The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee – The JDC

The JDC, popularly known as the JOINT, was founded shortly after the start of World War I in 1914 in reaction to the dire need for assistance by Jewish communities in Palestine and in Eastern Europe. Henry Morgenthau, the then US ambassador to Turkey asked prominent Jewish-American leaders for fifty thousand dollars for immediate aid. Jacob Schiff and other prominent German-Jewish leaders formed the Central Relief Committee which soon after merged with similar committees organized by orthodox Jews and by socialist Jewish organizations, thus representing all the different Jewish political and religious affiliations, unified under the chairmanship of Felix Warburg. During WW I and in that post-war era, the JOINT was active in restoring communities and lending its support in social services, welfare, educational, medical, reconstruction, transportation, equipment to communities in Eastern Europe. During World War II, from its European headquarters in neutral Lisbon, under the aggressive and committed leadership of Dr. Joe Schwartz it channeled its aid programs and hands-on help to the endlessly rising needs and demands for its services and funding to survivors. As an American organization it was prohibited from any contacts with needed aid in territories occupied by the Nazis. It could only promise its future support as it did with the Kastner negotiations in Switzerland. After the war, the JOINT became an indispensable organization for the millions of survivors and displaced persons; the DP’s languishing in camps.

The SS hierarchy perceived the JOINT as the face and front of World Jewry might. The JOINT supported the illegal immigration into Palestine, the Aliya Bet and the breaking of the British naval blockades.  It cared for the illegal immigrants intercepted on the rickety ships and who were dragged by the British to imprisonment in Cyprus. After the British departure the JOINT assisted the various waves of Aliya to Israel from Arab lands, Ethiopia and later yet from Russia. In Eastern Europe the JOINT became involved in the rebuilding process of the destroyed Jewish communities.

Back to the Cast