A major DP camp in the American zone of occupation, southwest of Munich, Foehrenwald was among the largest and most significant of the Jewish DP installations. Established by the U.S. Army near the town of Wolfratshausen shortly after liberation, Foehrenwald's structures were originally built to house employees of IG Farben, but were converted into a camp for Jewish refugees in June 1945. A large number of Foehrenwald's DPs transferred there from Feldafing and Landsberg in late 1945. The housing conditions of Foehrenwald, in comparison to other camps, were far superior: the Foehrenwald residents lived in small but solid, centrally heated homes that had been evacuated by their German inhabitants rather than requisitioned and laid bare.
From 1946-48, Foehrenwald ranked as one of the largest Jewish DP centers in the American zone of Germany, with 4,000 Jews living there. The birth rate was rapid in the camp and within fifteen months of its opening, approximately 200 women in Foehrenwald were pregnant at the same time. The residents of Foehrenwald quickly became a forceful refugee voice, and staged mass protests, particularly against the British captures of Zionist underground operatives in Palestine and the Exodus 1947.
Foehrenwald had a rich educational and cultural life. There was a school for children, an ORT vocational training institute, and a yeshiva (religious academy) with 150 students. The Foehrenwald yeshiva also served as the administrative headquarters for all the yeshivot in the American zone. The camp supported theatrical and musical activity and published a weekly newspaper entitled Bamidbar (The Desert), which became a medium of literary expression for camp inhabitants. In September 1947, the Bamidbar staff published a 100-page almanac of Foehrenwald, documenting many aspects of the camp's life.
Foehrenwald had a police force, fire brigade, youth home, disciplinary commission, post office, and hospital. The camp committee supervised an extensive educational system as well as a camp court, which participated in the investigation of the killing of a Jewish DP by German rural police in July 1946. The DP had allegedly killed a cow to sell the meat in the camp. The court also ruled on several kapos living in the camp.
To provide for the many youngsters in the camp, Foehrenwald organized summer camps and many kibbutzim (Zionist communes). The kibbutzim and agricultural training farms represented nearly every platform of postwar Jewish politics. The spectrum included kibbutzim from Kadima, Dror, Bnai Akiva, Poel ha-Dati, Ohel Sarah, Poale Agudat Yisrael, Tel Yitzchak, and others.
As a result of its superior conditions, flourishing activity, and able UNRRA leadership by Henry Cohen, Foehrenwald became a highly desirable place for DPs to live. Consequently, a significant population of illegal DPs lived in the camp. A tuberculosis epidemic in summer 1946 (382 cases) caused enough concern among the camp's central committee to warrant the creation of a Committee of Jewish Tubercular Patients in Foehrenwald. Particularly active from 1951 until 1955, the TB committee eventually became one of the longest-standing representative voices in the camp, serving as a mouthpiece for the "die-hard" DPs who, unable to emigrate, remained in the camp long after most Jewish DPs had left Europe. Though a JDC presence remained in the camp at least until 1954, Foehrenwald was taken over by the German administration on December 1, 1951. Foehrenwald was the final DP camp to close, functioning until 1957 as a home for Jews who had no place to go.