driven away like the natives in the "USA", and perhaps there is gold to be exploited like in South Africa. But since 1915 the Arabs get weapons by World War I. and this is never considered by Jewish Zionist policy. So, the "Zionist movement" is a pure racist and capitalist movement].

[1914-1918: First World War lets come up new nationalism - 10 of 15 mio. Jews affected by war]

These beliefs were held very sincerely, and yet this was the time - the summer of 1914 - when the whole structure of nineteenth-century liberalism collapsed. The collapse was accompanied by a disaster that struck the Jewish people in the eastern and southeastern parts of Europe and the Middle East. Three empires and a kingdom - Russia, Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Romania [England?] - were involved in a deadly conflict, and out of the more than fifteen million Jews of the world, ten million lived in these countries.

[1914-1918: Jewish refugees in Eastern Europe between the fronts]

Within a very short time there were five hundred thousand Jewish refugees in the Russian interior, driven there by the czarist armies. Four hundred thousand more fled before the advancing Russians into the interior of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Then German armies overran large areas of formerly Russian Poland. Some eight hundred townships and villages where Jews lived were hit and severely damaged, and about eighty thousand Jewish houses were destroyed.

(End note 2: Bernstein: History of American Jewish Relief, p.161)

Yet, significantly, the action of American Jewry was triggered by the alarming news that reached the U.S. regarding the fate of the eighty-five thousand Jews of Palestine.

[4  October 1914: Orthodox Jews found the Central Committee to help suffering Jews]

The first to act were the Orthodox Jews of overwhelmingly East European origin. On October 4, 1914, they founded the Central Committee for the Relief of Jews Suffering through the War. The main officers of the committee were Leon Kamaiky, Harry Fischel, Harry Lucas, and Morris Engelman. But Orthodox Jewry could hardly carry the burden by itself.

[25 October 1914: American Jewish Committee (AJC) founds the American Jewish Relief Committee (AJRC)]

The leadership of the American Jewish Committee therefore convened a meeting of forty organizations which took place in New York on October 25, 1914. There a committee of five was elected: Oscar S. Straus, Louis D. Brandeis, Julian W. Mack, Harry Fischel (of the Central Committee), and Meyer London (of the socialists). This committee in turn asked one hundred prominent Jews from all walks of life to select officers for a new committee: the American Jewish Relief Committee (AJRC). Louis Marshall was chairman, Felix M. Warburg, treasurer, and Cyrus L. Sulzberger, secretary. (p.6)

[27 November 1914: Body to distribute the funds: Foundation of the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)]

Contrary to expectations, however, the Orthodox group decided in the end not to join AJRC, and so on November 27, 1914, another body was established to distribute the funds collected separately by the two committees. At the suggestion of the new committee's comptroller, Harriet B. Lowenstein, Felix M. Warburg's secretary, it was called the Joint Distribution Committee.

[August 1915: The socialists found the People's Relief Committee - the "Joint" gets common]

In August 1915 the socialists set up a third cooperating body, the People's Relief Committee, led by Meyer London, Sholem Asch, and others.

More than half a century later, although the three original components are long since defunct, the organization's official name still remains the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; a tradition had been established and no one would think of changing the awkward name. "The Joint" had become a household word for many millions of Jews.

[Demands of the Jewish war victims 1914-1918 - 1.5 mio. $ on steamer "Vulcan" for Palestine - steamer "Des Moines" for Palestine]

The demands on the young organization during the war years of 1914-18 were enormous. Local and state committees were organized in the U.S. and speakers such as Judah L. Magnes, Reform rabbi, pacifist, enfant terrible, and - later - president of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, one of the great orators of his time, were sent to raise funds. By the end of 1915 some $ 1.5 million had been raised. This money was sent to Palestine aboard the coal steamer U.S.S. Vulcan in March 1915, along with nine hundred tons of food and medicines (55 percent of which went to the starving Jews, the rest being destributed on a nonsectarian basis under the supervision of the American consul).

After long delays a second mercy ship, the U.S.S. Des Moines, reached Palestine in September 1916.

