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Rabbi Judah Nadich, chief Jewish chaplain for the American army in Europe, delivers a speech to French civilians and Jewish soldiers at the rue de la Victoire synagogue in Paris.

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    Rabbi Judah Nadich, chief Jewish chaplain for the American army in Europe, delivers a speech to French civilians and Jewish soldiers at the rue de la Victoire synagogue in Paris.
    Rabbi Judah Nadich, chief Jewish chaplain for the American army in Europe, delivers a speech to French civilians and Jewish soldiers at the rue de la Victoire synagogue in Paris.


    Rabbi Judah Nadich, chief Jewish chaplain for the American army in Europe, delivers a speech to French civilians and Jewish soldiers at the rue de la Victoire synagogue in Paris.
    1944 September 07
    Paris, [Seine] France
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park
    Event History
    The adviser on Jewish affairs to the commander of the US forces in Europe was a position established in August 1945 in the wake of the publication of the Harrison Report on the situation of Jewish displaced persons in the Allied zones of occupation. Seven American Jews served in this position in the four and a half years of its existence between 1945 and 1949: Rabbi Judah Nadich (August-September 1945); Judge Simon Rifkind (October 1945-March 1946); Rabbi Philip Bernstein (May 1946-August 1947); Judge Louis E. Levinthal (June-December 1947); William Haber (January 1948-January 1949); Harry Greenstein (February-October 1949); and Abraham Hyman (October-December 1949). The role of the adviser on Jewish affairs was to interpret US army regulations to the Jewish DPs and advise American commanders concerning the special problems of the survivors. President Truman insisted that candidates for this position be acceptable to the major Jewish organizations, but not partisan to any one of them. This directive led to the formation of the Five Jewish Cooperating Organizations, a new body that consisted of the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the American Jewish Conference, the World Jewish Congress, and the Jewish Agency for Palestine. The Five Jewish Cooperating Organizations selected the advisers on Jewish affairs and financed their expenses. The position was a politically sensitive one, fraught as it was with issues of dual loyalty. Since the adviser was nominated by the US Secretary of War and reported to the European theater commander, he represented the interests of the American army of occupation, but because he was selected and financially supported by the world Jewish organizations, he was also expected to serve the interests of the Jewish DPs. Though many of their policy initiatives and diplomatic efforts never bore fruit, the advisers on Jewish affairs achieved many notable successes. They established positive relationships with the American military leadership in Germany. They made sure that the instructions of the theater commanders to improve the living standards of Jewish survivors in the DP camps were implemented. They conducted effective educational programs to sensitize the American military to the plight of the Jewish DPs. They lent crucial assistance to the Jewish infiltrees from Eastern Europe and prevented the closing of the borders to the American zones of occupation. They were influential in their call for a more liberal DP immigration policy to the US and Palestine. They secured American recognition for the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the US zone of Germany, and they facilitated the symbolically important publication of the first postwar edition of the Talmud in Germany. Finally, they handled with dignity and sensitivity the massive resettlement of Jewish DPs once the borders to America and Israel were opened, as well as the final closing of the DP camps.

    [Sources: Geniizi, Haim, "Philip S. Bernstein: Adviser on Jewish Affairs, May 1946-August 1947," Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual 3 (1997)]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    National Archives and Records Administration, College Park
    Copyright: Public Domain
    Source Record ID: 111-SC-193767 (Album 1311)

