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Medals of Honor

Medals of HonorOct 13, 2015 For Holocaust survivor Wiktor Lezerkiewicz (Victor Lewis), soccer games at Bad Ischl Displaced Persons camp played an essential role in his postwar life. Originally from Krakow, Poland, Victor was active in the Jewish community, serving as a founder and continuous active board member of the Crakow Friendship Society and a board member of the Friends of Israel Disabled Veterans-Beit Halochem until his death in 2009. During the war, he was held captive in the Krakow Ghetto, at the Plashov concentration camp, and eventually became an inmate in Oskar Schindler’s factory in Brünnlitz, Chechoslovakia. He...

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Documenting JDC’s Work in the Soviet Union

Documenting JDC’s Work in the Soviet UnionJul 8, 2015   The document pictured to the right represents the opening of a new chapter in JDC’s work in the former Soviet Union. In 1991, a multi-entry visa was issued to Ralph Goldman, allowing travel among Washington, Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, and Vilnius, between July 1, 1991 and April 5, 1992. This visa reflects the outcome of Goldman’s extended and sensitive negotiations, during his second term as JDC’s Chief Executive Officer from 1986-1988, with Soviet officials in the Department of Religious Affairs, successfully navigating JDC’s return to what became the former Soviet...

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Miranda Carson Shares Her JDC Story

Miranda Carson Shares Her JDC StoryJun 24, 2015   When I recently started working at JDC, I was delighted to find the JDC Archives Names Index on the JDC Facebook page. My interest in family and history encouraged me to research both my grandparents’ lives. In my maternal family, we don’t have heirlooms passed through generations, nor do we have many other family members to call up and ask for details. We have stories; stories that change slightly over time, and with years, places, even names forgotten. Both my maternal grandparents were immigrants, their childhoods rocked by the horrors...

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Traversing a Minefield to Escape Communist Hungary

Traversing a Minefield to Escape Communist HungaryApr 1, 2015    “[We] were very thankful [you gave] us a hand to start a new life in a new country!”     -Eva Kolosvary-Stupler in a March 2015 letter to JDC With the outbreak of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, some 170,000 refugees, among them more than 18,000 Jews, fled across the border to Austria. Eva Kolosvary-Stupler, then Eva Kolosvary, and her late husband, Paul Kolosvary, both Holocaust survivors, decided to make the arduous trek to Austria when the Soviet tanks entered Budapest in October 1956. Eva and Paul escaped Budapest into...

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“Conditions Terrifying Utterly Hopeless”: A 1933 Telegram

“Conditions Terrifying Utterly Hopeless”: A 1933 TelegramMar 26, 2015 In 1933, Rabbi Irving Reichert, a prominent San Francisco rabbi, conducted a week-long study trip of the status of German Jewry at the behest of JDC’s German Relief Campaign, which was spearheading a campaign to raise $2 million to aid the beleaguered German Jews. His study surveyed conditions in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Baden-Baden, and included interviews with Jewish refugees in London, Paris, and Prague. On June 27, Rabbi Reichert sent a cable to Rabbi Jonah B. Wise, rabbi of Manhattan’s Central Synagogue and a prominent leader of Reform Judaism, who...

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Festive Purim Sketches in an Israel Old Age Home

Festive Purim Sketches in an Israel Old Age HomeMar 3, 2015   For the 200 residents of an old age home in Netanya, Israel, Purim 1955 was not only an opportunity for gifting food baskets, reciting the megillah and having a celebratory feast. It was an opportunity for the seniors, many of whom were refugees from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, to perform Purim sketches for the medical and social welfare professionals who served them. The old age home was a program of MALBEN, a JDC-supported network of institutions and services for handicapped, elderly and chronically ill...

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President Woodrow Wilson and JDC

President Woodrow Wilson and JDCFeb 13, 2015 ”We must try to visualize the true significance of the facts that three million children are undernourished; that six million men and women are utterly dependent upon outside aid for the preservation of life; that hundreds of thousands of our fellow beings are stricken with typhoid fever…” – President Woodrow Wilson to Felix M. Warburg, Chairman of the JDC Board, on May 27, 1920 In the aftermath of World War I, JDC found itself addressing tremendous needs in Europe and Palestine. JDC’s response included developing child care programs for orphans, vocational and...

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Citibank, a Mysterious Bank Account, and a Hunt in the Archives

Citibank, a Mysterious Bank Account, and a Hunt in the ArchivesJan 6, 2015       When Herbert Block received a call from Citibank in 2004, it wasn’t about his credit card bill or personal banking. It was about two mysterious 70-year old dormant Jewish organizational bank accounts from Lithuania with no owner, no claimant, and no heir in sight. Citibank maintained the New York accounts, with a balance of approximately $60,000, but had seen no activity in the accounts for many years. Citibank approached The Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO), a division of the New York State Banking...

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