CHICAGO (Oct. 31)
“We are now well on the way to solving the Jewish DP problem,” Prof. William Haber, advisor on Jewish affairs to the American military command in Europe, today told the 34th annual meeting of the Joint Distribution Committee. Some 2,000 delegates from various parts of the United States heard Prof. Haber’s “progress report,” a speech prepared by David E. Lilienthal, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and Edward M.M. Warburg, chairman of the J.D.C.
Dr. Haber, who flew to the conference from Frankfurt, declared that “we are now well on the way to the solution of the Jewish DP problem. Although the end is by no means in sight,” he continued, “we have crossed the roughest part of the road we have to travel in emptying the DP camps.”
Some 4,000 Jewish DP’s a month are leaving the camps for Israel, he disclosed. Of the 145,000 Jewish displaced persons in Germany, Austria and Italy, Israel will absorb 110,000, while the other 35,000 may expect to find new homes in the U. S., Canada and other lands, he said. Dr. Haber praised the U. S. army personnel in Germany, from General Clay down, for their “work and sympathetic understanding in handling the delicate, complex DP problem.”
Contrasting the DP’s of three years ago who, he said, were broken in body and spirit, with these same men and women today, Haber found them wearing a “new look of hope and dignity” with “their backs straight, their eyes clear” and looking “like any other human beings.” Reporting on his recent visit to Israel, he declared that the former DP’s are already contributing to the building of the Jewish state. “To some extent at least, the battle for Israel was won in the DP camps of Germany,” he asserted.
ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION HEAD LAUDS J.D.C. RECORD
Lilienthal, whose speech was read for him because he was confined to his home in Maryland on account of illness, praised the record of the J.D.C. as an inspiring “example and proof of humanitarian and ethical precepts in action.” He added: “You have given to mankind, to a sorely troubled mankind, a living demonstration of faith through works, of brotherly love by deed as well as by word, of compassion for the homeless, the defenseless and the tortured, of tenderness for the fatherless and widowed.”
Warburg described the “remarkable progress” made by the 1,400,000 displaced Jews of Europe since V-E Day. “They are on the road to life,” he said, “an achievement due largely to the more than $200,000,000 the J.D.C. spent in their behalf since liberation.” The agency’s head then declared that next year’s program of assistance would emphasize immigration activities and intensify the reconstruction program.
Since the end of the war, he said, the J.D.C. has helped 125,000 Jews leave Europe. Under the resettlement program, he added, 120,000 Jews in 1948 alone have been helped to become fully or partially self-supporting. “But the point where Europe’s Jews can lead normal decent lives free from want and fear has not yet been reached,” Warburg stated. “This is their goal and ours. If we do not fail them, they will reach this goal. And where there was almost no life there will again be life.”
Opening the conference Saturday, Monroe Goldwater of New York, Chairman of the J.D.C. Reconstruction Committee, reported that one of the major problems facing the J.D.C. in Europe after the solution of the DP situation is that of the Jews who are “economically displaced.” He cited as one instance of this problem, the existence of some 40,000 Jews in Rumania whom the J.D.C., because of a shortage of funds, has been unable to retrain for new occupations since their old commercial training is of no value in the new economic set-up in Rumania.
Moses A. Leavitt, executive vice-chairman of the J.D.C., told the session that “the emergency phase of the J.D.C.’s relief work is now completed.” He revealed that more than 220,000,000 pounds of supplies — food, clothing, medicines, tools, religious and cultural articles — have been sent to Europe’s 1,400,000 surviving Jews by the J.D.C. since V-E Day.
“Since the end of the war, when it appeared that Jewish life abroad was completely shattered,” Leavitt continued, “the J.D.C. has been instrumental in rebuilding 900 Jewish communities across the Continent. To help achieve this remarkable feat, the J.D.C. now operates 382 childrens homes and institutions and 525 hospitals, clinics, sanatoria and dispensaries. In addition, 85,000 Jews attend school under the J.D.C. educational system in Europe; 440 synagogues and other religious institutions have been restored,” he concluded.
MERGER OF J.D.C. AND HIAS EMIGRATION STAFFS IN GERMANY ANNOUNCED
A merger of the emigration staffs service of the J.D.C. and HIAS in Germany was announced by Leavitt. He said the merger was affected to facilitate immigration to the U.S. under the new DP act. He described it as one of several unifying actions the J.D.C. has taken in the past year to consolidate European Jewish aid activities.
A resolution supporting the J.D.C. regional program was also adopted unanimously by the board of directors.
The retirement of Paul Baerwald as treasurer was also announced at the meeting. Baerwald, a founder of the agency in 1914, was hailed in a resolution adopted by the board of directors as a “pillar of strength” in the J.D.C. Benjamin Abrams of New York was elected to succeed him.
Officers re-elected at the conference included Warburg, chairman; Leavitt, executive vice-chairman; Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz, chairman of the European Executive Council; Judge Maurice Bernon of Cleveland, chairman of the National Council, and John Balaban of Chicago, chairman of the J.D.C. West Central Region.