NEW YORK (Feb. 5)
Despite deteriorating living conditions and increasing need, the displaced Jews of Germany are making a tremendous effort to transform the DP camps into areas of bustling activity as they prepare for useful careers and citizenship in Palestine, the U.S. and other lands, Charles Passman, acting director of the Joint Distribution Committee in. the U.S. zone of Germany, declared at a press conference here today upon, his return from the Continent.
“The days of DP life today are crowded to near capacity with scores of JDC-sponsored activities designed to prepare these homeless Jews for life outside the camps,” Passman stated. He reported that the Jewish DP’s are showing an “amazing revival of spirit and vitality” and are utilizing every moment in preparation for the new life they hope to lead when they leave their present abnormal surroundings for the lands of their eventual settlement.
“The enthusiastic participation of the DP’s of Germany in these projects is a heartening demonstration of their faith in the future, the JDC official asserted. “Encouraged by the United Rations decision on Palestine and by the prospects of passage of the Stratton Bill in the United States, they are bending every effort towards improving themselves and their skills so that they can become self-supporting, self-respecting persons once again.”
The outstanding new feature of life in the camps is the establishment of work projects in which 5,000 Jewish DP’s, working with JDC-provided tools and raw materials, are entering into the production of needed goods. Sixty-nine production units are already in operation, including clothing plants, woodworking and metal-work shops and shoe factories, he reported. The overcoat workshops in the work projects manufacture 7,000 garments monthly, Passman said. He reported that the products manufactured in the projects are used by the DP’s themselves and that workers en-rolled in the program receive pay in the form of “JDC scrip,” redeemable in specially–stocked JDC canteens for various supplies.
Valuable camp functions are also performed by some 17,000 Jewish man and women enrolled in service projects in the camps. Passman reported that DP’s serve as teachers, physicians, cooks, firemen, policemen, sanitation workers and administrators. These workers also receive pay for their services in scrip.
The JDC official warned, however, that the provision of basic JDC aid–food, clothing, medicines and welfare services–is more important this year than ever be-fore in order that the DP’s retain their confidence in the future and gain health and strength as they prepare for a new life.” He pointed out that fully 85 percent of 130,000 Jewish DP’s in the American zone of Germany are still dependent on JDC supplies, especially since the sharp reduction of total quantity of food provided by the International Refugee Organization to the DP’s. “JDC food supplies today form the major part of the daily rations of the Jewish DP’s,” he declared.