AJDC Paris Emigration Service Index Cards Added to Names Index

Digital files were received from Arolsen Archives

The JDC Archives Names Indexing Project has reached a new milestone with the completion of a two-year project to create records for more than 30,000 index cards from the post-World War II Paris office of JDC’s Emigration Service. These records, created by our dedicated volunteers and several Archives staff, are searchable online via our Names Index.

After JDC ceased its own WWII-era tracing activities, it deposited relevant records with the International Tracing Service (ITS) which became a clearinghouse. Although these were JDC documents, the JDC Archives did not have this material until the Arolsen Archives (formerly the ITS) provided the files to JDC as part of a trove of digitized JDC documents related to the tracing and location of Holocaust survivors. The JDC Archives undertook this indexing project to reconnect these records with other records in the JDC Archives collections.

Sample index card from the AJDC Paris Emigration Service collection.

The index cards include the client’s name, date and place of birth, current address, nationality, occupation, destination, and accompanying family members. Some document what was often a two-stage journey for the emigrants, who first traveled from their home countries or DP camps to France, where they awaited final visas and travel arrangements. Others reflect an effort by the JDC Overseas Headquarters in Paris to compile a master index of emigration cases from other JDC Emigration Service offices throughout Europe.

Adding the AJDC Paris Emigration Service cards to the JDC Archives Names Index links them to existing sets of postwar Emigration Service index cards from JDC’s Munich, Vienna, and Warsaw offices, the recently indexed Emigration Service case files from JDC’s Prague office, and lists from the immediate postwar period, creating connections to other documentation in the JDC Archives and augmenting the stories they tell.

An example is that of the Abeles family. An index card in the Paris Emigration Service collection shows Kurt Abeles and his accompanying family members—his wife Alice and their daughters Edith, Elizabeth, and Eva—who in March 1949 were living in Kurt’s hometown of Postoloprty, Czechoslovakia. The card is from the JDC Paris office but indicates that the case originated in the Prague office; and the destination is Australia.

AJDC Paris Emigration Service index card for Kurt Abeles and family.

Turning to the Prague Office case file index, we find a corresponding listing for this family. Among the documents and correspondence in their file, there is a photo of the family and a form dated October 1948 that provides their names and places and dates of birth. From this we learn that the daughters were born in Great Britain from 1941-1945, which means that the family had spent the war years there and then returned to Czechoslovakia. Case notes further inform us that although the family was preparing to emigrate to Australia, in July 1949 they instead left for Israel, and their case was closed. Bringing together documents from multiple sources, including JDC material that is not held by the JDC Archives, is enhancing the value of our Names Index.

Photograph of Kurt and Alice Abeles and their daughters.

AJDC Prague Office Emigration Service case files, folder 4-15.

Document detailing family information and noting departure to Israel of the Abeles family.

AJDC Prague Office Emigration Service case files, folder 4-15.

Another example that we have previously shared is that of the Groll family (“Piecing together a Puzzle with Newly Received Digital Collections,” July 2019), for which we found relevant records in our Prague Office postwar case files, the Paris index cards, and an as-yet undigitized set of index cards of Czech refugees at the time of the 1968 uprising.

The JDC Archives is grateful to our volunteers for their diligent, painstaking work on these cards. The team will now continue a project indexing Emigration Service lists of Departures from Europe, 1947-1954. Nearly 9,000 records have already been created from documents previously found in our text collections and are searchable online in the JDC Archives Names Index. An additional tranche of approximately 250 pages has been identified in the material received from the Arolsen Archives, principally copies that had been held in the files of JDC’s Rome Office. This material will further enrich the offerings available to family researchers in the JDC Archives Names Index.