Landsberg

When the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry visited Landsberg DP camp in early 1946, it found no children between the ages of one and five living there. The camp's American-Jewish military commandant, Irving Heymont, wrote to his wife in mid-1945:

"With few exceptions, the people of the camp themselves appear demoralized beyond hope of rehabilitation. They appear to be beaten both spiritually and physically, with no hopes or incentives for the future."

But the population of 5,000 Jewish DPs in Landsberg had not been defeated, and within months had created one of the most flourishing communities in the Sh'erit ha-Pletah. The camp was located in Landsberg am Lech, near Munich, in the American zone. During the war, it had been a German military compound; Landsberg eventually grew into the second largest DP camp in the American zone.

The population, chiefly comprised of Russian, Latvian, and Lithuanian survivors, gained great influence over other DP camps in the American zone. Beginning in October 1945, the Landsberger Lager Cajtung (Landsberg Camp Newspaper) developed a reputation as one of the best newspapers in the American zone. In 1946, the newspaper's name was changed to the Jidisze Cajtung (Jewish Newspaper), a testament to its renown in the Sh'erit ha-Pletah. In addition, Landsberg profited from a group of capable leaders whose guidance aided both the camp and the entire Sh'erit ha-Pletah. The most prominent of these leaders was Samuel Gringauz, who served as chairman of the Council of the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the U.S. zone. Gringauz also served as founding editor of the Landsberger Cajtung. In October 1945, David Ben-Gurion, head of the Zionist organization in Palestine, visited Landsberg and was instrumental in acquiring more space for the overpopulated camp.

Landsberg was also the site of the ORT field headquarters. ORT operated several schools there alongside Landsberg's extensive educational system which ran from preschool through college. This system included several children's schools, eight training farms, a Talmud Torah (religious elementary school), and a Klausenburger yeshiva (religious academy). The camp had a rich cultural life that included a theater and cinema.

Landsberg had the first non-elected camp committee for DPs, which included a police force and a Society for the Observance of the Sabbath. The camp began preparing kosher meat early in 1946, when 2,643 Orthodox Jews registered for kosher beef in Landsberg. Landsberg closed on October 15, 1950.

 

The Gurfein family attends a Passover seder at the Landsberg displaced persons' camp on April 14, 1949.
in the Landsberg displaced persons' camp, two children are given instruction in a religious text.
Landsberg, Germany, 1947
Abe Malnik with other members of the Landsberg boxing club.