JDC Archives Staff Present at FDR Library’s Virtual Conference

Showcase JDC Archives digital material on JDC’s response to the Holocaust

JDC Archives staff presented at a recent virtual conference on “Examining the American Response to the Holocaust: Digital Possibilities” (October 12–15, 2021) hosted by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.

The conference examined the current state of Holocaust scholarship, with a special emphasis on how the field of digital humanities and the increasing need for and access to digital research is changing the way Holocaust research is conducted and disseminated. The conference featured 15 sessions held over a four-day period and drew over 350 scholars, archivists, and the general public.

Anat Kutner chaired a session on “Non-Governmental Organizations During and Immediately After WWII,” which included a presentation by Isabelle Rohr on “A Unique Chapter: JDC and the War Refugee Board.” The presentation provided an overview of JDC’s unique partnership with the US War Refugee Board and showcased a range of primary sources including from JDC Oral History Collection, which could be explored further to advance research on the history of the War Refugee Board. Linda Levi presented “How the JDC Archives Presents Holocaust-Related Content” in a panel titled “American Responses to the Holocaust: USHMM and JDC Archives Resources.” The panel, which included representatives from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, provided an overview of the materials available for various audiences and how those materials can be accessed digitally/virtually, and was followed by a roundtable discussion at which Jeff Edelstein presented. The JDC Archives’ rich digital database for scholars and an array of curated materials for the layman were showcased. Both sessions were live-streamed.

Among the conference highlights were two lectures: Michael Berenbaum’s “Auschwitz—What We Know Now, What We Knew Then,” which examined the factual accuracy of Elie Wiesel’s account (of a conversation with President Jimmy Carter about aerial photographs of Birkenau) and David Woolner’s lecture “The Last Mission—FDR, Ibn Saud and the Question of Israel,” which dealt with President Roosevelt’s one-on-one meeting, during the final months of his presidency, with Ibn Saud, the King of Saudi Arabia, to convince him to support further Jewish immigration into Palestine.

Reflecting on the conference, Abby Gondek, Morgenthau Scholar-in-Residence at the FDR Library, said, “The conference was always intended to be a “public-facing” conference that would provide resources, digital tools, exhibit and curricular ideas to a broad range of audiences. . . . We also wanted to make connections with other museums, libraries and archives that work with Holocaust-related materials, especially those related to American responses to the Holocaust. We hope that the conference sessions currently available on the FDR Library’s YouTube channel will be resources for those who work in museums and archives . . ., for educators who want to create lessons about the Holocaust, for digital humanists looking for new technologies, and for scholars/academics who would like to learn about some of the new developments in Holocaust Studies, especially in the realm of digital humanities.”

For more on this subject, explore our topic guides “The Story of the S.S. St. Louis” and “JDC and the U.S. War Refugee Board“; our online exhibit “Everything Possible: JDC and the Children of the DP Camps“; and “Our Shared Legacy,” featuring photo galleries of JDC’s work rescuing and providing relief during and after the Holocaust and the JDC Archives Names Index.