Association of Jews Ex-Prisoners of Nazi Concentration Camps Letter
Association of Jews Ex Prisoners of Nazi Concentration Camps letter written at the ‘Asociacion de Hebreos Ex-Internados de los Campos de Concentracion’ in Havana, Cuba
Translation of the Yiddish handwriting:
The letter contains greetings from Association of Jews Ex Prisoners of Nazi Concentration Camps in Havana to ORT or Organization for Rehabilitation through Training (an old prewar organization for Jewish productivization and re-training in “productive” more manual skills) also in Havana. This organization was particularly active world-wide after the war to help survivors get back to “normal” life. In this letter, the Association sends their greetings and thanks to ORT on the occasion of a celebratory evening marking the end of ORT school year. They mention the importance of productivization and jobs for return to “normal way of life.” They end with wishes for many more years of ORT activities.
A Short History of ORT:
ORT is a global education network driven by Jewish values. It promotes education and training in communities worldwide. Its activities throughout its history have spanned more than 100 countries and five continents. It was founded in 1880 in Saint Petersburg to provide professional and vocational training for young Jews.
During World War II, ORT continued to serve Jewish communities, including those under Nazi occupation. In the Warsaw Ghetto, the German authorities gave ORT permission to open vocational training courses. Those courses continued throughout the war and until the liquidation of the Ghetto. They served as a template for similar ORT programs in other Jewish centers like Łódź and Kaunas.
After the end of World War II, ORT established rehabilitation programs for the survivors. The first one in Germany was started in August 1945 in the Landsberg DP camp. Vocational training centers were set up in 78 DP (Displaced Persons) Camps in Germany, and nearly 85,000 people acquired professions and the tools they would need to rebuild their lives. Jacob Olejski, a Dachau survivor who had previously organized ORT in Lithuania, was the driving force behind ORT’s revival in Germany. After 1948 he organized ORT in the newly founded state of Israel.
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