Report on the ORT Activities in Germany, August 1946- July 1947

The attached report was submitted to the meeting of the Central Board of the World ORT Union in Paris in July 1947. The question of aid to the displaced persons in Germany was the focus of the meeting.

The aim of June 1947 ORT report was to undertake a seemingly impossible task of describing on a few pages the immense extent of its work among displaced persons in Germany.

The period between 1946 and 1947 was above all the time of setting up the practical framework of ORT's functioning in Germany. Agreements with UNRRA and with the military authorities created the legal conditions necessary to ORT activity. Later, an agreement was concluded with the Central Committee of the Jews in Germany. At the same time transport of tools and materials from Canada and Switzerland were arranged and additional members of staff were employed.

When it comes to ORT’s extensive work in the American zone, the report provides mainly general information. The section on the British zone, on the other hand, concentrates on a few important establishments- large school in Belsen and Hannover, training farm in Ahlem and marine training establishment in Neustadt.

The report discusses various aspects  of evolution of the courses in Germany. The most visible factor is probably introduction of new trades- including refrigerator assembly and manufacture of medical instruments, silver and nickel plating and glassblowing.  It also looks at the creation of previously non-existent links between the DPs and the German community living in proximity of the camps. One of its manifestations was  introduction of the Apprenticeship Placement Service which led to placement of Jewish DPs in workshops of non-Jewish artisans where they could master their trade or learn a trade not taught in ORT schools.

On the other side, the report shows, as it says ‘almost insurmountable obstacles and difficulties’   encountered by schools’ organizers- the most important of which was hunger prevalent among the trainees and discusses the frantic search for ways to supplement meagre rations of both students and instructors.

The conference issued a statement calling the attention of all the Jewish world to the plight of Holocaust survivors in Germany and requested their aid in providing them with material and spiritual help.