Released in September 1945, the Harrison Report exposed the deplorable conditions of Jewish survivors in Displaced Persons (DP) camps. In addition to basic needs such as adequate food, housing, and medical care, Jewish DPs faced other profound challenges that ranged from the psychological to the practical. US Army and UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) officials often had to improvise with the scant resources available to them. Jewish officials often felt a particular responsibility for those under their care—and a particular frustration with the predicament of under-resourced DP camps.1
The document featured here is a reflection of the frustration that many American Jewish soldiers felt with respect to the care of Jewish survivors. This letter from Barbara Falik to the editor of the PM Standard includes copies of correspondence from her husband, Sidney Falik.2 He was a member of a US Army unit stationed at the DP camp in Landsberg at the end of the war, and he struggled to improve the plight of the Jewish DPs he encountered.3
The portions of his letters Barbara reproduced for the PM Standard reveal Sidney's frustration with the situation. The Faliks' efforts to draw attention to the situation of Jewish DPs were part of a broader campaign encouraged by US Army chaplain Abraham Klausner.4 Klausner had participated in the liberation of Dachau in May 1945, and he had seen the suffering of its prisoners first-hand. This experience inspired Klausner to become a vocal advocate on the part of Jewish DPs. He helped compile lists of names and relatives, promoted Jewish DP immigration to Palestine, became involved in Jewish historical commissions, and publicized the plight of Jewish DPs. In fact, Klausner actively encouraged Jewish soldiers like Falik to write home about the conditions that they witnessed among the survivors.
Barbara Falik's cover letter to the PM Standard reflects her husband's frustration with the situation of Jewish DPs in occupied Germany. She writes:
"We, the Americans, the liberators, the Democracy, the ever-loving people of freedom permit conditions to exist in Germany so that the Nazi—they are, every one of them, can do what he wants to, have plenty to eat, and can laugh up his sleeve at the Sucker Americans, while the DPs wonder when they will be finally liberated by death."