Our Collections

Historic Film, Video, and Audio Collection

Cameramen filming emigrants boarding a train, possibly for the film “A Day of Deliverance.”

Belsen, Germany, 1949. Photograph by Ursula Litzmann, Hamburg.

Throughout its history, JDC has documented its work, commissioning films of its relief operations and the historic circumstances to which it responded through audiovisual media. These rare films now constitute a unique eyewitness 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 JDC Archives AV Collection also includes sound recordings of historic speeches to JDC audiences and radio broadcasts initiated by JDC. Since the 1980s, JDC created videos to document its work. These films, videos, and sound recordings 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 items in the JDC Archives Historic Film, Video, and Audio Collection were vital sources of information for Americans, particularly Jews, about the hardships incurred by displaced and otherwise threatened individuals and communities abroad. These materials also documented JDC’s efforts in aiding vulnerable populations through rescue, relief, and communal rebuilding. The geographic diversity of the AV Collection reflects JDC’s global reach, and the range of subjects indicates the organization’s broad humanitarian aid mandate. These primary sources 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 has begun to digitize historic AV materials and will continue this effort as funding allows. A sampling of digitized clips appears below; see also our List of Digitized Films, Videos, and Sound Recordings. In addition to the 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.

To screen digitized copies of films, videos, or sound recordings, please contact us. Note that there is no fee for screenings that are for classroom or educational use. To license clips, an online order form should be submitted. For further information, including information about films, videos, and sound recordings that have not yet been digitized, please submit a request information form.

Search the Historic Film, Video, and Audio Collection

Sample 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.

What I Saw in Germany, 1946

Radio address by Rabbi Judah Nadich, senior Jewish chaplain in Europe and adviser to Dwight Eisenhower, on the needs of Jews in DP camps.

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 Day Is Short, 1956

David Ben-Gurion addresses U.S. Jewish leaders on a study mission to Israel, October 19, 1956, as tensions over Suez mount.

Forsake Me Not, 1958

Elderly residents of the newly constructed MALBEN community of Neve Avot gather as the last home in Pardes Hanna, where they had previously lived in temporary housing, is razed.

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.

Heritage of Love, 1971

Scenes show JDC-supported programs for the elderly and children in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, and feeding programs and educational initiatives in Tehran, Iran.

JDC in Sarajevo, 1997

A summary of JDC’s rescue efforts during the Siege of Sarajevo in 1992-1994, when JDC led evacuation convoys that took both Jews and non-Jews to safety.