A Talk with JDC Archives and David Nasaw: Holo­caust Sur­vivors in Exile in Ger­many after World War II

Monday, October 11, 2021


The suf­fer­ing of the Holo­caust sur­vivors did not end with the ces­sa­tion of hos­til­i­ties in Europe in May of 1945, as doc­u­ments, cor­re­spon­dence, and reports from Ger­many in the JDC Archives make abun­dant­ly clear. A quar­ter of a mil­lion who had sur­vived the death, con­cen­tra­tion, and labor camps or spent the war years in hid­ing or in the Sovi­et Union would after the Nazi defeat be forced to spend anoth­er three to five years in qua­si-incar­cer­a­tion in dis­placed per­sons camps in Ger­many. While oth­er east­ern Euro­pean dis­placed per­sons would even­tu­al­ly be reset­tled in lands suf­fer­ing from post­war labor short­ages, no nation, includ­ing the Unit­ed States, was will­ing to accept more than a hand­ful of Jew­ish sur­vivors. When in June, 1948, the Unit­ed States Con­gress passed leg­is­la­tion per­mit­ting the immi­gra­tion of dis­placed per­sons, the law was writ­ten in such a way as to deny visas to 90% of the Jew­ish dis­placed persons.

Mak­ing full use of the volu­mi­nous and invalu­able resources in the JDC Archives, David Nasaw, the author of The Last Mil­lion: Europe’s Dis­placed Per­sons from World War to Cold War, will tell the sto­ry of this trag­ic and too often over­looked chap­ter in Jew­ish history.

David Nasaw is the author of The Last Mil­lion: Europe’s Dis­placed Per­sons from World War to Cold War, pub­lished by Pen­guin Press in 2020; The Patri­arch, select­ed by the New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of the Year and a 2013 Pulitzer Prize Final­ist in Biog­ra­phy; Andrew Carnegie, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, the recip­i­ent of the New-York His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety’s Amer­i­can His­to­ry Book Prize and a 2007 Pulitzer Prize Final­ist in Biog­ra­phy; and The Chief, which was award­ed the Ban­croft Prize for His­to­ry and the J. Antho­ny Lukas Book Prize for Non­fic­tion. He is a past pres­i­dent of the Soci­ety of Amer­i­can His­to­ri­ans, and until 2019, he served as the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Pro­fes­sor of His­to­ry at the CUNY Grad­u­ate Cen­ter. Nasaw earned his Ph.D. from Colum­bia University.