Zydowska Samopomoc Spoleczna (ZSS-Jewish Self Aid) activities in the Generalgouvernement, 1939-1943
Extent and Medium
38 microfilm reels
The Jewish Self Aid organization (in Polish: Zydowska Samopomoc Spoleczna [ZSS]; in German: Juedische Soziale Selbshilfe) was set up in Krakow in 1940; it went by this name until July 1942. After that date, the organization's welfare activities were cut back by order of the German authorities, and they mainly consisted of the transferring of medicines to Jews in labor camps until this activity, too, was discontinued in mid-1944. ZSS documentation includes correspondence between the administration of the organization in Krakow and the branches throughout the Generalgouvernement, and correspondence with the German goernmental authorities, the Judenrats, and various Jewish relief organizations, such as Centrala Opieki nad Sierotami (CENTOS -Federation of Associations for the Care of Orphans), Obchestvo Remeslenogo Truda (ORT- Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades-World Union for the Vocational Training of Jews), Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia Ludności Żydowskiej (TOZ-Society for Safeguarding the Health of the Jewish Population) and welfare organizations outside of Poland, mainly the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
Background: The principle and immediate problem was the need to give aid to the multitude of Jewish refugees who had been deported from their places of residence and for the most part were left without anything and without a roof over their heads, and gradually, the need to help local Jews who were disinherited from their property and remained without sources of income. Along with the ghettoization process, a need arose to provide an answer to the harsh living conditions, the lack of sanitary conditions and the outbreak of diseases, including a typhus epidemic at a time when there was a shortage of equipment and medicine in the Jewish medical institutions. In the beginning, the "Assistance Committees" worked in the relief and welfare areas within the framework of the Judenrat or alongside them, and as time went by, they became the local representatives of the ZSS.
Scope and Content
In the documentation:
The ZSS documentation includes correspondence between the administration of the organization in Krakow and the branches throughout the Generalgouvernement, and correspondence with the German governmental authorities, the Judenrats, and various Jewish relief organizations, such as CENTOS, ORT, TOZ and welfare organizations outside of Poland, mainly the JDC.
In the correspondence there are requests for social welfare in various areas, itemization of aid and welfare activities including assistance to those in need and Jewish refugees, the establishment and maintenance of soup kitchens, care for children and the elderly, public health, vocational training courses, provision of medicines, distribution of food and clothing in the communities, reports and monthly balance sheets of the local ZSS branches, the transfer of funds and medicines, the way the various resources were allotted and their distribution.
Along with the lists of names of Jews in need of assistance who received aid in the distribution of food, clothing and heating supplies, of members of Assistance Committees and local branches of the ZSS, there are also lists of the receipt and distribution of food and clothing (some of them contributions transferred from Jewish organizations abroad by the ZSS) and itemization of assistance funds, medicines and medical equipment.
The material in the Yad Vashem Archives appears in Microfilms 1546-1551 and 1560-1592. [What follows is] a partial summary of the information:
JM/1546 contains, among other items, forms regarding financial assistance from the JDC, correspondence between the ZSS administration in Krakow and various companies regarding the transfer of gifts from abroad and the transfer of parcels within Poland, the transfer of funds, invoices and receipts, 1941-1944;
JM/1547-1548 contains, among other items, correspondence between the ZSS administration in Krakow with the Judenrats, local ZSS branches throughout the Generalgouvernement, the TOZ organization on various subjects pertaining to the supplying of medicines, sanitary supplies, and clothing in the cities whose names start with A-H, M-P and U-Z, 1940-1942;
JM/1549 contains documentation regarding the Plaszow camp and various factories at which the Plaszow inmates were employed, lists of names of Jewish laborers in various factories in Krakow;
JM/1550 contains, among other items, correspondence between the ZSS administration in Krakow with Deutsche Emailwarenfabrik (German Enamelware Factory) regarding the allotment of bread, clothing and medicines to those employed in the factory, 1943-1944, correspondence with various labor camps concerning the needs of the Jews working there and monthly reports regarding ZSS activities, 1942-1944;
JM/1551 contains, among other items, correspondence between the ZSS administration in Krakow with German governmental authorities and Jewish institutions regarding relief and welfare, an announcement regarding a special relief effort for the winter, November 1940;
JM/1570 contains, among other items, Rada Glowna Opiekuncza (RGO-Central Welfare Council, the main relief council run by the Polish government-in-exile) correspondence with the ZSS administration regarding the distribution of food and medicine from the United States to Ukrainians, Jews and Poles;
JM/1572 contains, among other items, correspondence between M. Jaszunski and the ZSS administration in Warsaw regarding vocational training, assistance to the participants in such programs, statistics concerning the workers in the Warsaw Ghetto, assistance to agricultural workers and statistical data regarding agricultural workers, 1941-1942, correspondence regarding the establishment of the ghettos in the city of Warsaw and its surrounding areas, a report of visits to the Jewish communities in the Warsaw District; report of a meeting with the Commissar for Matters of the Jewish Quarter regarding the allotment of resources for soup kitchens in the ghetto;
JM/1573 contains, among other items, a map of the Krakow District with mention of the places where JDC activities are conducted, confiscation of Jewish property, labor camps in the Lublin area, the Krakow area and the Warsaw area;
JM/1577 contains, among other items, the Radom area: Correspondence with the ZSS administration and the German governmental authorities; report surveys of activities, lists of names, 1940-1941;
JM/1582 contains, among other items, notes from the meetings held by J. Sternberg, the advisor for Jewish Affairs to the Krakow area governor, with the German governmental representative regarding the ZSS; based on these notes, it is possible to see how the financial allotments to the organization were diminished and German lack of interest in the ZSS increased in 1942; publications of the ZSS 1-65 regarding its tasks, the organizational structure and various types of welfare activities;
JM/1583-1584 contain, among other items, correspondence of the CENTOS organization with the ZSS administration in Warsaw and in Krakow, reports of programs for feeding children, work plans for caring for children and youth, documents pertaining to Korczak's children's home, 1939-1940; report surveys regarding CENTOS activities in the area of care of children and orphans, 1940-1941;
JM/1585 contains, among other items, lists of assistance allotted to various districts within the Generalgouvernement for feeding programs, sanitation, orphanages, soup kitchens and dormitories, 1941-1942;
JM/1587 contains, among other items, TOZ correspondence with the ZSS administration, surveys pertaining to health and sanitation, 1941, lists, reports and surveys regarding the vocational training conducted by ORT, 1940-1942;
JM/1588 contains, among other items, correspondence of private people with the ZSS administration regarding searches for relatives, arranged in alphabetical order, 1942-1944;
JM/1590 contains, among other items, ZSS administration correspondence with Jewish organizations and institutions abroad regarding the transfer of parcels, contributions, searches for relatives and relief to family members in Poland;
JM/1591 contains, among other items, ZSS administration correspondence with the Jewish representation in Prague, Jewish Councils in Romania, and with the Central Jewish office in Shanghai regarding searches for relatives, 1941-1943.
file O.300/95 in the YV archives (digitized)
Existence and Location of Copies
YV archives USHMM ZICH Warsaw
JL according to the RG description in the YV system
Rules and Conventions
EHRI Guidelines for Description v.1.0
Dates of Descriptions