Memorial to the Jewish Displaced Persons Camp at Zeilsheim, Germany

Zeilsheim (pronounced Saltz-heim) was a DP camp 12 miles west of Frankfurt in the American-
occupied zone. Zeilsheim's German homes (small townhouses, 2-3 stories) were requisitioned to
accommodate inhabitants of the DP camp. The streets and building complexes of Zeilsheim were
named after towns and kibbutzim in Palestine. Zeilsheim maintained 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 population
in the camp reached 3,570 in Oct. of 1946 and may have reached 5,000 Jews before discontinuation.

The Zeilsheim camp was not typical of other DP camps, because it was not a former Concentration
Camp site but a suburb where IG Farben chemical plant workers had lived. So Zeilsheim residents
actually had homes rather than barracks, but the conditions were very cramped. Supplies were
provided by UNRRA and American Jewish aid organizations. An autonomous society developed which
included elementary schools, a high school, religious institutions, political parties, youth organizations,
newspapers, and more. A publication called Zentrale Historische Kommission collected documents,
photos, and songs from the concentration camps and published them in a journal called Fun letztn
khurbn
, printed in Munich. A special section interviewed child survivors of the Holocaust. The DP
camp was seen by the survivors, understandably, as temporary housing. None of them wanted to stay.
Most of the survivors of the Zeilsheim Displaced Persons Camp went to America or Israel bet. '45 and '49.

Zeilsheim was also the site of many protests against British policy on Jewish immigration to Palestine. Gen.
Eisenhower's first advisor on Jewish affairs in the European Theatre of Operations, Judah Nadich,
made frequent visits to the camp in an effort to see that the basic requirements of DPs were met.
David Ben Gurion, then the chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, also visited the camp.
His personal inspection of Zeilsheim was a pivotal event in the lives of Jewish DPs. The camp
closed on Nov. 15, 1948, after a dispute between rabbinic authorities and the U.S. army. Rabbi Philip
Bernstein, Adviser on Jewish Affairs to U.S. military authorities in Germany and Austria, believed that
closing the camp would be cruel to the DPs, most of whom just had survived concentration camps.
But the U.S. Army wanted to return the houses to workers from the IG Farben plant in nearby Hechst.
After postponing the close of the camp until after the state of Israel was formed, the camp was
finally closed, but Holocaust survivors still protested the move. It was also called the Frankfurt DP camp.

Modern Zeilsheim.

The first refugees arrive at Zeilsheim, 1945.

Zeilsheim Memorial Plaque, spring 1946 dedication. It reads: "In Memory of our
Loved Ones, Murdered During the Nazi Regime."




Children at the Zeilsheim DP camp, undated.


A group at the Zeilsheim DP camp.
(This photo is my own. Please let me know if you use it.)


Dinner at the Zeilsheim DP camp.
(This photo is my own. Please let me know if you use it.)


Shoah survivors at the Zeilsheim DP camp. Can you identify anyone in the photo?
(This photo is my own. Please let me know if you use it.)


A wedding at the Zeilsheim DP camp.
(This photo is my own. Please let me know if you use it.)


(This photo is my own. Please let me know if you use it.)


(This photo is my own. Please let me know if you use it.) Israel Berkenwald, below Michel Drori.


(This photo is my own. Please let me know if you use it.)


(This photo is my own. Please let me know if you use it.)

Jewish survivors at Zeilsheim gathering for a speech. The Autobahn 66 road is in the background.

David Ben-Gurion visit to Zeilsheim DP camp, 1946.

Eleanor Roosevelt visit to Zeilsheim DP camp, undated.

Displaced persons in the camp meeting with UNRRA officers. They are posing in front
of the monument in the camp commemorating those murdered in the Holocaust. From 1946.


The entrance gate to the Zeilsheim DP camp during the campaign for the Zionist Congress
(election). On the gate are a banner in Hebrew: "Welcome David Ben-Gurion," banners in
Yiddish, including a welcome to Yitzhak Zuckerman, portraits of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and more.

Zionist youth group at the Memorial, undated.

Jewish DPs at Zeilsheim rally for free migration to Palestine, undated.

Survivors at Zeilsheim, undated.


Holocaust survivors Perla Blass and Gershon Grunbart at the Zeilsheim DP Camp.


Holocaust survivors Perla Blass, Gershon Grunbart, and friends at Zeilsheim.

LINKS

Zeilsheim DP Camp - More Photos:

- More Photos of the Zeilsheim DP Camp

Zeilsheim DP Camp - Articles:

- In 2010, Students of Darmstadt Explore DP Camp Zeilsheim
- Darmstadt Students Research Jewish DP Camp Zeilsheim
- "Rebuilding Jewish Lives in Postwar Germany" Excerpt on Zeilsheim DP Camp

Zeilsheim DP Camp - Oral History:

- Rose Wagner Testimony
- Footage from the DP camp (recorded by the Lev family)

Zeilsheim DP Camp - Survivors:

- Judah and Tauba Biterman
- Michael Finger Drori
- Sam Genirburg
- Majer and Manja Mulsztajn
- Sima Ya'akobowic (Yakobovich)



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