[Help for Austrian Jews in Russia]

The Jewish aid society in Russia, EKOPO, received money from JDC to look after the refugees from the war areas, especially the ones who came from enemy (that is, Austrian) territory, who were forbidden by czarist government to receive help from Russian Jewish institutions.

[Help of the German Jewish aid society for Jews in German occupied Poland]

As for German-occupied Poland, the German Jewish aid society - Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden - established a special branch to aid the stricken Jews in that area. They served as JDC's agents (p.7)

there until America's entry into the war in 1917.

[JDC-inspections to control the distributions]

JDC also sent Magnes and Dr. Alexander Dushkin to Poland to check allegations about the unjust distribution of funds (the two commissioners cleared the Hilfsverein committee). Both the accusation and the investigating commission were the first in a long line of similar events during the coming decades.

[President Wilson declares the Jewish Sufferers Relief Day for 27th January 1916]

In the meantime, at the urging of friends of the Jewish people in the United States Senate, President Wilson set aside January 27, 1916, as Jewish Sufferers Relief Day. On that day about $ 1 million was collected.

[Collection of the JDC 1914-1918: Over 16.5 mio. $ - fund-raising by Jacob Billikopf]

By the end of 1918 JDC had managed to collect over $ 16.5 million. This was done by perfecting fund-raising techniques, largely through the work of Jacob Billikopf, of the Kansas City Federation of Jewish Charities. The money was very carefully distributed in the areas of greatest suffering. As the war proceeded, large sums had to be sent to Austria and, after 1917, to those parts of Romania that could be reached.

[Money channeling after America's entry into the war 1917-1918 by neutral Holland - Boris D. Bogen, Max Senior]

After America's entry into the war the major problem was how to transfer money to areas under enemy control. From the start JDC insisted on full legality and cooperation with the State Department. Every step it took "had been taken only after consultation with and the approval of officials of the government, especially of the State Department."

(End note 3: Ibid. [Bernstein: History of American Jewish Relief], p.178)

With government approval a committee was set up in neutral Holland by the head of a Dutch bank; JDC sent Boris D. Bogen and Max Senior from America to represent it on the committee. This group then transferred the money received from the United States to Dutch diplomatic representatives in the stricken areas, who distributed it according to guidelines received from New York via Holland. Close to $ 2 million was thus channeled into German-occupied territory between the spring of 1917 and March 1918.

[Since 1918: New national states and new nationalism makes Jews a propaganda victim every time]

Despite all its efforts, especially in Russia, JDC was confronted with tremendous suffering when the war ended. Probably over a million Jews in Poland alone were homeless and were, quite literally, starving. Moreover, the creation of new nation-states - Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, (p.8)

Hungary, and Austria - and the Bolshevik Revolution caused further dislocation and local wars. The Jewish minorities, not knowing with whom to side and occupying an unenviable middle-class position in this postwar struggle of nations and revolutionary masses, became the butt of every slander and persecution.

[Pogroms in Galicia and Poland - civil war in Ukraine - epidemics]

Bloody pogroms instigated by Poles occurred in eastern Galicia and northeastern Poland. Even worse was the situation in the Ukraine, where Bolsheviks and their anti-Semitic White Russian opponents were struggling for control. Probably more than two hundred thousand Jews were killed or died in the 1918-21 epidemics in eastern Poland and the Ukraine; seventy-five thousand more were wounded.

[1920-21: Polish-Soviet war with Jewish victims]

Suffering was especially grim during the futile Polish-Soviet war of 1920-21, fought over areas with large Jewish populations.

[1919-1921 Eastern Europe: Jewish orphans - tuberculosis - abandoned communities - desperate parents leave their children]

The results were terrible. In Poland the total number of orphans after the war was estimated at seventy-five thousand. In the Ukraine it was said to be two hundred thousand. Sixty percent of the surviving children in Galicia alone suffered from tuberculosis. In the Ukraine five hundred Jewish communities had been abandoned, and about half a million Jews were economically ruined. With the suicide rate growing alarmingly and parents driven to desperation at the sight of starving children, some children were abandoned on the doorsteps of the relatively prosperous.

