Fohrenwald

Foehrenwald was one of the largest DP centres in Germany.It was based in former workers housing and known for its relatively good conditions of living. According to ORT Bulletin:

‘At one time Fohrenwald was a garden city for industrial workers but under Hitler became a military base and prison camp. IRO made it into a resettlement centre for DPs awaiting emigration. The majority of inhabitants are Eastern Jews and one is reminded of old Polish or Galician market towns.'[1]

The camp was established in June 1945 and soon its Jewish population grew to about 4000 DPs. Almost 500 of them were children under the age of six. Due to its superior infrastructure, Fohrenwald quickly became the centre for Jewish children and families in the American zone. The camp had a vibrant community life organised by the DPs. It had its own police and fire services and a hospital. Fohrenwald’s educational system included a number of secular schools as well as the largest Yeshiva in the American zone of Germany. There were also a number of kibbutzim preparing its members for emigration to Palestine. In 1952 all DPs remaining in Germany, a vast majority of them too old or ill to start a new life abroad were transferred to Fohrenwald.The camp closed in 1957- almost twelve years after the end of the Second World War.

ORT started it’s activities in Fohrewald in November 1945 by opening the  first driver-training school in the US Zone. Soon after, the school hired fifteen instructors and enrolled 265 students in classes including tailoring, corset making  locksmiths training, shoe and boot making, carpentry and radio technology and electrical technology. There was also a beautician school and a course for nurses conducted in the camp’s hospital.  The school played an important part in the communal life of the camp.  Students in the tailoring class for example as part of their training made wedding dresses which could be rented by the camps inhabitants.The first director of the ORT school in Fohrenwald was engineer Josef Goldberg. He was succeeded by Jacob Fuchs, Georg Kalinsky and Mathias Siegman. ORT continued its work in Fohrenwald  almost until the closing of the camp. The last courses to be offered were watch repair, tailoring and radio repair. In the summer of 1956 they were  transferred to Munich.

[1] World ORT Archive: ORT Bulletin vol. V no.4 (March- April 1952) p.4