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Chapter XVI


The largest organized covert mass migration in the twentieth century brought a quarter of a million Jews from Eastern and Central Europe to the DP camps in Germany, Austria and Italy. The movement started slowly in several places, hardly noticeable at first. It became “Brichah”, an organized underground effort that took Shoah survivors from all over Eastern Europe on difficult journeys with the goal of settling in Palestine. Jewish Polish resistance members and Warsaw ghetto fighters led the way, knowing that Jews were not safe anywhere in Europe. They were challenged by the fact that Jews could not legally move from country to country and that the British were greatly restricting Jewish immigration to the Mandate of Palestine. Moving large numbers of people across borders, through difficult terrain, caring for and feeding them, and attending to their education and religious needs was an enormous task.

The Jewish world responded and organizations such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Mossad, the Haganah, the Jewish Agency for Palestine, Jewish military personnel from the US and England, all played major roles in the massive effort. The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency also had major responsibility for the refugees.

To most Jews in the DP camps it was clear that they must organize and fight for their survival. Illegal ships crammed with refugees and forced into Cyprus camps attracted world attention and raised the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine in the eyes of the world. The number of Jewish survivors in the camps of Germany, Austria and Italy kept growing and no one wanted them except for Palestine. The British were determined to keep them out. Every illegal ship made headlines. Britain refused to listen, eventually losing all of Palestine when the Jewish State of Israel was created. Most of the DP camps disappeared very rapidly since most of the residents went to Palestine. The Brichah and the Mossad organizations were dismantled with the closing of the camps. Most of the Brichah members and the Mossad agents that dealt with transporting Jews across Europe retired and returned to their homes to resume their normal lives.

Incomplete list of Jewish DP camps in Austria

After the liberation of Vienna in April 1945, there were 17,000 Jews in the city, most of whom were Hungarian Jews or other refugees. Between 1945 and 1952, their numbers were augmented by other Jewish displaced persons, whose needs were met by the displaced persons (DP) camps administered by the U.S. Army, the Central Committee of Liberated Jews, the UNRRA, and later the International Refugee Organization (IRO).

Austria and Vienna were divided into American, British, French, and Russian zones. Jewish refugees gravitated towards the U.S. Zone, regarding it as a more desirable haven than the territories of the other occupation forces. A transient population, the Jewish DPs looked towards the American Army for services and protection, rather than towards the Austrian government. The DP camps were also maintained by the UNRRA organization in 1946–1947 and then by the IRO organization in 1948. The US military also provided massive amounts of aid to the refugees.

The Austrian DP camps were also administered by the Central Committee of Liberated Jews that was affiliated with the World Jewish Congress, the Central Committee had its headquarters in Salzburg, and by 1948, represented approximately 25,000 Jewish DPs concentrated in the following camps.

Ebelsberg camp
Ebensee camp
Enns camp
Gratz camp
Hanlein camp
Insbruck camp
Judenburg camp
Linz camp
Saafelden camp
Salzburg camps;

Salzburg; DP Hosp. (U.S. zone) – In the town of Salzburg were a number of Jewish DP camps:

Riedenburg (Machne Yehuda) on the “Neutorstrasse, Ecke Moosstrasse.”
Franz–Josefs–Kaserne or Camp Herzl between
Schrannengasse and Paris–London–Strasse.
Mülln Camp 6 DP in Müllner Hauptstrasse 38.
Maxglan or Beth Beit Bialik camp in Salzburg.
Gnigl or Beth Trumpeldor in the part of Salzburg
Parsch or New Palestine in the Wiesbauerstrasse 9 in Salzburg–Parsch (is also the part of Salzburg) Wallnerkaserne or Givat Ha–Avoda camp 1946 in the small village called “Saalfelden” am Steinernen Meer

Vienna camps:

Rothschild Hospital, Severingasse, Stadteil Alsergrund, UNRRA camp 350, Durchgangslager, Wien IX
Rupertsusplätz, Dombach, Stadheil Hemals, former school, Wien XVII
Arzbergengasse No. 2 Stadteil Hemals, subcamp of Rothschild Hospital, former school Wien XVII
Alserbachstrasse Stadteil Alsergrun transit camp Wien IX.
Wegscheid camp
Wels camp


Incomplete list of Jewish DP camps in Germany

The displaced persons camps and centers in Germany came into existence in 1945 as a result of the liberation of masses of inmates from the Nazi concentration camps and forced labor units. The term “Displaced Person” (and its acronym “DP”) was used by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and by the Allied military commands to describe the persecutees driven by the Nazis from their native countries into Germany and Austria. Of the nearly 6,000,000 DPs who at the end of the war were found in Central Europe, there were only about 50,000 Jewish survivors. But while most of the DPs were being repatriated at a rapid pace, the Jewish survivors from Eastern Europe did not want to return to their countries of origin and demanded that they be allowed to emigrate to Palestine. A report to President Truman by his special envoy Earl G. Harrison submitted on August 1, 1945 supported the assertion that the Jewish DPs were non–repatriable, that they should be considered as Jews rather than nationals of their native countries and that 100,000 immigration certificates to Palestine should be provided for them through the Jewish Agency. These recommendations were accepted by the military government in the American zone where there was the highest concentration of Jewish DPs and as a result, separate camps and centers were set up by UNRRA for the Jews (although the first Jewish DP camp, in Feldafing, was organized prior to the Harrison report).

