Report on the ORT Activities in Italy, 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 report from Italy show the organization at the height of its activities.
Work with DPs in Italy started only towards the end of 1946, a year later than in Germany and Austria. The report shows the extremely rapid increase of ORTs work among refugees in Italy. It also reflects the growing disillusionment of DPs in Italy turning to vocational training as they were gradually realising how hard getting into Palestine would be.
Like reports from other countries covering this period, the report testifies to the difficulty of setting up schools in the hopeless financial conditions of DP camps. Lack of organization, changes in leadership of the camps. It writes about problems encountered with transportation of staff and equipment from Switzerland, apathy among the survivors, problems in cooperation with UNRRA, which was at the point undergoing structural changes. In a very moving passage, the report states that: ‘The fact is that the overwhelming majority of refugees are complaining of hunger- and with a reason too. As a result of the undernourishment, even those willing to work and to learn, choose the easiest trades, and decline the working of metal and wood on the grounds of their obvious physical weakness. If a remedy cannot be found, all the efforts of ORT will be in vain.’
In its final part, the report describes the spread of ORT’s work from the confinement of DP camps to large cities where it worked with local youth from poor Jewish-Italian families.