(End note 4: In:
-- Jacob Lestschinsky: Crisis Catastrophe and Survival (London, 1946)
-- Mark Wischnitzer: Die Juden in der Welt (Berlin 1935), p.225)

[The First Holocaust 1914-1921 has been forgotten after 1945]

The destruction of European Jewry during World War II has obliterated the memory of that first holocaust of the twentieth century in the wake of the first world conflict. Yet in pre-Auschwitz terms the experience was bad enough.

[1915-1921: Help actions by the JDC - American Relief Administration - Herbert Hoover - Boris D. Bogen]

Humanitarian groups such as JDC tried to respond in a suitable manner. After some misunderstandings had been cleared up, JDC joined in the efforts of the $ 100 million effort by the American Relief Administration (ARA), under Herbert Hoover, set up by Congress to help the people of Europe. JDC contributed $ 3.3 million, and in return JDC workers such as Boris D. Bogen were allowed to undertake aid missions to Jews in Eastern Europe as officials of ARA.

[1915-1921: Actions of the Joint in Eastern Europe: Kitchens - hospitals - food convoys - offices - schools]

Financed by a tremendous fund-raising effort that yielded a total (p.9)

of $ 33.4 million for 1919-21, JDC established soup kitchens on a large scale, reconstructed and reequipped hospitals, established orphanages, and sent food in convoys of trucks to hundreds of towns and villages in Poland. It set up a tracing bureau to reunite families scattered by war and pestilence; it helped reestablish schools and institutions of higher learning, religious and secular.

[1919: U.S.S. food steamer "Westwar Ho" in Poland - food distribution to Jews and Poles]

In 1919 the U.S.S. [steamer] Westward Ho arrived in Poland with food; at the insistence of the Poles, the food was divided and handed out separately to Jewish and Polish recipients. Much of the money was spent on nonsectarian missions to the Polish countryside, because JDC was afraid of arousing anti-Semitism if it supplied only Jews (despite the fact that ARA did a great deal to save masses of Poles from the aftereffects of the hostilities).

[June 1919: Joint gets recognition as a social agency in Poland]

In June 1919 the U.S. ambassador in Poland arranged for official Polish recognition of JDC as a social agency operating in that country.

[End of 1919: Joint nominates Dr. Julius Goldman for European director - Goldman principles for acting]

After the first two years of what was essentially emergency relief, the time came to take stock of the situation and decide on future policies. JDC had nominated Dr. Julius Goldman as its first European director at the end of 1919. Goldman tried to put some order into the operations and set down guiding principles for work in the various countries.

[1919-1920: Bogen organizes social workers in the "USA" for Poland and Russia]

Bogen, responsible for Poland and Russia, asked for and got the New York office's agreement to recruit social workers in America to help in Europe.

[1920-1921: Failure of Bogen: Foundation of local Joint committees in Poland not possible - collection of 20,000 $ in Poland]

In February 1920 Bogen arrived in Poland with 126 members of the first JDC Overseas Unit. Bogen also tried to bridge the deep ideological differences within East European Jewry and demanded that local committees be set up, from which he hoped a central committee for social work in Poland would ultimately emerge. This, unfortunately, did not happen, though in January 1921, when the Relief Conference for Congress Poland (the central part of that country) met in Warsaw, Bogen seemed well on the way to success.

Local fund raising was also initiated in the spring of 1920; although financially insignificant (about $ 20,000 was raised in Poland in 1920), this was valuable in buttressing the morale of the population and preventing them from becoming the demoralized recipients of doles.

[Since 1920: New Jewish relief groups]

Due largely to (p.10)

Bogen's efforts, some local groups began to assume responsibility for palliative aid at the end of 1920.

