Post-World War II: Individual Dispalaced Persons Camps

Fuigure 1. Here Jewish DPs at Zeilsheim rally for free immigration to Palestine. The photograph is undated, but was probably taken about 1947. Notice the boys and older youth in uniform. We are not sure what kind of group that was, but was a Zionist youth group. They do not look like Scouts.

The initial Transit Camps gradually turned into DP camps, mostly located in Austria and Germany. This was where people from all over Europe had been brought to support the German war effort. Millions of people had been brought into the Reich under various circumstances. Many of these people were able to quickly return to their home countries. This was the case for people from Western European countries. The distances were rather short, the transportation links being reestablished, and the governments there able to aid in repatriation. Eastern Europe was a different matter. conditions were worse there and many people were reluctant even afraid to return with the Communists seizing power. Jews were another special problem. Most did not have communities to which they could return. The NAZIs had destroyed Jewish communities throughout Europe, especially In Eastern Europe. And some Jews attempting to return were attacked in Eastern Europe. Many Jews wanted to go to Palestine, but wee blocked by the British trying to appease the Arabs. Thus Jews unlike many others were stuck in the camps. At first the camps were organized by nationality, but it was soon found that Jews had to be treated differently, either in separate camps or in separate facilities in the different camps. We are collecting information on individual camps. Jewish camps were not established in the Soviet sector because Stalin did want to recognize the fact that the Jews were especially targeted by the Germans. Most of these caps were located in Germany or Austria (which had been annexed by the NAZIs and part of the reich during the war), but not all. We note some camps in Poland, but know little about them.


Bad Reichenhall


Deggendorf was the site of a displaced persons camp for Jewish refugees. It housed some 2,000 refugees. Many of the refugee residents were survivors of the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in nearby Czechoslovakia. As in all these camps, the refugees set out establishing a cultural life while in the camp. There were two newspapers: The Deggendorf Center Review and Cum Ojfboj. Also established were a theater group, synagogue, mikvah, kosher kitchen, and other amenities. The camp authorities issued its own currency known as the Deggendorf Dollar. The camp closed on June 15, 1949.


Eschwege is a town in Hesse along the river Werra. It's claim to fame is a famous 4-day music and drinking festival called the Johannisfest. It attracts thousands visitors annually. After the German surrender (May 1945), Eschwege was in the American occupation zone. The U.S. Military Government established a DP camp to accommodate Jewish refugees. The camp cared for 3,300 refugees. It was closed in 1949.


Feldafing was the first DP camp exclusively for Jewish refugees. The camp was located at the Bavarian town of Feldafing, in Starnberg district. Bavaria was in the American occupation zone. It was at first exclusively for liberated Jewish concentration camp prisoners. It later accommodated Jewish refugees from the Soviet occupation zone and Eastern Europe. The camp was set up in Feldafing's Höhenberg area and immediate area.


Föhrenwald was one of the largest DP camps in Europe and unlike the other camps did not close until 1957, being the the last to close. It was located in Wolfratshausen in Bavaria. The camp facilities were originally built by German authorities in 1939 to house IG Farben construction workers. It was used for foreign slave laborers brought to the Reich during the War. The U.S. Army appropriated the camp to house international refugees (June 1945). The camp's initial population included Jewish refugees from the Baltics, Hungary, and Yugoslavia. General Eisenhower ordered that Föhrenwald be made an exclusively Jewish DP camp, after he had found living conditions at the Feldafing DP camp unacceptable (October 2, 1945).


Fürth is a small city located in northern Bavaria, Middle Franconia district. Along with the larger cities of Nuremberg and Erlangen as well as other minor cities, it forms the Middle-Franconian conurbation or metropolitan area. American military authorities established a DP camp for Jewish refugees at Fürth called Finkenschlag (1945). It was a relatively small camp, housing some 850 refugees. It was closed July 1950. .



