Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Books for Jews in Displaced Persons Camps

There is a story told about the Klausenberger Rebbe when he was in the DP camps after the Holocaust. He saw a little girl walking around without socks. He began to berate this girl for her lack of proper attire. She responded: rabbi how can I worry about socks when I do not have food to eat. In the end he gave the girl his socks. He, the rabbi, agreed to do without and give up on his honor for the sake of a little girl he had never met.

I was reminded of this story after looking at a pamphlet published by the World Jewish Congress in May 1945. This is in the days after the defeat of Nazi Germany as camp survivors were being placed in DP camps and news of the Holocaust was reaching the world at large. In the back is an ad for aid for Jewish refugees, though it is not for food and medicine.

Books for liberated Jews in Europe in Yiddish and Hebrew and books of Jewish interest in any other language are urgently wanted - Please help in sending all the books you can and we will transmit them to the Jewish libraries on the continent and to the assembly camps - Joint Book Supply Committee under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress (British Section) 55 New Cavendish Street London W1.

One can be shocked at the naivete of the bureaucrats at the British Section of the World Jewish Congress to set up a committee simply to make sure that Jewish refugees in DP camps had books to read. One assumes that most of the people in these camps had other things on their minds besides for reading. Then again what better way for the people of the book to pick up from the greatest disaster in their history then grab a good book in Yiddish, Hebrew or any other language.   

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