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A sewing workshop at Neu Freimann displaced persons camp.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 20126

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    A sewing workshop at Neu Freimann displaced persons camp.
    A sewing workshop at Neu Freimann displaced persons camp.


    A sewing workshop at Neu Freimann displaced persons camp.
    Neu Freimann, [Munich] Germany
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Saul Sorrin

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Saul Sorrin
    Source Record ID: Collections: 2000.27

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Saul Sorrin (1919-1995), an American Jew who served as UNRRA director and field supervisor of displaced persons camps in the American occupied zone of Germany from 1946 to 1950. Born on the Lower East Side of New York and raised in Brooklyn, Sorrin attended the City College of New York. Upon his graduation he found work with the Procurement Division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. While in Washington, D.C., Sorrin was recruited to work for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), an agency founded in 1943 to provide aid to countries in economic distress that needed basic commodities and to take care of the millions of displaced persons in postwar Europe. Because of his knowledge of Yiddish he was assigned to work with Jewish refugees in Europe. Sorrin received only about a month's worth of training before being sent to Europe aboard the Gripsholm early in 1946. In Paris, he received another two to three weeks of briefings and then was sent to Munich, where he became a supply officer for one of the UNRRA teams. UNRRA was responsible for administering the DP camps, including providing housing, health and welfare services, entertainment, and vocational training. It also was in charge of the operation of 23 volunteer welfare organizations, including the JDC, ORT and HIAS. Sorrin's team included staff drawn from the U.S., Switzerland, France and Belgium. His base of operations was at the Neu Freimann DP camp on the outskirts of Munich, but he served a number of camps in the region, as well as DPs living on their own in Munich. Sorrin became UNRRA director of the Munich region after the sudden departure of his boss in the spring of 1946. Sorrin's work involved constant traveling from camp to camp to discuss with UNRRA staff and camp administrators problems related to food, housing, education, health, immigration et al. After meeting with administrators, he typically held office hours for camp residents, who came to him for help with such problems as illness, being turned down for visas, and arrests for involvement in the black market. Sorrin spent considerable time in summary military courts in Munich trying to mitigate punishments for offenses committed by Jewish DPs. For a time he also served as a judge on an internal, Jewish DP court in Neu Freimann adjudicating cases between Jews. As one of the few Jewish camp directors, Sorrin became involved in the efforts of the Bricha to infiltrate Eastern European Jews into the American Zone of Germany and then get them and other DPs to Palestine aboard illegal immigrant ships. On at least two occasions he escorted transports of DPs from camps in Germany to France, where they were taken to southern ports and boarded on ships. He also helped Jewish DPs secure proper papers or alter their documents in such a way that would enable them to qualify for immigration to the U.S. under the restrictive measures that sought to keep them out. When UNRRA closed down in 1947 and transferred its operations to the International Refugee Organization (IRO), Sorrin was intimately involved in the transition and oversaw the closing of the Neu Freimann DP camp. In 1947 under the auspices of the IRO,
    Sorrin took over responsibility for the Foehrenwald DP camp and the Geretsried transit camp. Subsequently, he was also asked to take charge of the Feldafing camp. Sorrin remained in Germany until 1950. After returning to the U.S. he settled in Milwaukee, where he served as executive director of the Milwaukee Jewish Council for Community Relations and director of the Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith.

    [Sources: Sorrin, Saul, "Interview with Saul Sorrin," October 11, 1994, U.S. Holocaust Museum Oral History Project.]
    Record last modified:
    2015-05-26 00:00:00
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