Landsberg am Lech is a town in the southwest of Bavaria, about 50 km west of Munich and 35 km south of Augsburg. It is the capital of Landsberg am Lech district. The Landsberg camp was a NAZI concentration camp. At its peak it held more than 5,000 inmates (October 1944). Landsberg was not a death camp, but at the ebnd of te War, there wee a lot of Jewish prisoners there whi gad survived the SS death marches from camps in tn Poland. The American 12th Armored Division reached it (April 27, 1945) and were appalled by what they found. American crooner Tony Bennett was among the soldiers who liberated the camp. General Taylor had the news media record the atrocities. He ordered local German civilians to come into the camp and see for themselves what the NAZIs had done so no one could deny it afterwards, They and the guards were forced to bury the dead m bare-handed. After liberation, American authorities turned the camp into a a DP camp. Most of DPs were Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union and the Baltics. Landsberg became one of the most influential DP camps in the Sh'erit ha-Pletah. A Yiddish-language newspaper (The Yiddishe Zeitung) began publishing. Religious schools and organizations to promote Jewish religious observance were set up. Landsberg is the camp depicted in the 'Band of Brothers' mini-series (Episode 9: Why We Fight). Several important Jewish leaders emerged from the camp, including Samuel Gringauz, who became the chairman of the Council of the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the U.S. zone. The camp also served as the headquarters for the Jewish Education and Training Organisation (ORT). The camp closed on October 15, 1950.


Zeilsheim DP Camp was located 12 miles west of Frankfurt in the American-occupied zone of Germany. It was different than most DP camps. Zeilsheim was a small town, essentially a residential suburb for the workers of an IG Farben plant. The homes were small 2-3 story townhouses. The U.S. Army requisitioned them to accommodate inhabitants for a DP camp specifically to accommodate Jewish refugees. There was no doubt where the refugees wanted to go. The refugees renamed the streets and building complexes after towns and kibbutzim in Palestine. Zeilsheim quickly developed an active cultural life. The refugees established a theatrical group, a synagogue, a jazz orchestra, a sports club (Chasmonai), and several schools, including an ORT school. The camp set up a library with some 500 books. Two Yiddish-language newspapers circulated: Unterwegs (In Transit) and Undzer Mut (Our Courage). The camp held 3,570 refugees (October 1946) and may have served 5,000 Jews before it was closed. With the creation of Israel the British restrictions on immigration tom Palestine ended and like most of the other DP camp, Zeilsheim was closed (November 15, 1948).


Rothschild Hospital

The Rothschild Hospital was founded in 1872 by the Rothschild family in Vienna, Austria. It served as a clinic for neurological disorders, with among others Viktor Frankl as its leaders. After the war, it was a hospital for sick and infirm displaced persons in the American zone of occupation in Austria. It housed as many as 600 refugees.


Salzburg is an important city in western Austria and the capital of the federal state of Salzburg. It was at the time of World War II a part of the Greater German Reich. Austrians had enthusiastically welcomed the NAZI Anschluss (March 1938). The city became a target in the Allied strategic bombing campaign. Allied bomb raids destroyed 7,600 houses and killed 550 inhabitants. A total of 15 strikes hit Salzburg, destroying some 45 percent of the city's buildings especially around Salzburg train station which was the focus of the attacks. Although the town's bridges and the dome of the cathedral were demolished, much of its beautiful Baroque architecture survived. remained intact. American troops reached Salzburg (May 5, 1945), just before the German surrender. Salzburg became the center of the American-occupied area in Austria. American authorities set up several DP camps in and around Salzburg, including Riedenburg, Camp Herzl (Franz-Josefs-Kaserne), Camp Mülln, Bet Bialik, Bet Trumpeldor, and New Palestine.


We notice some DP camps in Poland, but have been able to find little information about them. We suspect tat they were mostly located in the German areas assigned to Poland, but can not yet confirm that. One problem was that Polish Jews who survived the War could often not return home. Their communities had been destroyed and Poles were not welcoming. We are unsure what policies the Polish authoritiesadopted concerning resettling Jews. In addition, wht had been eastern Poland was now part of the Soviet Union. There was also a huge problems with rhe Poles deported by the Soviets from what had been eastern Poland before the War. We notice alot of information set up for the Poles fleeing the Soviet Union in Irn, East Africa, Britain, and other countries, but very little about the DP/refugee camps open in Poland after the war. We notice some were still open in 1947 and are not sure when they were closed. We are not sure if these were UNRRA camps, but believe that they received American supplies. How long this continued and how they were affected by the developing Cold War we are not sure.


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Created: 10:11 PM 10/13/2013
Spell chrcked: 4:58 PM 10/16/2013
Last updated: 7:52 AM 12/13/2015