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David Ben-Gurion addresses the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the U.S. occupied zone at its first meeting in Munich.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 80979

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    David Ben-Gurion addresses the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the U.S. occupied zone at its first meeting in Munich.
    David Ben-Gurion addresses the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the U.S. occupied zone at its first meeting in Munich.


    David Ben-Gurion addresses the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the U.S. occupied zone at its first meeting in Munich.
    George Kadish/Zvi Kadushin
    1946 January 27
    Munich, [Bavaria] Germany
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of George Kadish/Zvi Kadushin
    Event History
    The Central Committee of the Liberated Jews in the U.S. Zone of Germany was the official representative body of displaced Jews in the American zone of Germany from 1945 to 1950. The Central Committee was founded on July 1, 1945 at the first meeting of representatives of Jewish DP camps held in Feldafing. It came into being through the joint effort of Dr. Zalman Grinberg, the head of the St. Ottilien hospital DP camp and former director of the Kovno ghetto hospital, and Rabbi Abraham Klausner, an American reform rabbi serving as a chaplain in the U.S. Army. The newly created body established its headquarters in Munich (located first at the Deutsches Museum and later at 3 Sieberstrasse) and set up seven sub-committees to formulate policy and coordinate activity in the areas of education, culture, religious affairs, clothing, nutrition, emigration and information. The Feldafing meeting was quickly followed by a conference in St. Ottilien on July 24. Its purpose was to expand the representative base of the Central Committee and to draw public attention to the plight of Jewish survivors in DP camps, so as to put pressure on Britain to open Palestine to DP immigration. The 94 delegates from German and Austrian camps issued a resolution demanding the abrogation of the British White Paper, which prevented them from leaving the camps and starting their lives afresh in their own homeland. In addition, they called for the recognition of the Jewish DPs as a distinct group meriting their own camps, in which they would govern themselves. The Central Committee failed in its bid to incorporate the Jewish DPs of Austria and the British zone of Germany into their organizational structure. However, it continued to represent the largest group of Jewish DPs and eventually won recognition by the American Army of Occupation (September 7, 1946) as "the legal and democratic representation of the liberated Jews in the American zone." In the five years of its existence, the Central Committee convened three formal congresses: Munich, January 27-29, 1946; Bad Reichenhall, February 25-28, 1947; and Bad Reichenhall, March 30-April 2, 1948. Dr. Zalman Grinberg served as the Chairman of the Central Committee from its inception until his immigration to Palestine in 1946. He was succeeded by his deputy, David Treger (another Kovno ghetto survivor), who was elected Chairman at both the second and third congresses. The Central Committee was involved in every aspect of Jewish DP life, either independently or in conjunction with one or more of the Jewish welfare agencies operating in the area. Through its constituent departments the Central Committee played a central role in education, culture, religious affairs, historical documentation, employment and training, supply and distribution, politics and public relations, family tracing and immigration, legal affairs and restitution.

    [Sources: Bauer, Yehuda. "The Organization of Holocaust Survivors," Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 8 (1970); Hyman, Abraham S. The Undefeated, Jerusalem, 1993; Mankowitz, Zev. "The Formation of She'erit Hapleita,"Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 20 (1990); Schwarz, Leo.The Redeemers, New York, 1953]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    USHMM (Restricted)
    Copyright: Exclusively with provenance
    Provenance: George Kadish/Zvi Kadushin
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Irving Heymont
    Source Record ID: Collections: 2004.80

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Artifact Photographer
    Max Reid
    David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973), Zionist leader who became the first prime minister of the State of Israel. Born in Plonsk, Poland, Ben-Gurion was a Zionist from his early youth. He was educated at a Hebrew school established by his father, an ardent Zionist, and by his mid-teens, Ben-Gurion was in charge of the local Zionist youth group known as Ezra, whose members spoke only Hebrew among themselves. At the age of 18 he became a teacher in a Warsaw Jewish school and joined the Socialist-Zionist Poalei Tzion movement. He immigrated to Palestine in 1906, where he took part in the creation of the first agricultural workers' commune (which evolved into the kvutzah and finally the kibbutz), and helped establish the Jewish self-defense group, Hashomer (The Watchman). Following the outbreak of World War I he was deported by the Ottoman authorities. Ben-Gurion traveled on behalf of the Socialist-Zionist cause to New York, where he met and married Paula Monbesz, a fellow Poalei Tzion activist. He returned to Palestine in the uniform of the Jewish Legion, a new Jewish unit in the British Army. Ben-Gurion was one of the founders of the Histadrut (the General Federation of Labor) in Palestine and was its secretary-general from 1921 to 1935. In 1935 he also became chairman of the Zionist Executive and of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, holding both posts up to 1948. Ben-Gurion spent much of the first two years of World War II in the U.S., where he worked to mobilize American Jewry's support for a resolution calling for Palestine to be opened for large-scale Jewish immigration and, after the war, to become a Jewish commonwealth under Jewish authority. This resolution (the Biltmore Program) was adopted in May 1942 at a conference of American Zionists in New York. From the end of 1942, Ben-Gurion took part in organizing the Yishuv for rescue operations, but he left political action in the hands of the Jewish Agency departments. He was, on the whole, skeptical about the chances of success for rescue efforts, especially after the failure of the Bermuda Conference of April 1943 and the Joel Brand "blood for trucks" negotiations in the summer of 1944, and therefore focused on what he considered to be the long-term political solutions to the root causes of the Holocaust. In the immediate postwar period, Ben-Gurion was very influential in molding the Jewish displaced persons in Europe into a dynamic force for the Zionist cause. During his three tours of the DP camps, in October 1945, and in January and October 1946, Ben-Gurion invigorated and inspired the DPs by addressing them not as powerless victims, but as partners in a national struggle. On May 14, 1948 Ben-Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel. He served as both prime minister and defense minister in the subsequent War of Independence. In late 1953, Ben-Gurion left the government and retired to Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev. He returned to political life after the Knesset elections in 1955, assuming the post of defense minister and later the premiership. In June 1963 Ben-Gurion resigned as prime minister, but remained active politically. In June 1970, Ben-Gurion retired from political life and returned to Sde Boker where he died in 1973.

    [Source: Gutman, Israel (ed.). Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Macmillan, 1990, pp.180-182; "David Ben-Gurion." The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. Jewish Virtual Library (14 March 2004)]
    Record last modified:
    2006-08-11 00:00:00
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