[1920: Joint installs money transfer service under Isidore Hershfield - 5,250,000 $ to Polish Jews in 1920]

Another vital service performed by JDC in Eastern Europe, especially in Poland, was the institution of a bureau for private remittances under Isidore Hershfield (who was succeeded by Samuel Golter). American relatives of Polish Jews could now transfer small sums of money to them and be reasonably sure that it would reach the desired destination. In addition to the considerable financial aid thus extended to Polish Jewry - $ 5,250,000 during the first eight months of 1920,

(End note 5: In:
-- Bernstein: The History of American Jewish Relief, p.257
-- articles from Zosa Szajkowski with the problems of JDC remittances; In: American Jewish Historical Quarterly 17, nos. 1-3)

which was much more than the money spent on JDC's behalf in Poland - the effect on the morale of Polish Jews was tremendous.

[Work of Joint for orphans - orphan organization CENTOS in 1923 - medical organization TOZ in 1921]
Special efforts were devoted to child and orphan care, the settlement of the refugee question, and the development of medical facilities. In 1923 JDC founded an orphan care group called CENTOS (Federation of Associations for the Care of Orphans in Poland), which later developed into a general child care society.

TOZ,

(Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia Ludnosci Zydowskiej (Society for Safeguarding the Health of Jewish Population)

the medical society, had been founded in 1921.

Both these organizations tended to become less and less dependent on direct JDC aid, though they never became completely self-supporting.

[1921-1922: Joint can install homes and local societies for Jews]
During 1921 and 1922 JCD also managed to liquidate most of its work for the hundreds of thousands of refugees, arranging for the reception in temporary or permanent homes and helping establish local societies to deal with the problem.

[Since summer 1920: Cultural work supported by the Joint under Cyrus Adler]

In the cultural field, the JDC Cultural Committee in New York, under the chairmanship of Cyrus Adler, recommended in the summer of 1920 that schools in Eastern Europe be supported by allocating one-third of the monies raised by the Central Committee and the People's Relief Committee in their separate efforts.

[Cultural support: Split between anti-Zionist Yiddishist schools and Zionist schools]

However, this arrangement was likely to give rise to a great deal of resentment, because the American Jewish socialists tended to support the secular, anti-Zionist Yiddishist schools, whereas the Orthodox (p.11)

of course, supported their own school system in Poland. This would have discriminated against the Hebrew and Zionist schools (the Tarbuth schools) which were then growing in strength and importance. Since AJRC was practically defunct by that time, JDC itself took over the responsibility of paying a suitable proportion of the monies to support schools and institutions that the Orthodox and the socialists did not wish to subsidize.

[1921: JDC help carloads in Poland and in Polish Ukraine - Ukrainians murder Cantor and Friedlander on 5th July 1920]

The end of the Russo-Polish war of 1920-21 also marked the last stages of emergency relief by JDC. Two Americans then in Poland, Dr. Charles D. Spivak and Elkan C. Voorsanger, supervised the dispatch of carloads of supplies to the stricken areas. JDC representatives on mercy missions also ventured into Polish-occupied areas in the Ukraine. On one such journey two JDC workers, Bernard Cantor and Prof. Israel Friedlander, were murdered by Ukrainians on July 5, 1920.

[Since 1919?: Creation of a JDC European Executive branch under Dr. Goldman]

The approaching end of the period of emergency relief was marked by disagreements on the future organizational setup of JDC in Europe. Dr. Goldman, the European director, wanted to create an overall European Executive which would supervise JDC committees in the various countries. Bogen, on the other hand, preferred centralized control from New York and the administration of JDC funds by American country directors. In the end Goldman's concept was accepted and became the standard practice in the period between the wars.

It was only later, after 1945, that nominating American country directors was adopted again, though without abolishing the European Executive, a basic JDC organizational tool that exists to this day.

[JDC European directors 1919-1938: Goldman - Becker - Rosenberg - Kahn]

Julius Goldman resigned at the end of 1920 and was succeeded by James A. Becker. Becker in turn was followed in 1921 by James N. Rosenberg, who served for one year. In 1924 Dr. Bernhard Kahn took over the post of JDC European director, which he was to hold for 14 years.

