Our Collections

Oral History Collection

JDC’s Oral History Collection includes over 150 interviews conducted with JDC staff members and community leaders between 1966 and 2010. These extraordinary testimonies from JDC staff and partners “on the front lines” worldwide detail their responses to humanitarian disasters over the past century and offer users a unique perspective on Jewish history and the evolution of humanitarian involvement throughout the twentieth century.

Interviewees reflect the global scope and geographic breadth of JDC’s relief initiatives. These individuals include “lifetime” JDC staff and community leaders working in: displaced persons camps after World War II; communities in Cuba, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, and Turkey; refugee resettlement and Holocaust survivor rehabilitation programs in Israel; aid and rescue operations in Algeria, Ethiopia, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen; and Eastern Europe against the backdrop of Communism.


These oral histories enrich and transcend the historic record of JDC’s rescue, relief, and renewal efforts and make accessible to users a treasure trove of primary source material from those who designed and delivered aid around the world and adapted to meet historic crises over the past century.

To access the finding aid to JDC’s Oral History Collection, please click here.

Sample Oral History Clips

Harry Biele

Harry Biele, who worked in JDC’s Lisbon office after World War II, reminisces about an unusual request from a rabbi as yeshiva students travel to Palestine.

Ralph Goldman

Ralph Goldman, a long-time JDC leader and towering figure in 20th-century Jewish life, discusses a fundamental post-Holocaust question: “whether to save Jews or Judaism.”

Edward Halbright

Edward Halbright, a WWII child survivor, recalls working on farms in France during the war in place of local boys taken as foreign laborers to Germany.

Evelyn Peters

Evelyn Peters, long-time JDC country director, discusses establishing innovative early childhood programming and resources in Iran in the late 1950s.