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Morale-Boosting Tours: Launch of JDC’s Newest Virtual Exhibit on the Performing Arts

Learn about JDC’s Morale-Boosting Tours during the Postwar Period

We are excited to announce our new virtual exhibit, entitled “Morale-Boosting Tours: Changing Lives through the Arts.” This exhibit explores JDC cultural activities in the displaced persons (DP) camps of postwar Europe, by profiling the international performing artists who toured the DP camps as part of JDC’s morale-boosting tours.

Leonard Bernstein receives a bouquet from a young concert attendant. Feldafing DP camp, Germany, May 1948. JDC Archives

Katya Delakova receiving flowers after a performance at the Excelsior Cinema. Rome, Italy, July 1948. Photograph: Ghibli, Rome. JDC Archives

“Over bumpy roads in JDC jeeps or ambulances, the volunteer entertainers cover camps, assembly centers, children’s homes and hospitals, perform six and seven times daily for six to ten weeks. During rainy weather, they put on their shows in the camp mess halls or assembly halls, repeat them twice or three times nightly so that everyone can enjoy their performances. When the weather is clear, they present their concerts and recitals in outdoor amphitheaters under the stars, where thousands of DP’s gather.”—December 1949, JDC Digest

Film still from Programs for WWII survivors, 1946-48, showing Hassia Levy-Agron arriving at a DP camp in Italy during the summer of 1948. JDC Archives

Highlighted artists include:

  • Conductor Leonard Bernstein
  • Yiddish actor Herman Yablokoff
  • Dancer Hassia Levy-Agron
  • Dancer Paula Padani
  • Dance team of Katya Delakova & Fred Berk

(Left to right:) Paula Padani dancing in costume; Bad Reichenhall, Germany, 1948. Hassia Levy-Agron performs for DPs as part of her JDC-sponsored tour; Rome, Italy, 1948 (Photographer: IPP-International Press Photo-Rome). Katya Delakova and Fred Berk dance on the beach; Germany or Italy, 1948. JDC Archives

Go backstage with the artists to understand why their presence was so valued and imagine attending the performances by viewing photographs and film of the productions. Featuring never-before-seen footage of DP camp performances as well as photos, text documents, and first-person accounts, the exhibit illustrates the enormous impact of these shows. Experience the power of the arts firsthand and tour the DP circuit with the performing artists!