Finding Aid
Descriptive Summary
Title: The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Cyprus Operation, 1945-1949
Creator: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Inclusive Dates: 1945 – 1949
Extent: 5 linear feet
Link: The Cyprus Operation 1945-1949 Collection
Location: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Jerusalem Archives
Languages: The majority of this collection is in English and Hebrew. Other languages represented in the collection are listed here in order of predominance: German, Yiddish, French, Hungarian, and Greek.
Administrative History

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. Formed in 1914 in response to the onset of World War I and the devastation it wreaked on thousands of Jewish communities across war-torn Europe, JDC has served over the past century as the overseas arm of the American Jewish philanthropic community, providing rescue, relief, and rehabilitation services to global Jewish communities and individuals in need worldwide.

In the present day, JDC continues its efforts to alleviate hunger and material hardship, rebuild and sustain Jewish cultural and social service infrastructures and communal institutions worldwide, aid at-risk Jewish communities and individuals, and provide critical relief and long-term non-sectarian development assistance services for victims of man-made and natural disasters in more than 90 countries across the globe.

The JDC Archives holds, describes, preserves, and makes accessible the organization’s institutional records. These records include: approximately 3 miles of textual records; a photo collection of approximately 100,000 photo images; over 1,300 films; and a collection of over 1,000 sound recordings, which document JDC’s history and its global activities.

Cyprus Operation

In August 1946, British authorities established a policy of deporting Jewish refugees not permitted to enter Palestine to barbed-wire detention camps on Cyprus, then a British protectorate. From 1946 until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the British confined over 53,000 Jewish deportees, primarily Holocaust survivors and refugees, in 12 detention camps on Cyprus. JDC was granted permission to work in these camps to supplement the meager services provided by the British. JDC staff, under JDC’s Cyprus Country Director, Morris Laub, set up an extensive relief program, which included food, clothing, medical care, cultural and educational activities, and vocational training.

Custodial History

The collection was sent to Israel after the Cyprus camps were closed and stored in Petach Tikva. The documentation was transferred to Jerusalem in the early 1980s.

Scope and Content of Records

The Cyprus Collection of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJJDC) offers a unique window into a pivotal period of 20th-century history by documenting the dramatic events in Cyprus against the backdrop of the birth of the State of Israel. Beginning in August 1946, the British government began deporting Jews who came to Palestine in violation of the White Paper of 1939 to the island of Cyprus. From August 1946 to February 1949, the deportees–primarily Holocaust survivors–lived behind barbed wire in 12 detention camps. During this period, approximately 53,000 Jews passed through the camps, 2,200 children were born in the camps, and 400 Jews died there. These Jewish refugees benefited from JDC’s extensive relief program, which provided supplementary food and clothing, medical care, educational/cultural activities, and vocational training.

The Cyprus Collection contains a wide array of materials that shed light on the lives of the deportees, including personal letters, group petitions, and newspapers published by the deportees themselves. It provides a rich account of the aid activities of the AJJDC in the British detainee camps, including correspondence with the British authorities, medical care, educational programs, welfare activity, immigration to Mandatory Palestine and Israel, and eyewitness accounts of conditions in the camps written by the AJJDC administration. It also consists of many documents that portray the activities of the British soldiers.


The Cyprus Collection materials are arranged into the following three subcollections:

Subject Matter


Laub, Morris. Last Barrier to Freedom: Internment of Jewish Holocaust Survivors on Cyprus 1946-1949. Berkeley, Calif: J.L. Magnes Museum, 1985. Morris Laub was the JDC Country Director in Cyprus throughout the period covered by this collection.

Related Material

There are 184 photographic images from the Cyprus detention camps in the JDC Archives Photograph Collection.

Laub, Morris, interview by Murray Kass and Herbert Katzki. 1981, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Archives, Herbert Katzki Oral History Collection.

Alternative Form of Materials

The records in this collection have been digitized and are searchable online through the textual collections portal of the JDC Archives database. The collection has also been microfilmed on 19 reels, 16 of which are open for access.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers with the exception of files that are restricted due to the nature of their contents. Restricted files can include legal files, personnel files, case files, and personal medical diagnoses, etc. Please see our Access and Restrictions Policy for further details.

Copyright Conditions

Copyright held by The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Inc. Other intellectual property rights may apply. The publication of JDC records in any format requires the written permission of the JDC Archives. Users must apply in writing for permission to reproduce or publish manuscript materials found in this collection. Please see our Access and Restrictions Policy for further details. For information contact: [email protected]

Preferred Citation

Repository, Title of Collection, Folder number, Title of item, Date of item,, item [ITEM ID number].

Example: JDC Archives, Cyprus Operation 1945-1949, Folder CYP.119, “Letter from Postmaster General to Inspector General,” March 15, 1948,, item 570625.

Processing Information

A finding aid to the collection was created by Robin Eaton in the mid-1980s and updated by Sarah Lemann in 2011.

Digitization of this collection was made possible with funding from the Polonsky Foundation.

Archives of The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Inc.

Email: [email protected]