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Judah Nadich (1912-2007), first adviser on Jewish Affairs to General Dwight Eisenhower, the commander of the US forces in Europe. Nadich was born in Baltimore, Md. on May 12, 1912. He was the son of a Jewish socialist and member of the Workmen's Circle. At the age of 14 he was awarded a scholarship to study at the Yeshiva high school in New York City. After graduating, Nadich attended a number of universities: Yeshiva College during the day, City College of New York in the evenings, and The Johns Hopkins University during the summers. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies he enrolled in the Rabbinical school of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and in a master's program in history at Columbia University, where he studied with the renown Jewish historian, Salo Baron. In 1936 Nadich received both his rabbinical ordination and his masters degree. He later received a doctorate in Hebrew Literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Between 1936 and early 1942 Nadich served as an assistant rabbi in two congregations: Temple Beth David in Buffalo, New York and Anshe Emet in Chicago, Illinois. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Nadich enlisted in the army as a chaplain. By the end of the summer 1942 he was already on his way to England as the first Jewish chaplain in the European Theater of Operations. For the next two years he was stationed in Northern Ireland and England, where he was responsible for supplying the religious needs of Jewish soldiers and officers and for training and assigning duties to new Jewish chaplains as they arrived in the United Kingdom. In 1944 Nadich was sent to France, where he was put in charge of the procurement of supplies for all religious purposes. When the Allies marched into Paris in August, Nadich followed them. Immediately upon his arrival he sought out the Jewish community, driving his chaplain's jeep into the old Jewish quarter. He was the survivors' first contact with the outside Jewish world, and their meeting was highly emotional. Nadich met with the new Jewish leadership and helped them secure their immediate goals of opening up a public kitchen, establishing a free loan society and making contact with relatives in the U.S. The American chaplain also participated in the first religious service held after the liberation at the rue de la Victoire synagogue. Nadich preached to the assembled congregation of Jewish GIs and survivors in both French and English. On Passover 1945 Nadich conducted seders for 6,000 Jewish troops in the largest night club on the Champs d'Elysee. While in Paris (and later in Germany), Nadich provided help to the Bricha organization in its efforts to move Jewish DPs to coastal ports and board them on ships to Palestine. On several occasions he was able to secure badly needed supplies to help sustain the DPs while they waited for transport to Palestine. In August 1945, after serving in France for a year, Nadich was transferred to Frankfurt. There he assumed the new post of Adviser on Jewish Affairs to the commander of US forces in Europe, which was created in the wake of the Harrison Report that condemned the army for its treatment of Jewish displaced persons. Nadich was sent by Eisenhower and his chief of staff, Walter Bedell-Smith, to visit the displaced persons camps in the American zone of Germany, report back on conditions and make recommendations for their improvement. For the next three months Nadich made repeated tours of the camps. His recommendations to move Jews into separate camps, provide better nutrition, ease restrictions on travel, remove camp fences, set up Jewish committees, and the like were generally supported by Eisenhower, but not always quickly implemented by military units working directly with the DPs. During the fall of 1945 Nadich also had occasion to tour the DP camps in Austria and meet with representatives of the Bergen-Belsen DP camp in the British zone of occupation. On October 19 Nadich accompanied Jewish Agency Executive Chairman David Ben-Gurion on a tour of the Zeilsheim DP camp, his first visit to a displaced persons camp. It was Nadich who convinced Eisenhower to grant Ben-Gurion's request to visit the American zone and meet with survivors. It was also Nadich who advised Eisenhower to permit the Jewish refugees (infiltrees) from Eastern Europe to cross into the American zone and take up residence in the Jewish DP camps when they first started to arrive in the fall of 1945. In November the post of adviser on Jewish affairs was passed on to a civilian appointed by President Truman, Judge Simon H. Rifkind, and Nadich returned to the US. For the next year and a half, he worked as a spokesperson and fundraiser for the Joint Distribution Committee and the United Jewish Appeal. He also did a four-month tour of duty in Rhodesia/South Africa raising funds for the South African Jewish War Appeal. In 1947 he married and resumed his rabbinical career. He served as the rabbi of Congregation Knesset Israel in Brookline, MA for ten years, followed by another ten years at the prestigious Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan. Nadich maintained his friendship with Eisenhower after his military service. The former chaplain wrote a special Rosh Hashanah message for Eisenhower's presidential campaign, gave the invocation at the Republican National Convention where he was nominated, attended his inauguration, and invited him to speak at his synagogue on the twentieth anniversary of the liberation of Europe in 1965.

    [Source: "Interview with Judah Nadich," February 22, 1990, Holocaust Museum Oral History Project.]
    Record last modified:
    2003-10-23 00:00:00
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