The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People Jerusalem (CAHJP) – The Papers of the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO) – New York – Adminstration Files

Records Related to the Salvage and Restitution of Looted Jewish Cultural Property

The papers of the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO) contain a vast amount of documents related to questions of salvage and restitution of Nazi looted Jewish cultural property. The two lists presented here cover an important segment of the material in the collection and reflect a work in progress.

The first list describes the documents of four folders which are regarded in historiography as the most significant papers relating to the issue of cultural property in the JRSO collection. These folders (923a−d) reflect the activities of the New York based Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc. (JCR), which from 1947 acted as cultural agent of JRSO. The material ranges from 1949 to 1976 and illustrates the main practical and legal difficulties the two organizations faced concerning the disposition of salvaged books and ceremonial objects from Europe to Jewish communities and organizations worldwide. Reports, minutes and memoranda found in these folders document administration, networks and operational practices of JRSO and JCR. Due to the specific set up of JCR as a corporation of the most important Jewish organizations of the time, the material features correspondence with such different agents and organizations as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the World Jewish Congress and various other Jewish and Israeli institutions, among them the Hebrew University and the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem. Additional correspondence relates to American governmental authorities and their representatives in the U.S zone of occupation in Germany. These materials contain letters written by Hannah Arendt, Salo W. Baron, Benjamin Ferencz, Saul Kagan, Moses Leavitt, Ernst G. Lowenthal, Mordecai Narkiss, Eli Rock, Shlomo Shunami, Joshua Starr and many others.

The second list highlights some additional papers from different parts of the JRSO collection relating to the restitution of looted cultural property found in Germany. Most of them reflect further aspects of the relations between JRSO and JCR. They document administrative issues and financial affairs of JCR and refer to the official legal status both of JCR as a trustee organization and of JRSO as a successor organization to German Jewry. Some of the assembled material concerns specific allocations of JCR in Germany and sheds light on the different agents involved in the cultural restitution process. Nonetheless, the documented material in this list is still fractional and is meant to provide a first impression of the manifold materials yet to be discovered in the larger context of the rich JRSO collection.

Record List – JRSO/JCR

Record List – JRSO (general)

Document Sample from the Collection:

1. Memorandum of Agreement between the U.S. Military Government in Occupied Germany and the JRSO and JCR (JRSO/NY 923a)

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Download essay by Bilha Shilo (Hebrew)

2. Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc., Special Meeting of the Board of Directors, December 19, 1949, (Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, M0580: Box 231, Folder 15)

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Download essay by Ray Schrire (English)

Essays by Students who Participated in the Project

To the website of the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People Jerusalem