[End of October 1920: Decision for an end of emergency relief by Goldman proposal - and protest in Poland]
Before he returned to America, Goldman proposed to JDC in New York that a decision be made to discontinue emergency relief, which was done on October 28, 1920, by the JDC Executive Committee. (p.12)

The date for the final liquidation of emergency programs was set for July 1, 1921. As expected, the decision caused a great uproar. A conference of representatives of Jewish aid committees meeting in Warsaw on February 20, 1921, protested the new policy and asked for a postponement, at least as far as eastern Poland was concerned, of six months. A decision to close down the JDC remittances department in Warsaw was also protested.

[1921: Situation of the Jews in Europe differs from country to country]

The situation in 1921 varied from country to country. There was no practical possibility of stopping emergency relief in Poland on the date determined in New York; but the trend was set, and though JDC never did actually stop emergency relief, its scope was very sharply reduced as the year drew to an end.

[1919-1921: Situation in Lithuania with two opposed committees - 35,000 refugees from Poland - Jewish People's Bank]

Lithuania was a different case altogether; JDC entered there only in 1919, when Sholem Asch, the famed Yiddish writer, went there on its behalf. He was followed by a committee from the German Hilfsverein, with whom JDC continued a very close relationship, composed of Dr. Bernhard Kahn, Dr. Arthur Hantke (a well-known German Zionist leader), and Dr. Meier Hildesheimer. A Lithuanian Jewish National Council was opposed there by a left-wing workers' committee. Successive American representatives tried to settle the local differences and help the suffering Jewish population, especially the thirty-five thousand refugees from Poland. Finally, with JDC's help, the Jewish People's Bank was developed, which in 1921 boasted of 77 branches that granted loans at low rates of interest.

[Since February 1920: JDC action in Latvia for Jews fled to the country side]

In Latvia, JDC operations started even later, in February 1920, when the first possibilities of transferring money there became known. JDC sent emergency relief to stricken Latvian Jews, many of whom had left the cities and had gone to the country because of lack of food.

[Henry G. Alsberg in the Prague committee]
In Latvia and Czechoslovakia a resident JDC representative, Henry G. Alsberg, was for a time in practical control of the Prague committee (Hilfskomité) of wealthy Jews.

[1920: Slovakia and Subcarpathian Jews get independent from the Prague committee]
Under a new director, Slovakia and Subcarpathian Russia (in Czech initials, (p.13)

PKR), the easternmost, poorest, Ruthenian-speaking section of the country, were made independent of the Prague committee in 1920. This was quite logical, because the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia, the western sections of Czechoslovakia, recovered very quickly and soon needed no more help.

[1919: JDC action for 120,000 Jewish refugees in Vienna: 1 mio. $ - Viennese social aid committee]

In Austria the main problem was the close to 120,000 Jewish refugees crowded into Vienna at the close of the war. JDC sent Meyer Gillis and Max Pine to the starving city at the end of 1918. Before JDC help became effective, however, many of the refugees trekked home to Poland on their own initiative. The old Viennese social aid committee, the Israelitische Allianz zu Wien, did whatever it could to help those that remained. JDC sent close to $ 1 million to Vienna in 1919, to subsidize soup kitchens and provide medical and child care.

[Hungary 1919-1921: Action by ARA - Jewish Kun government - reactionary government - anti-Semitic laws - deportation of Polish Jews - JDC stops actions in 1921]

In Hungary the situation was still different. There, ARA's [American Relief Administration] effective program for providing a minimum of aid was very cautiously supplemented by JDC funds for specific Jewish aims. A Hungarian Jewish committee, set up - as in other countries - with the full blessing of JDC, slowly took over specific Jewish tasks.

The problem in Hungary was largely political. After the failure of the short-lived Communist regime under Béla Kun, a Jew, the White Hungarian government took a definitely anti-Semitic line, though in fact the Jews had perhaps suffered more than anyone else under Kun's government. The new reactionary regime deported 22 trainloads of Polish Jewish refugees back to Poland. In 1920 Hungary was the first postwar European government to institute a numerus clausus law, permitting only a low percentage of Jewish students to register at the universities. JDC, at any rate, ceased its operations there in 1921.

