World Jewish Congress Collection

Introduction by Nolan Altman

· Background
· Database
· Acknowledgements
· Searching the Database

This database contains information on more than 72,000 Holocaust survivors, from the files of the World Jewish Congress (WJC).

Background – The World Jewish Congress

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) collection (1918-1982) consists of the archival records of the New York office of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), an international Jewish representative organization established in 1936.  Originally headquartered in Europe, the WJC's main office was moved to New York in July 1940 when most of Europe was overrun by the Nazis.

A partial listing of major subjects dealt with in the entire collection include: anti-Semitism, human rights, Jewish communities in various countries, Jewish displaced persons, Jewish-Christian relations, immigrants and immigration, Jewish culture, relations with governments and non-governmental organizations (including the United Nations and the Red Cross), restitution, reparations, Jews in Germany, Soviet Jewry, World War II, western hemisphere Jewry, Zionism, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.  The portion of the collection that is included in the JewishGen Holocaust Database comes from material from the 1940s which relates in some way to World War II and the Holocaust.

As Nazism took hold of Europe and the situation for Jews grew increasingly worse during the 1930s, the need for a representative body to support Jewish interests became evident.  Even before the 1936 Plenary, the Preparatory Committee, often represented by Nahum Goldmann, began dealing with Jewish problems in Europe — for example, establishing contacts with governments and the League of Nations; leading an economic boycott against Germany; organizing rescue and relief efforts for Jews in Nazi-controlled territory; and investigating and documenting the condition of Jews in Europe.  Once the WJC was founded, with headquarters located in Paris and another European office in Geneva, its main activities focused on the situation of European Jews.  Among the WJC's activities were efforts concerning Jewish rights, anti-Semitism, and immediate relief (both political and economic) and rescue efforts.  The WJC also concentrated on security for Jewish refugees and victims of the war.  The WJC leadership began planning for post-war activities as well, including indemnification and reparations claims against Germany, as well as punishment of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

With the outbreak of war in September 1939, the Paris office was moved to Geneva to facilitate communications with Jewish communities in Europe.  Then, in the summer of 1940, with most of Europe overrun by the Nazis, the main headquarters of the World Jewish Congress were moved to New York, to share office space with the American Jewish Congress while a special office was set up in London.  At the end of the war, the emphasis of the WJC's activities shifted to rebuilding European Jewish communities.  These activities included assisting displaced persons and survivors of the Holocaust, advocating restitution and reparations from Germany, and assisting in punishment of war crimes.  Another main focus was the World Jewish Congress's involvement in the creation of the State of Israel and working toward the prevention of future catastrophes like the Holocaust.

Source: World Jewish Congress files, Acknowledgments section written by Ina Remus.


The JewishGen Holocaust Database includes only that portion of the WJC collection that includes Holocaust survivor information.  The data comes from Series D, Sets 49 - 51 and 55 - 57.  Due to the quantity of records within these sets, data will be added to this database over time.

A detailed listing of the sets and subsets in this database can be viewed here.

The fields of the database are as follows:


The World Jewish Congress collection was donated to the American Jewish Archives by the World Jewish Congress in 1982, and delivered in June 1983, with a small supplement received in 1987.

World Jewish Congress collection
(Manuscript Collection No. 361)
Linear feet of shelf space occupied: 488.4 ft.
Number of containers: 1221 Hollinger boxes
Processed by: Ronald Axelrad, Kenton Jaehnig, Ina M. Remus, Kathleen L. Spray, and Anna K. Truman
Date completed: March 2002

The information contained in this database was indexed from the files of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM 1997.A.0235).  This information is accessible to you today thanks to the effort of the following JewishGen volunteers who are responsible for the transcription of this file: Nolan Altman (coordinator), David Beard, Kerith Esterhuizen, Kurt Friedlaender, Sharon Klein, Ruth Lebowitz, Sandy Malek, Edward Mitelsbach, Shimon Neumann, Monika Skladowski, and Paula Zieselman.

In addition, thanks to JewishGen Inc. for providing the website and database expertise to make this database accessible.  Special thanks to Susan King, Warren Blatt and Michael Tobias for their continued contributions to Jewish genealogy.  Particular thanks to the Research Division headed by Joyce Field and to Nolan Altman, coordinator of Holocaust files.

Nolan Altman
May 2006

Searching the Database

This database is searchable via JewishGen's Holocaust Database.

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Last Update: 28 Sep 2006 by WSB