At the same time the Jewish DP population began to grow quickly as a result of the flight of Jewish survivors from Poland which continued through 1946 and became especially intensive after the pogrom in Kielce, Poland (July 4, 1946). Also, in the spring of 1947 some 20,000 Rumanian Jews took refuge in Austria and Germany. This infiltration of refugees from Eastern Europe brought the total number of Jewish DPs to 184,000 in February of 1947.

The American authorities recognized the need to receive the refugees and establish for them a “temporary haven” in the American zone. This policy was in force until April 12, 1947 when any further infiltration by the refugees into the American zone was barred by the military. The British zone was closed off to the refugees much earlier, on December 5, 1945.

The establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948, aided by the introduction in the U.S. of the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 brought about the solution to the DP problem. By 1951 a great majority of Jewish DPs had emigrated to Israel and to the U.S. The last of the DP camps was closed in 1953.

The Jewish DP group in the French zone was the smallest of all zones comprising in 1947 some 1800 persons.



Airing camp
Amberg, community
Ansbach camp
Aschaffenburg camp
Augsburg, community
Bamberg camp
Babenhausen camp
Bad Aibling camp
Bad Hersfeld camp
Bad Mergentheim camp
Bad Reichenhall, camp
Bad Salzshirf camp
Bensheim camp
Berchtesgaden, rest home
Bergen Belsen camp
Berlin–Düppel camp
Biberach camp
Cham camp
Deggendorf, camp
Dornstadt camp
Eggenfelden, camp
Eichstätt (Formally known as either Eichstädt or Aichstädt) camp
Ellwangen camp
Erlangen camp
Eschwege, camp
Esslingen am Neckar camp
Feldafing, Camp
Foehrenwald, Camp
Frankfurt, community and camp
Fulda, community
Frankfurt–Zeilsheim camp
Funk Kaserne (UNRRA's Emigration and Repatriation Center in Munich)
Gabersee camp
Gauting, hospital
Giebelstadt, camp
Gersfeld, community
Hasenecke, camp
Heidelberg, community
Heidenheim, camp
Hofgeismar, camp
Jagelkaserne near Kassel camp
Krailing–Planegg, community
Lampertheim, camp
Landau, community
Landsberg, camp
Lubeck camp
Leipheim camp
Munich, region
Neu–Freiman, camp
Neu–Ulm, camp
Plattling, community
Pocking Waldstadt, camp
Poppendorf, camp
Regensburg, region
Rochelle, camp
Salzsuflen camp
Schaustein camp
Schwabach, community
Schwabach, region
Schwaebisch Hall, camp
Straubing, community
Stuttgart, region, 1946–1950
Tirschenreuth, camp
Vilseck, camp
Wetzlar, camp
Windsheim, camp
Zeilsheim, camp
Ziegenhain, camp


Incomplete list of Jewish DP camps in Italy

By 1947, the Jewish DPs in Germany, Austria and Italy numbered 250,000. Between 1945 and 1950, around 40,000 Jewish Displaced Persons passed through the Italian peninsula. The precise number is difficult to estimate due to continuous new arrivals and departures, as Italy developed into a major assembly center for refugee emigration (both legal and clandestine) to Palestine.

The majority of refugees entered Italy from the North–East border through the mountain passes (mainly the Brenner pass), where they arrived with the help of the Brichah that connected Eastern Europe to the DP camps in Germany and Italy. The illegal departures for Palestine were then organized by the Italian section of Mossad organization. Between 1945 and May 1948, 34 illegal ships sailed from Italian shores to Palestine.

The main refugee resettlement center was located in Via Unione in Milan. This center was created with the support of Raffaele Cantoni, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, and it functioned from 1945 to 1947. From Via Unione, refugees were redirected to the various DP camps in Italy.


Bari Transit camp in Italy


Bagnoli, camp
Bari, camp
Barletta, camp
Bologna, camp
Casere, camp
Chiari, camp
Cinecitta', camp
Cremona, camp
Genova, camp
Grugliasco, camp
Fermo, camp
Merano, camp
Milano, camp
Modena, camp
Palese, camp
Pontebba, camp
Reggio Emilia, camp
Rivoli, camp
Santa Cesarea, camp
Santa Maria al Bagno, camp
Santa Maria di Leuca, camp
Tricase, camp
Trani camp

The DP camps were both be “mixed camps”, where Jewish DPs cohabited with refugees from various nationalities, and separate Jewish camps. Many refugees also lived in “kibbutzim” or communal groups and training farms for potential farmers in Palestine of which there were more than 60 in Italy. Approximately 5,000 refugees were labeled as “out of camps DPs” and lived in private homes in the main cities. In addition, a few children's homes were created for orphans, the most well–known being Selvino.


Map listing some of the major Jewish D.P. camps in Europe.


All these Jewish D.P. camps were united in their fight to open the gates of Palestine where most of them wanted or hoped to settle. This huge Jewish population will play a decisive role in breaking the British naval blockade and opening the gates to Palestine.


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