Finding Aid
Descriptive Summary
Title: Records of the Geneva office of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Creator: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Inclusive Dates: 1933 – 1944
Extent: 205 folders
Link: Records of the Geneva Office, 1933-1944
Location: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Jerusalem Archives
Languages: The majority of this collection is in English; there is also a considerable amount of German and French, as well as some documents in Yiddish, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, Hebrew, Dutch, Italian, and Hungarian.
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 nonsectarian 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.

Geneva Office
The Geneva office records are the records of JDC’s European Headquarters office, which, in the aftermath of World War II, was located in Paris. When JDC’s Geneva office opened in July 1958 as JDC’s European Headquarters, these records were transferred from Paris to Geneva. After JDC’s Geneva Office closed in 1977, these records were shipped to the JDC Archives in Jerusalem.

Custodial History

These records were shipped to Geneva when the JDC Geneva Office opened in July 1958 and were transferred to the JDC Archives in Jerusalem when the Geneva Office closed in 1977. In the period covered by this collection, JDC’s European Headquarters moved from Berlin to Paris in 1933, and from Paris to Lisbon in 1940, where it remained for the duration of World War II.

Scope and Content of Records

In neutral Portugal, JDC staff were well placed to purchase, receive, and send supplies to wartime Europe. The Geneva 1933-1944 collection chronicles JDC’s rescue work during this period as well as its cooperation with other organizations, such as the JDC-International Red Cross efforts to provide packages to concentration camp internees. JDC also worked with the Preparatory Commission of the International Refugee Organization (PCIRO); this contribution is documented by numerous PCIRO case files from Spain and Portugal. A significant subgroup of these transmigrants originated in the Netherlands. In Portugal, JDC, working with the Quaker organization American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), assisted thousands of Jewish refugees. Numerous AFSC case files in the Portugal record group document immigration to the United States from Portuguese ports. In North Africa, JDC provided financial assistance for the rescue and relief efforts of United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) as well as those run by local Jewish individuals and organizations. In Poland, JDC cooperated with existing organizations such as TOZ (Society for Safeguarding the Health of the Jewish Population) in efforts to sustain the Jewish population. In other countries JDC staff endeavored to help individuals to emigrate, send funds to relatives, and search for missing relatives.

Noteworthy items in this collection include a handwritten and signed letter from Simon Dubnow to JDC, a list of Theresienstadt inmates to whom parcels were sent, lists of children who sailed on the S.S. Serpa Pinto, a list of Jews murdered in Riga, and much material documenting Nazi confiscation of Jewish property in various countries. See other wartime collections for complementary material.

Alternative Form of Materials

The material has been digitized and is available online through the textual collections portal of the JDC Archives database.


The records are arranged in a single subcollection:

Countries and Regions

Within this subcollection, there are 33 record groups.

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 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 additional 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, Geneva Collection 1933-1944, Folder GEN.130, “Letter from David Blickenstaff, Re: Spanish Sephardim in Belsen-Bergen,” August 18, 1944,, item 3114172.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Elisheva Friedlander at the JDC Archives branch in Jerusalem in 2021. The finding aid was produced by Jeffrey Edelstein in 2023.

Digitization of this collection was made possible with funding from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Archives of The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Inc.

Email: [email protected]