|Title:||Records of the Czechoslovakia Offices of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1945-1950|
|Creator:||American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Czechoslovakia Offices|
|Location:||Physical documents are housed at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Prague. Digital copies are available through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Archives.|
|Link:||The 1945-1950 Records of the Czechoslovakia Offices of 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 125,000 photo images, over 1,300 films, and over 1,000 sound recordings, which together document JDC’s history and its global activities.
The original documents were confiscated by the Communist government of Czechoslovakia after JDC was forced to leave the country in January 1950. The material was held in the Czech Ministry of Interior, Archive of Security Forces, where it formed the bulk of a collection on Jewish organizations. After the opening in Prague of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in 2008, the records were officially transferred to the institute from the Ministry of the Interior. The JDC Archives received a set of digital files of the collection in 2019 via the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives with the permission of the institute.
Scope and Content of Records
The files of the JDC offices in Czechoslovakia, located in Prague and Bratislava, constitute the record of JDC’s activity in that country from the end of World War II until the Czech government ordered JDC to leave the country in 1950. During this postwar period, JDC sustained Jewish survivors by providing financial assistance, distributing relief parcels, maintaining soup kitchens, and supporting orphanages, homes for the elderly, and Jewish education. Especially noteworthy is the work of the JDC Emigration Service, which assisted thousands of Jews to leave for countries in North and South America, Australia, and elsewhere, as documented in 191 boxes of case files within the collection. Other files document the Bricha, a JDC-supported clandestine movement that saw thousands of mostly Polish Jews cross through the Czech border on their way to the American Zone of occupied Germany. JDC provided food, lodging, and transport to the refugees en route.
Many other files contain financial and other records of the Accounting Departments in Prague and Bratislava, including monthly reports to JDC’s European headquarters in Paris, travel costs for emigration assistance, and social assistance to the sick and needy. Shipping Department records document the transport, receipt, and transshipment of clothing, food, and other relief supplies from the United States. Other record groups detail communication with other Jewish organizations and local communities and reconstruction efforts through support for cooperatives and loan kassas.
The Czech collection records are arranged in two subcollections:
Alternative Form of Materials
The original documents are held at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Prague. Additional sets of the digital files are held at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Prague, and at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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. Case files can be requested by family members only.
Copyright belongs to 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]
Repository, Title of Collection, Folder number, Title of item, Date of item, https://search.archives.jdc.org, item [ITEM ID number].
Example: JDC Archives, Czech Office Collection 1945-1950, Folder 414.01, “Accounting: Budget – Children’s Relief, January-June 1947,” https://search.archives.jdc.org, item 1325515.
The current arrangement of this collection is based on the existing order of the numbered boxes according to the inventory of the Czech Ministry of Interior, Archive of Security Forces, prior to transfer to the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. English-language file titles based on the original Czech titles and file titles for the contents of boxes without folders were created by Jeffrey Edelstein, with database record creation by Misha Mitsel.
This finding aid was produced by Jeffrey Edelstein in 2022.