[Romania 1919-1921: Chaos in new Romanian territories Bessarabia, Bucovina and Transylvania - JDC action by Hettie Goldman]

The situation of the Jews in Romania in the postwar period was even more complicated. While Jews had suffered relatively little in Old Romania (Walachia and Moldavia), complete chaos reigned in Bessarabia, Bucovina, and Transylvania, all of them provinces annexed by Romania from her Russian, Austrian, and Hungarian neighbors. Pioneer work was done there for JDC by Hettie Goldman (p.14)

and James A. Becker in 1919-20. The main results were setting up of provincial central committees in Bessarabia, Bucovina, and Transylvania and the provision of emergency relief.

[Romania: Joint help actions under Alexander A. Landesco - Joint help actions under Noel Aronovici for 15,000 Ukrainian Jewish refugees]
After Becker, Alexander A. Landesco, himself a Romanian-born American Jew, was instrumental in establishing loan kassas - small cooperative banks lending money at very low rates of interest. Fifteen thousand refugees from Ukrainian pogroms also had to be supported, and this problem was dealt with by a local social worker, Noel Aronovici, who entered JDC service and was to become one of the central figures of JDC work in the whole interwar period.

In February 1921 Landesco left Romania, having provided for the cessation of relief.

[1921: Jews expelled from Dniester river to Old Romania by Romanian army - new Joint help actions]

Yet soon after his departure JDC had to intervene again when forty thousand Bessarabian Jews living within seven miles of the Russian border on the Dniester River were brutally expelled into Old Romania by government troops. In Transylvania the reduction in relief aid by JDC was made possible only through an increase in the remittances sent there by relatives in the U.S.

[1914-1918: JDC action in Turkey via the embassy of Holland - Aaron Teitelbaum since 1918]

As we have seen, JDC was founded in response to a cry for help emanating from the Middle East. During the war Turkish Jewry received help via the Dutch Embassy at Istanbul, and after the war Aaron Teitelbaum of JDC supervised the administration of relief there

[Greece 1917: Fire in Salonika - help by the Joint]
and in Salonika, Greece, where an ancient Jewish community had been hard hit by a devastating fire in 1917.

[Palestine 1914-1918: 1.5 mio. $ transferred for uprooted Jews by Turkish rulers]

In Palestine a committee under Eliezer Hoofien, a Dutch Zionist who later was to be the head of Palestine Jewry's foremost banking institution, the Anglo-Palestine Bank, distributed funds under the auspices of the sympathetic Spanish consul, Señor Ballabar. During the war over $ 1.5 million was transferred by JDC, to deal with the problems of a community physically uprooted and evicted from their homes by the Turkish rulers. After the conquest of the country by the British, JDC asked David de Sola Pool, a member of the Zionist Commission then visiting Palestine, to act as its representative. Orphan committees, aid to a Zionist medical unit, support for the religious groups and their institutions, loan banks - all these swallowed (p.16)

very large funds: over $ 3.2 million for the period 1918-21.

[Siberia 1919-20: Joint actions for Jewish prisoners of war under Dr. Frank F. Rosenblatt]

Additional efforts, smaller in scope but no less decisive for those involved, were made to help tens of thousands of stranded Jewish prisoners of war in Siberia in 1919-20. Dr. Frank F. Rosenblatt, the JDC representative, was the moving spirit in setting up a Siberian War Prisoners' Repatriation Fund, in which a number of organizations, including the American Red Cross, participated. 700,000 dollars was spent there by JDC.

[Japan 1919-20: Jews in Yokohama]

Other Jews stranded in Yokohama, of all places, were also helped to emigrate by a cooperative effort of JDC and the great Jewish emigration agency, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS).

[Jews are helped in Iraq and Iran - Jews in Abyssinia / Ethiopia]

Others were helped in Iraq and Iran, and a group of scientists working with the Abyssinian Falashas, who are by some believed to be a lost Jewish tribe, were supported in their efforts.

[Germany 1919: 60,000 immigrated East European Jews - 1923: Hyperinflation and Joint help actions for  Jews and for German children]

In Europe, meanwhile, under Becker's directorship relief aid had been more or less terminated in 1921. The exception to this general rule was Germany, where 60,000 East European Jews had immigrated, most of them after the 1918 armistice. Then Germany underwent its catastrophic economic decline and runaway inflation, in 1922-24, JDC had to come to German Jewry's help. Its aid was concentrated on child care, and its contributions went partly to nonsectarian American efforts to aid German children generally.

