Finding Aid
Descriptive Summary
Title: Records of the Warsaw Office of the American Joint Distribution Committee
Creator: American Joint Distribution Committee, Warsaw Office
Inclusive Dates: 1939 – 1941
Extent: 20 linear feet
Location: Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw, Poland
Link: The Warsaw Office 1939-1941 Collection
Languages: The majority of this collection is in Polish and German, with some records in Yiddish and other languages.
Administrative History

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading 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.

Custodial History

Details of the collection’s survival from the closing of the AJDC offices in December 1941 until the end of the war are uncertain. According to staff of the Jewish Historical Institute (JHI), there is an assumption that it was stored or hidden in Krakow, kept together with the records of the Jewish Social Self-Help (Aleynhilf or Zydowska Samopomoc Spoleczna; ZSS), a social welfare committee primarily funded by the Polish branch of JDC. In 1945, the Krakow Jewish Historical Commission transferred the material to the Central Jewish Historical Commission, the predecessor of the JHI.

Scope and Content of Records

The files of JDC’s Warsaw Office from 1939-1941 constitute the record of JDC’s activity in Poland, principally in the area of the General Government, from the Nazi invasion in September 1939 until the United States entered World War II in 1941. After the U.S. entered the war, JDC’s Warsaw Office could no longer operate. The documents testify to the increasingly desperate situation of Polish Jewish communities and JDC’s efforts to provide humanitarian relief and coordinate the distribution of food aid. JDC’s operations in Poland in this period was organized into four regional branches: the main headquarters in Warsaw and offices in Krakow, Lublin, and Radom. JDC worked with the relief organizations TOZ and CENTOS as well as with representative organizations of the Jewish community in numerous Polish towns.

The collection is arranged in two subcollections: General Administration and Finance and Localities. The General Administration and Finance subcollection includes documents outlining the structure and mission of the organization; financial materials, including budgets; inspectors’ reports from the regional offices; lists of towns including Jewish residents and refugees; lists of those seeking to emigrate; and correspondence with other organizations within and outside Poland, foreign diplomatic missions, other JDC offices in Europe, and with businesses outside Poland from which goods were purchased.

The Localities subcollection, alphabetically arranged by town, includes correspondence between JDC and the representatives of Jewish organizations regarding financial aid. Most of these files include lists of Jews receiving aid, including the type and amount, as well as budgets and financial reports of the local assistance committees.


The Warsaw office materials are arranged in two subcollections. Files are primarily arranged in chronological order.

General Administration and Finance

Alternative Form of Materials

The records in this collection have been digitized and are searchable online through the JDC Archives database.

The collection has also been microfilmed on 31 reels, which are available at the Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw (JHI); 21 of these reels are available at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. (USHMM).

The microfilming of this collection was funded by The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany via the USHMM. The JDC Archives later digitized the collection by agreement with the USHMM and the JHI.

Related Materials

The original documents are held at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland.

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 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, Digital Collections, Warsaw Office Collection 1939-1941, Folder 65, “Letter from Dr. Wl. Gorczycki to American Joint Distribution Committee,” July 10, 1940,, item 2627627.

Processing Information

The current arrangement of this collection and preparation of the inventory was performed by Halina Grubowska of the Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw, in 2001.

This finding aid to the digital files in the JDC Archives database, based on the prior Polish finding aid, was produced by Jeffrey Edelstein and Tamar Zeffren in 2016.

The digitization of this collection was made possible through funding from the Kronhill-Pletka Foundation.

For the 1945-1949 collection, click here.

Archives of The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Inc.

Email: [email protected]