Historic Film Collection
Throughout its history, JDC commissioned films of its relief operations and the circumstances to which it responded. These rare films now constitute a unique record of communities that in many cases no longer exist. The films provide fertile ground for researchers interested in Jewish history, refugee studies, and the evolution of humanitarian aid interventions in the 20th century.
The JDC Archives Historic Film Collection stands as a unique first-hand account of the diverse Jewish communities, many of them now vanished or significantly diminished, throughout the 90 countries where JDC has worked over the past century. The films document world-changing events and the pressing needs of the millions of people in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East and collectively encompass the period of World War II and its aftermath and the eventful decades that followed.
The geographic diversity of the films reflects JDC’s global reach, while the range of subjects indicates the organizations broad social service mandate. Used to inform Americans, particularly Jews, about the hardships incurred by displaced and otherwise threatened individuals and communities abroad, the films also document JDC’s efforts in aiding these populations through rescue, relief, and communal rebuilding.
The JDC Archives has begun to digitize these films and will continue this effort as funding allows. A sampling of clips from these digitized films appears below; see also our List of Digitized Films.
In addition to these films that JDC produced, the JDC Archives has researcher copies of films made by others that incorporate material from our collections. This includes completed films by our JDC Archives Documentary Film Grant awardees.
Sample Film Clips
Bound For Nowhere: The St.Louis Episode,1939
Refugees leave Nazi Germany for Cuba; refused entry there, they sail to other countries where JDC secured last-minute immigration.
A Tale of Two Worlds, 1941
A promotional film addressing JDC’s response to the Nazi advance in Europe, showing aid to refugees around the globe.
A Day of Deliverance, 1949
Operation Magic Carpet: Yemenite Jews, having crossed deserts, mountains and borders, often on foot, arrive at Aden airport to be flown to the newly formed State of Israel.
The Long Hard Days, 1962
Algerian and other North African Jewish immigrants wait for a meal at an overcrowded soup kitchen in Paris, France, and begin the resettlement interview process.