After the Liberation: The Hard Work of Relief and Recovery Begins

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, learn how JDC, acting on behalf of the Jews of North America, sprang into action as one Nazi death camp after another was liberated.

By Ilana Stern | January 24, 2020

As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of theliberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we invite you to learn how JDC, acting onbehalf of the Jews of North America, sprang into action as one Nazi death campafter another was liberated.

Fulfilling its role as the global Jewish9-1-1, JDC raced to meet a crisis of staggering proportions, determined to ensurethat tens of thousands of newly liberated Jews would “survive to enjoy thefruits of freedom.”

In this hour of greatest Jewishneed, the unprecedented outpouring of support from Jews in the U.S. and other alliedcountries fueled an all-encompassing JDC aid program of massive dimensions, onethat would literally bring both individuals and entire communities back tolife.

A JDC nurse looks after infants in the nursery of a Munich displaced persons (DP) camp. Germany, c. 1947.

By late 1945, some 75,000 Jewish survivorshad crowded into displaced-persons (DP) camps in Germany, Austria, andItaly. Over the next two years, that number would triple, as Jews fledwestward from countries whose populations were soon locked behind the Iron Curtain.

Supplementing the relief providedby the U.S. Army and U.N. agencies, JDC distributed supplies that nourished bodyand soul: food, medicine, clothing, equipment, and educational, cultural, andreligious materials, including books, Torah scrolls, ritual articles, andholiday provisions. JDC provided medical care and supported schools,synagogues, and cultural activities, along with vocational training programs, legalrepresentation, tracing services, and emigration assistance.

JDC’s actions are documented in texts, photos, oral histories, and films in the JDC Archives, which you can access online at

Everything Possible: JDC and the Children of the DP Camps is a stand-out curated exhibit on this site. Its facts, figures, and moving images explore eight aspects of JDC’s post-Holocaust work, and it shines a particular spotlight on the children (survivors, orphans, and newborn) whose stories are a little-known part of this historic saga.

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