The Alfred Schwarzbaum Collection

Language of Description
Level of Description
  • French
  • German
  • Polish
  • Yiddish
  • Hebrew
  • Latin

Extent and Medium

~75 files


Biographical History

Alfred (Alf) Schwarzbaum was born in 1896 in Sosnowiec, Poland. He later moved to Bedzin, became a businessman and started a family. In late September 1939, following the German occupation of Poland, he sent his daughter to England. In November 1939, he was jailed for several weeks in Mysłowice and was interrogated by the Gestapo. After his release, he turned down an offer from Mosheh Merin, head of the Sosnowiec Jewish council, to be his deputy. Using his connections and his fortune, he was able to obtain visas for Switzerland. In April 1940 he left Poland and settled in Lausanne. Schwarzbaum soon started sending out food, clothing, money and papers to Poland. He managed to navigate between the often uncoordinated Jewish and Zionist organizations based in Switzerland, to transfer financial help to Jews in Poland. He sent hundreds of parcels to German occupied localities, via Lisbon, Sweden and Turkey. He visited refugee camps in Switzerland, and corresponded with persons living under the Nazi rule. He also produced passports, which led him into trouble with the Swiss police, who feared for violation of the country's neutrality policy. In 1946 he immigrated to Mandate Palestine. In Israel, he supported funds and provided stipends for students in need, in several Israeli institutes for higher education. He died in 1990.

Archival History

When Schwarzbaum arrived in Palestine in 1946, he brought with him over 6,000 items. Over the years, he donated he dispersed his collection between several archives in Israel, most notably the Massua institute. Schwarzbaum was a close friend of the founder and longtime director of the GFH Archives, Mr. Zvi Shner. Schwarzbaum donated the documents over the course of several decades.

Scope and Content

Alfred Schwazrbaum has been called a "one man aid and rescue operation". The GFH Schwarzbaum collection holds hundreds of documents, including letters and postcards sent to Schwarzbaum from Poland and from Jews living outside Poland, asking him for help or inquiring about relatives in Poland, receipts for parcel deliveries and correspondences with Jews in Poland and elsewhere.

Conditions Governing Access

Those archival materials which have been digitized and made available for viewing -- accessed on this site or through the GFH website’s Online Archive -- may be downloaded for personal use and classroom presentation, but not for distribution in any media. High-resolution images of archival materials are available by order; there is a fee for this service.

Conditions Governing Reproduction

Description of the files are available online in the Archives section of the GFH website, searchable by text elements and key words, and onsite on the IDEA ALM system in the GFH Archives Researchers’ Room.

Existence and Location of Copies

  • For most files, a digital scanned image of the actual documents is available for viewing online or downloading as a .pdf file. Use of the latter is limited by the description in “Conditions Governing Reproduction” (See Conditions, above).

Archivist Note

Created 22.06.2015 by AB-E

Rules and Conventions

EHRI Guidelines for Description v.1.0