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JDC vice-chairman Moses Leavitt visits DP camps in 1947; Lag B'Omer celebration

Film | Digitized | Accession Number: 2019.562 | RG Number: RG-60.7106 | Film ID: 4474

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    JDC vice-chairman Moses Leavitt visits DP camps in 1947; Lag B'Omer celebration


    Original, out-of-sequence, private footage documenting the field trip by Moses Leavitt (JDC’s Executive Vice Chairman from 1947-1965) in April/May 1947 to DP camps in the American Zone in Germany with stops in Austria, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.

    01:00:10 At a displaced persons camp in Germany, EXT pan along a path lined with trees, children playing soccer. Crowd of DPs gather, children sitting in the front, waving at something off camera. Several young children are guided by two women up the path, they stand, some holding hands, as a woman arranges them.

    01:01:13 INT dark room with light from the window showing people walking. Child sitting and eating alone at a table set with many plates and mugs. Children sitting at a table coloring and looking at the camera. Pan up from the table of a poster and sign in Hebrew on the wall beneath two portraits. 01:02:05 JDC representative from New York, Moses Leavitt (in hat and glasses), and a group of men walk towards a technical school building “FACHSCHULE”.

    01:02:19 Lag B’Omer celebration for DP camp children (May 8, 1947), likely at Foehrenwald in Germany. An elaborate stage outdoors painted blue and white with signs in Hebrew: a famous quote from Zionist founder Theodore Herzl, "im tirtsu ein zo agada'' -- "If you will it, it is no dream." Guard with blue and white helmet with Star of David. From stage, view of the audience with children seated in the front row. They applaud. Harmonica virtuoso, Larry Adler, on stage stands playing the instrument into a microphone, another man sits on a bench beside him playing an instrument. CU of a toddler in white standing before the rows of seats, posing for the camera. Adler plays directly in front of the crowd, off the stage.

    01:03:59 LS village with mountains in the BG, probably in Austria. EXT of a building with several people and a car. MS, couple standing on terrace, mountain in the BG. Large villa. 01:05:11 Sign for a tailor shop “LAWODA” in several languages with a star of David. INT, women sewing. EXT of a walled garden with a white bench. CU of a wooden sign and entrance for a supply shop, two DP men in training exit the building.

    01:06:05 Allied cargo ships with relief supplies unloaded in Bremerhaven, Germany. EXT Docked boats, one labeled “ALLIED FORCES.” Crane moving a large wooden box labeled: “Relief Supplies… Amer. Joint Distribution Committee ℅ UNRRA warehouse… Bremen?, Germany”.

    01:06:42 Bombed-out Warsaw. House of the Jewish Council building. Damaged buildings and rubble. CU of Ghetto Heroes Monument with plaque on the ground with Hebrew writing. Pan, more buildings and rubble. Man (Leavitt?) in a dark suit stands in rubble. Sign for “Nalewki 13” (the main corridor of the Jewish quarter of Warsaw). Ruins. Same man leans against a damaged building.

    01:08:30 DPs stand in front of a building, pan up face of building. Horses and cart. Fields and power lines. Displaced persons hoeing and planting in a field. 01:09:20 A Polish children’s home (most likely in Otwock, Poland), young girls jump and dance indoors. EXT a girl with a bow in her hair recites something and girls dance as others watch. Two adolescent boys box with boxing gloves. 01:10:08 Dark shot, indoors, with two people (Leavitt?) silhouetted against a bright light. Children sit outside under trees with cushions. Dark shot of displaced persons standing in front of a building. INT, CU of men sitting at a table in a vocational workshop. One of the visitors holds the lighting in place for the indoor scene, gesturing at the men (Leavitt?) standing behind the workers at the table.
    Event:  1947 April-1947 June
    Warsaw, Poland
    Otwock, Poland
    Bremerhaven, Germany
    Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) Archives
    Camera Operator: Moses A. Leavitt
    Leavitt was born in New York City. He studied chemical engineering and worked with chemical companies until 1922, when he entered Jewish social service work. He became assistant secretary of the American Joint Distribution Committee in 1929, then was transferred in 1933 to the Palestine Economic Corporation, an organization closely allied to JDC, where he served as vice president and secretary. Succeeding Joseph Hyman as JDC secretary in 1940, Leavitt directed JDC aid from the U.S. to German-occupied Europe. Together with Joseph J. Schwartz in Europe, Leavitt formed most of the policy decisions during the war and especially after it, when JDC spent the largest sums in its history aiding Jewish survivors in Europe. He also took part in channeling JDC efforts to immigration to Israel and the start of social service for the elderly (Malben) there. After prolonged negotiations, he was one of the signatories of the $107 million agreement with West Germany on Jewish Material Claims. Leavitt, who had been executive vice chairman of JDC from 1947, served as chairman of the American Council of Voluntary Agencies from 1954, and later as honorary chairman (1958). He was also a member of The Hebrew University Board of Governors (from 1959).

    Physical Details

    B&W / Color
    Image Quality

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    You do not require further permission from the Museum to access this archival media.
    American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
    Conditions on Use
    This film can be licensed from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) Archives (

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Film Provenance
    The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum jointly preserved this film from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Archives in early winter 2020 and obtained digital scans of the film in April 2020. This film is owned by Laurence Zuckerman and Faye Zuckerman.
    Refer to photo of harmonica virtuoso, Larry Adler:
    Copied From
    16mm, Color Reversal, No Sound, 425ft, Original
    Film Source
    American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
    Record last modified:
    2024-02-21 08:05:26
    This page:

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