William Perl papers

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 1991.A.0076
  • RG-19.018
Level of Description
  • English
  • German
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium




Biographical History

William R. Perl (1906-1998) was born to a textile merchant in Prague. He earned a Ph.D. in law and a master's degree in international business from the University of Vienna. He practiced law in Vienna and was active with Vladimir Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Zionist movement. In 1938 he organized "Die Aktion," a circle of young Viennese Zionists dedicated to the creation of an independent Jewish state. Within a year, Die Aktion succeeded in landing a number of Jewish immigrants on the coast of Mandatory Palestine. Perl continued to work with Zionist groups and Greek smugglers, organizing large-scale illegal immigration of Jews to Palestine and prodding reluctant Jewish leaders into doing the same. Perl married Lore Rollig in 1938, a Viennese woman who had recently converted to Judaism. Perl immigrated to the United States in 1940 and was working to arrange for Lore to join him when Nazi Germany declared war on the United States. Perl joined the U.S. Army in 1941 and served as a military intelligence officer in London. Lore Perl was arrested in 1943 for aiding Jewish children, survived Ravensbrück concentration camp, and was reunited with Perl in Vienna in 1945. Perl served as a chief interrogator during the Malmedy massacre trial at Dachau in 1946. The Perls settled in the United States with their two sons. Perl continued his study of psychology at Columbia University and then served as an army psychologist until his retirement in 1966. Perl became the leader of the Washington, D.C. branch of the Jewish Defense League in the 1970s, and received international media attention for his protests against persecution of Jews by the Soviet Union.


The documents and document copies were collected by William Perl during and after the Holocaust. They were transferred to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives via Elizabeth Koenig of the Museum's Library in July 1991.

System of Arrangement

The William Perl papers are arranged as three series: I. Records and photographs relating to illegal immigration of Jewish refugees to Palestine (folders 1-4), II. Report: a statistical analysis of Soviet atrocity charges (folder 5), III. Report: Russian intentions to punish war criminals (folder 6)