1917 – 1949
Refugee Assistance Fund, New York
Emery Komlos was sent to Australia in 1949 on behalf of the Refugee Economic Corporation, the JDC, and HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) to evaluate local needs in absorbing refugees. On his return trip to the United States he visited Israel, Italy and France to assess conditions in those countries. He died when his flight to New York crashed in the Azores.
Emery Komlos, born in 1917, was a lawyer by profession. After World War II, he served as the Assistant Secretary of the Refugee Assistance Fund in New York, where he was involved in evaluating applications and approving loans to survivors to help them re-establish themselves in Western Europe. These included survivors who wanted to open businesses, as well as individuals who wanted to set up small factories that would train and employ young survivors of the Holocaust.
In 1949, Komlos traveled to Australia on behalf of the Refugee Economic Corporation, the JDC, and HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) to evaluate local needs in absorbing refugees. In the course of his mission he visited every Australian state and met with the country’s Jewish leaders. On his return trip to the United States, he visited Israel, Italy and France to examine the situation of refugees in those countries. Komlos was killed on October 28, 1949, when his flight to New York crashed at San Miguel, in the Azores.
After Komlos’ untimely death, many tributes were received by the JDC. Local Australian leaders commented that, “He impressed everyone with his charm, capacity and sincerity.” The President of the Australian Jewish Welfare and Relief Society wrote to JDC Executive Vice-President, Moe Leavitt: “Mr. Komlos was one of the finest social workers I ever met. His natural and warm approach to our needs gave him a unique opportunity to grasp our problems thoroughly. By now his report or at least a portion of it has certainly reached you, and I hope that the endeavors of the late Mr. Komlos will not all be in vain…” Mr. S. Symonds, President N.S.W. (New South Wales) Board of Deputies, and of the Federation of Australian Jewish Welfare Societies, paid the following tribute: “This is indeed a great personal loss, because Mr. Komlos endeared himself by his charm and pleasant personality to all who met him during his stay in Australia. He impressed us with his keen insight into all our problems and we feel that Jewish migration to Australia has suffered a severe loss, because it was thought that after Mr. Komlos had thoroughly investigated Australian immigration possibilities, the report he might have made to his American principals would have given them a very clear picture of local Australian problems.”
Komlos was survived by his mother Bertha and a sister Edith.
Australian Jewish Herald, November 4, 1949.JDC Archives, AR 45/54, file 258.