Documentation of the Central British Fund

Language of Description
1945 - 1960
Level of Description
Record group
  • English
  • Latin (Fraktur variant)

Extent and Medium

74 microfilm reels

Biographical History

The Central British Fund for World Jewish Relief (CBF) known variously in the 1930's as the CBF for German Jewry (1933), the Council for German Jewry (1936), and the Central Council for Jewish Refugees (1939), was founded in Britain in early 1933 by a group of Anglo-Jewish communal leaders who represented the breadth of the liturgical spectrum and widely diverse political loyalties of the community. CBF action was a direct response to the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January1933 on a political platform of anti-Semitism.

The CBF obtained first-hand accounts of deteriorating conditions in Austria and Germany and put pressure on [the British] government and Jewish organizations to take action. The CBF started to fund the extraction of professors, school teachers, scientists, members of the judiciary, physicians, dentists, lawyers, businessmen and others who had been summarily dismissed from employment from Germany. The documentation details the work in shelters, hostels, internment camps, schools, and foster-homes. The financial plight of the CBF is thoroughly documented in the Record Group. Indeed, in 1939 its funds were exhausted and the work was only sustained by bank overdrafts and help from the British Christian Council and the British Home Office.

At the end of the war, the CBF helped to care for the last of the inmates who were liberated from the transit camps in Europe and those returning from various hiding places. Vivid eyewitness accounts tell of the survival conditions of those who lived and transcribed oral testimonies bring to life the horrors of the war. The CBF also fought for restitution of property and reparations. The task of recovering property was undertaken by teams of lawyers, many of them German Jews, working within restitution laws enacted in Germany to uphold the principles of morality for which the war had been fought.

Scope and Content

The documentation covers the period from the end of the war until after 1960 and primarily relates to Jews displaced during the war. There is also documentation regarding activities in other countries as well as problems related to Eretz Israel and the creation of the State of Israel in the Record Group. The documentation in the Record Group describes the efforts that were made to evacuate Jews from Nazi-controlled Europe, 1933-1944, the subsequent care of these refugees, post-war reparation, the impact of the Holocaust on the Zionist movement, and many other issues. The archive is all the more important as many of the official sources and other relevant organizational and private archives are either closed to researchers or have been lost.Part I: Among other items, reports submitted by Norman Bentwich regarding conditions in Austria in 1938 and 1939, and a record of his discussions with Adolf Eichmann, including the entire proceedings of a conference for the relief of German Jewry attended by representatives of Jewish communities throughout the world, held in London in 1933. The earliest documentation of discussions concerning the CBF and its foundation documents are almost complete. There is documentation of all the minutes of the Executive from 16 May 1933 through 1962; and the complete country files of the CBF covering Aden (Yemen), Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Rhodesia, Romania, Shanghai (China), South Africa, Eretz Israel and the State of Israel.Part II: Documentation of many vital sub-committees and related groups including The Parliamentary Committee on Refugees, 1939-1948, the World Union for Progressive Judaism, 1937-1960, the Pioneer Welfare Fund, the Central Department for Refugees, and the Refugee Children's Movement. Part III:Documentation regarding the post-war period and the issues of Restitution and Resettlement. There are detailed files regarding Jewish students and Jewish Communities in Europe. There is also documentation regarding the local CBF committees in Birmingham, Manchester, and Stoke-on-Trent, as well as documentation of the Central Committee for Refugees, 1940-1944.

Existence and Location of Originals

  • Central British Fund, London

Archivist Note

JL according to the RG description in the YV computerized catalogue

Dates of Descriptions