Zeilsheim became famous for its camp created by the Allies to hold Displaced
Persons and exiles after World War II, and in 1946 it was visited by Israeli
prime minister David Ben Gurion and former American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
A small monument in the park behind the city hall is dedicated to the memory
of this community.
a Jewish theatrical group, a synagogue, a jazz orchestra, a sports club
named "Chasmonai," and
a number of schools, including an ORT school. The camp had a library with
approximately 500 books, and circulated two Yiddish newspapers: Unterwegs
(In Transit) and Undzer Mut (Our Courage). The Jewish population in the
camp reached approximately 3,570 in October of 1946.
"Zeilsheim was the site of many protests against British policy on Jewish
immigration to Palestine. Judah Nadich, General Eisenhower's first advisor
on Jewish affairs in the European Theatre of Operations, frequently visited
the camp in an effort to see that the basic requirements of DPs were being
met. David Ben Gurion, then the chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency
(and future Prime Minister of Israel), also visited the DP camp. His personal
inspection of Zeilsheim was a pivotal event in the lives of Jewish DPs. The
camp closed on November 15, 1948, after a piece de resistance during which
the U.S. Army wanted to return the houses to workers from the IG Farben plant
in nearby Hechst. Rabbi Bernstein believed that it would be cruel to inconvenience
the DPs in order to accommodate Germans, especially since nearly all the
camp residents were concentration camp survivors. He warned that the evacuation
would only be accomplished through force. Thus, the army postponed the idea
until July 1948, when it renewed its plan after the establishment of Israel.
Conceding to the pleas of the camp committee, the army postponed the transfer
date until November 15, 1948, but survivors still protested the move." for
more, see: http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/dp/map.htm
United Nations Relief
and Rehabilitation Administration Archives Record Group: PAG 4 Box
4: District 2: Wetzlar, Zeilsheim
Kosher food in camp: http://www.tzemachdovid.org/vaadhatzala/kosher.shtml
7/30/07 Hi Olga,
My family lived in the displaced persons camp in Zeilsheim for
three years, where my grandfather was the photographer for the
camp newspaper. I'm interested in visiting the locations in those
photos. I realize there is almost no physical evidence remaining
there, but I would still like to know the street locations of where
I am wondering if you know of any maps of the Zeilsheim camp. Any information
you have would be appreciated.
Olga, yes, we have copies of my grandfather's photographs.
They are also accessible through the Holocaust Museum in Washington,
DC, as well as in a book of his photo journal called Das Robinson
Album, which was published via the Fritz Bauer Institut in 1998. I only
have one copy of the book, but I can see if there are still more available... Paul
Paul Amitai put together a movie: http://paulamitai.com/#In-Between-States