The Recha Freier Archive: Founder of Youth Aliyah in Germany, 1935-1951
Recha Freier was born in Norden, in the northwestern part of Germany, in 1892. On completion of her University Language studies, she worked as a teacher and folklore researcher. In 1932 she conceived of the idea of organizing the sending of Jewish youth to Eretz Israel for education in the kibbutzim. She gathered funds for this purpose and saw her idea become a reality when the first group of Jewish youth left Berlin in late 1932. The World Jewish Congress approved the idea in 1933, however initially Recha Freier had to raise the funds for the project herself. in 1935, Recha Freier proposed expansion of the youth rescue activities to include Poland, Austria and Czechoslovakia, but the Zionist institutions rejected her proposal.
From 1938 Recha Freier worked to rescue the Jews of Austria. She made many efforts to effect the release of Jews with Polish citizenship detained in concentration camps on Kristallnacht, November 1938. Release from the camps was carried out through permits issued by the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland (Reich Association of the Jews in Germany). Freier took 100 permits without permission and succeeded in releasing 100 Jews who had been detained in concentration camps. When the Reichsvereinigung was informed of what Freier had done, Freier was relieved of all her positions in the Zionist administration in Berlin, including heading Youth Aliyah. In mid-1940, she escaped from Germany to Yugoslavia, and she continued her activities from there; she succeeded in rescuing 150 young Jews whose parents had perished in concentration camps. She made aliya to Eretz Israel in 1941, and in 1943 she founded Hamifal - Educational Children's Homes, an organization which provided education in kibbutzim, moshavim and family caregiving units to children from disadvantaged homes.
The collection contains Recha Freier's personal files, including correspondence with various international organizations, among them the Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization of the United States, which directed its main efforts to the project to rescue Jewish children during the Holocaust.
Description of the files are available on IDEA ALM system at Yad Vashem Archives reading room
JL according to RG description in the YV computerized catalogue