Experience: Feldafing DP Camp

Sarah Cwagenberg
Genia Greener
Isaac Greener
Hela Jutkiewicz
David Kahan
Feldafing was the first all-Jewish DP camp and hosted a large and important community of survivors. Originally a summer camp for Hitler Youth, Feldafing was located 20 miles southwest of Munich in the American zone of occupationIn 1946, about 4,000 Jews lived at Feldafing and by Passover 1951, 1,585 Jewish DPs remained in the camp. The camp became a model for implementing the suggested policy toward Jewish survivors. 

The camp consisted of stone and wooden barracks as well as individual homes requisitioned from Germans. Though the U.S. Army originally opened the camp on May 1, 1945, primarily to house 3,000 Hungarian Jews, the camp housed many non-Jewish concentration camp survivors until July 1945. At that time, American chaplain Abraham Klausner played a significant role in convincing the commandants of Dachau and Feldafing to empty Feldafing of its non-Jewish Polish and Hungarian DPs and replace them with the remaining Jewish survivors from Dachau

Educational and religious life flourished in Feldafing. In addition to Feldafing's secular elementary and high school systems, the camp's religious community founded several schools, including a Talmud Torah, a yeshiva, and several seminaries. Feldafing also had a rabbinical council that supported its religious office, an agency that held considerable influence within the camp. The camp's extensive library also had a noteworthy religious book collection. Secular instruction was available for adults.

Housed in a separate kinderblock of 450 children and adolescents, many of Feldafing's youngsters organized kibbutzim, both secular and religious. Several newspapers were published, as well as supplementary magazines. Camp residents also organized an orchestra

General Dwight D. Eisenhower personally inspected the living conditions of Feldafing in September 1945. In the autumn of 1945, the first all-Jewish hospital in the German DP camps was founded at Feldafing with 1,000 beds. The hospital, as well as additional housing, was a direct result of Eisenhower's visit to the camp. 

David Ben-Gurion's initial visit to the camp in October 1945 was an important boost of confidence to the population of Feldafing. Feldafing also marked the site of the first elected Jewish camp committee. Feldafing's camp committee was subdivided into several offices, including staff for housing, provisions, economics, sanitation, culture, and legal matters. The strong camp court launched a project to codify laws for the camp in 1946.

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