The Study of the Human Past

“The role of JOINT in postwar Greece”

Tzafleris Nikos

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Summary of Research Proposal

The research proposal focuses on the role of the American Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC known mainly as JOINT) in Greece after the end of the Second World War. Nazi Germany systematically exterminated the Jews of Europe destroying most of the Jewish communities. In the postwar chaos of the Greek civil war, the assistance of the Greek state for the reconstruction of the Jewish communities was practically impossible and JOINT came to fill in this gap. JOINT contributed in organizing and handling the aid of the American Jews to their fellow Jews in Europe, both at the level of reconstituting the community life and at the level of rebuilding their properties, religious and social institutions. The research will examine what was the role of JOINT in Greece to realize this effort. What were JOINT’s relations with the local Jewish communities? Where did JOINT stand in the network of the international humanitarian organizations, such as the Red Cross and UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration), and the Jewish organizations, such as the Central British Fund, the Jewish Relief Unit, World ORT and the World Jewish Congress, which offered their assistance to the Greek Jews? What was JOINT’s central policy in Europe and particularly in Greece, where it was formed under the circumstances imposed by the postwar and civil war period? What was the role of JOINT’s local personnel in the strategy it followed in Greece? How did the Greek Jewish communities view the aid of JOINT and/or its intervention in their internal affairs? And what was JOINT’s position in the matter of migration of Jews to Palestine?
All the above will be analyzed within the framework set by the postwar political scene in Greece dominated by the civil war. Although the focus of the research will be on the postwar role of JOINT, it is necessary to elaborate on its humanitarian work in Greece during the interwar years and during the Second World War in order to better understand its role, its course and the changes in its actions. The research will use primary archival material which will be collected by field research at JOINT’s archive in New York and it will be used along with archival material already collected and studied through field research in London and Jerusalem. Moreover, for the purpose of the research, interviews with Holocaust survivors will be conducted and other oral interviews from archives of oral history, such as the ones at Yad Vashem and of the USC Shoah Foundation will be used. Last but not least, JOINT’s contribution to the reconstruction of the Greek Jewish communities has received little research interest so far and the present research aims at filling this gap.

This research project was funded by the Research Centre for the Humanities (RCH), with the support of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation.

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