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Song from Deggendorf DP camp

Deggendorf song 1945
US Holocaust Memorial Museum

After the collapse of Nazi Germany in May 1945, Allied forces established Displaced Persons (DP) camps to accommodate the millions of people who had been incarcerated in concentration camps or who had been brought to Germany and Austria as forced laborers. Many survivors of Nazi persecution were in desperate need of extensive assistance. Meeting the immediate hygienic, medical, and nutritional needs of the survivors were enormous tasks. Allied authorities followed a policy of returning DPs to their homelands whenever possible.

Many Jewish survivors were in especially poor physical health and could not return to their homes or their old lives. Some encountered antisemitism from former neighbors who had taken possession of their houses after they had been deported. Many discovered that they were the only member of their family still alive. Large numbers of Jewish DPs wished to leave Europe to start new lives in Palestine, but British immigration quotas prevented this.

Jewish survivors initially lived side by side with non-Jewish DPs and did not receive special consideration for the particularly brutal treatment they had endured. In summer 1945, however, a critical inspection report by a former US immigration official named Earl G. Harrison spurred the creation of specifically Jewish DP camps designed to meet the unique needs of Jewish survivors. These camps attempted to address the physical, cultural, occupational, and spiritual needs of their inhabitants. The Harrison Report was highly influential in establishing these camps, where survivors could begin to rebuild a sense of Jewish identity and community after the Holocaust.1 Soon, Jewish theater, musical performances, liturgical life, and political life began to flourish again in new and creative ways.

The featured booklet was created by the residents of the Deggendorf DP camp for Carl Atkin, the director of the camp's UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) team. It contains a letter celebrating UNRRA and the camp's community spirit as well as a song praising Deggendorf as "the nicest camp for Jewish DPs."2 Many of the residents were survivors of Theresienstadt, and the Deggendorf DP camp became a center of postwar Jewish cultural and political life in occupied Germany. The camp had two newspapers, a library of 1,700 volumes, an ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation through Training) center, a theater group, a ritual bath, and a kosher kitchen. Deggendorf served as a temporary home for approximately 2,000 Jewish DPs by the time it closed in 1949.3

For an overall portrait of Jewish life in the DP camps generally, including Jewish interactions with the surrounding German communities, see Atina Grossmann, Jews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007).

For more about music within the DP camps, see Shirli Gilbert, "We Long for Home: Songs and Survival among Jewish Displaced Persons," in We are Here: New Approaches to Jewish Displaced Persons in Postwar Germany, edited by Avinoam J. Patt and Michael Berkowitz (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2010), 289–307.

For more on the political life of Jewish DPs throughout the DP camp system, see Zeev Mankowitz, Life between Memory and Hope: The Survivors of the Holocaust in Occupied Germany (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

"United Nations" was the official name of the anti-Axis coalition led by the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom.

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Dear Mr. Atkin,

What shall the following pages be like? Just a simple statement of some facts. And these facts are the result of an interesting development. This development proves one fact. Goodwill and collaboration in the most difficult situation can overcome the hardest troubles and resistances. This fact was proved previously many times. Even the victory of the United Nations over the powers of destruction is a clear specimen [sic] of the effect that goodwill and collaboration may have.1

Half a year has passed since Germany capitulated. Europe is on the way of being rebuilt. The Nations which fought for liberty and democracy lend their hands to those who were victims to the Nazi-Policy, in our days of reconstruction. For this purpose an especial organization [sic] has been established, the UNRRA. The goal of this organization can be expressed in a very simple manner: fulfilling human duties, i.e. helping those, who are in want of help. Everybody who feels strong enough should be considered compulsory to do this job. It is the most beautiful work that a man can carry out. In our days we have got to realize that a permanent peace can be maintained only [if] everybody is convinced that he had to contribute his share in securing peace. To talk in beautiful words is very common but real doing is not only more desirable but also more necessary. If everybody is conscious that collaboration means more than happy feeling then he can start to take part in a program of reconstruction. Our community here was not a community before it has grown into one. And why? Because a great part of the members of this community have realized that a reconstructing life can be made possible only if everybody feels some responsibility towards the others. This is called community spirit.

Whenever and wherever community spirit is ruling that is a justified hope of progress and success.

The following pages shall prove that a small part of reconstructive work had been done thus approaching the goals of the present necessities.

Relief and Rehabilitation.

 

Deggendorf Song

Deggendorf you are the nicest camp for Jewish DPs
Deggendorf and everybody here is happy to be.
When one day we start from here away,
We all sing very sadly
We meet again in short time again with you
We all sing very sadly:
We meet again in short time again with you!

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Accession Number 2007.162
Date Created
December 1, 1945
Page(s) 1-4
Language(s)
English
German
Location
Deggendorf DP camp, Germany (historical)
Document Type Pamphlet
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