[Cooperation Joint - Quaker American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Germany]

In this activity a very close and friendly cooperation developed between JDC and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) of the American Quaker community; this friendship between the two aid organizations was to yield important results during the catastrophes of the 1930s and the 1940s.

[New European Advisory Committee under Louis Marshall - inspection in Europe by Felix M. Warburg, Goldman and Becker - starting of help for self-help actions]

In New York, JDC set up a European Advisory Committee, headed by Louis Marshall, to cooperate closely with its European director. In its behalf Felix M. Warburg went to Europe in 1921 to investigate the situation. His report, together with the views submitted by Goldman and Becker, finally moved JDC to embark on a new policy in Europe: an attempt to help European Jewish communities to help themselves by supporting what was termed "reconstruction" activities. This was to be achieved by establishing (p.16)

each central committee in Europe on a secure, self-supporting basis. Where there were no central committees, functional organizations dealing with different aspects of social work would have to be made independent. This would finally allow JDC to withdraw and terminate its activities.

On June 17, 1921, Herbert H. Lehman, chairman of the new Economic Reconstruction Committee, outlined these proposals to the JDC Executive Committee.

[Joint: Sub-committees]

Parallel to Lehman's committee were other special committees, set up to deal with refugee problems (under David M. Bressler), orphans (under Solomon Lowenstein), and medical care (under Bernard Flexner); these now joined the older Cultural Committee under Cyrus Adler and thus a new organizational structure of JDC emerged, actually designed to lead it to the desired dissolution as speedily as possible. Budgets were itemized according to the different functions, and discretionary funds for the European director were cut to a minimum. A proper accounting system was supervised by the accounting firm of Loeb and Troper.

[Joint: Authority of the laymen - policy determination by others]

What was significant in this whole structure, beyond the practical technical points, was the complete and unquestioned authority of the laymen who provided the funds or directed their collection from others. Marshall, Warburg, Lehman, Lowenstein, Bressler, Flexner, Adler - these men determined what should be done. The professionals like Bogen or Senior, Dr. Rosen in Russia (of whom we shall speak later), and even Jacob Billikopf in America were important; they were treated in a gentlemanly way and listened to carefully and sympathetically, but in the end they were not the ones who determined policy.

[Poland 1921-24: Joint sends over 20 mio. $]

In 1921-24, JDC collected over $ 20 million, hoping thereby to help Europe's Jews in a "once and for all" effort.

[Poland 1924-1925: Recession, harvest failures and anti-Jewish government measures - starving Jews]

But when Warburg went on another investigating trip in 1925, he found that JDC just could not abdicate its responsibility, at least not yet. An economic recession in Poland had caused the government there to founder in a series of contradictory economic policies, some of which were expressly directed against the Jews. A series of crop failures in Bessarabia and Bucovina did not improve the situation. (p.17)

In the winter of 1925/6, 83 percent of the Jewish laborers in Warsaw were unemployed.

(End Note 6: Handlin: A Continuing Task (New York, 1964), p.52)

[Jews of Europa 1926-28: JDC actions of 12.5 mio. $]

Warburg, returning from his investigation, suggested the creation of an "overseas chest". JDC and the Zionists cooperated in this venture at first (1925), but then the different aims of the two groups reasserted themselves. Faced with a Jewish American community that was becoming increasingly indifferent to disaster appeals, JDC nevertheless raised some $ 12.5 million in 1926-28 to continue its work in Europe.

[1929: JDC cannot be dissolved]

At the end of the first decade after the war, 15 years after its founding, JDC was still alive, though very reluctantly. It had always seen itself as a purely temporary organization to help the "coreligionists" in foreign parts get back on their feet economically. American Jews had to help the Jews abroad, certainly, but the proper place for philanthropy and social work was in the United States. Somewhat to its surprise, in 1929 JDC found itself in a world that had turned it into a permanent institution. (p.18)


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