Jewish Organizations and Individuals Involved in Rescue in France


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Aliya Bet, Hagana, Paris (see Mossad Aliya Bet)

Shaul Meirov (Avigur) worked with He Halutz activists in his Mossad headquarters in Paris, France.

Amelot Committee (La Amelot, Rue Amelot),

Amelot was a Jewish rescue organization that was established in Paris in June 1940.  It was named after the street where its headquarters was located, Rue Amelot.  After the German occupation of Paris, several Jewish organizations coordinated their activities under the leadership of Leo Glaeser, Yehuda Jakubowicz and David Rapoport.  In May and August 1941, Amelot provided relief activities to Jews interned in the French concentration camps.  Amelot helped rescue Jews who had escaped deportation.  It hid children and distributed forged documents.  In June 1943, Rapoport was arrested by the Nazis and deported.  Eugene Minkowski, director of the OSE, was also arrested by the Nazis on August 23, 1943.  After their arrests, Amelot was run by Abraham Alpérine.  By 1943, Amelot operated completely underground.  Amelot helped save more than one thousand Jewish children, and thousands of Jewish adults.  It maintained four kitchens and fed thousands of Jews.  Rue Amelot received significant support from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

Amelot on a number of occasions took extreme and dangerious measures to warn Jews regarding planned arrests and deportations.  Thousands of Jews were thus saved.  Amelot would do everything in its power to publicize the Nazi murderousintentions.  Amelot functioned illegally in its efforts to help immigrant Jews living in France.  These individuals were often the most in danger of arrest.

Rue Amelot was associated with the Fédération des Sociétés Juives de France and had representatives of both the Bund and Zionist organizations.

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

Joseph Schwartz, European director
Herbert Katzki, Paris, Marseilles
Jules Jefroykin
Maurice Brenner (UGIF-South)

Armée Juive (AJ; Jewish Army; Organisation Juive de Combat; OJC) – “Blue and White”

The Armée Juive was founded in 1942 by Abraham Polonski and Lucien Lublin as part of the French Zionist resistance movement.  It served as an armed resistance force as a separate Jewish fighting organization until the liberation of France in August 1944.  In late 1942, it became known as the Armée Sècrete (Secret Army).  The Armée Juive helped Jews escape from France to Spain.  It is credited with saving more than 300 Jews in 1943 and 1944.  In addition, it distributed millions of dollars from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to Jewish organizations in France.

Cachoud Group (Maurice Cachoud Group)

The Maurice Cachoud Group consisted of approximately 25 young Jewish men and women who worked in the Jewish underground around Nice, France.  This group was comprised of members of the Dubouchage Committee and members of other Jewish underground organizations.  They were responsible for obtaining false identity cards, finding hiding places, distributing funds, and trying to find French officials who would help in efforts to rescue Jews.

Some of the prominent members of the committee were Maurice Cachoud-Loebenberg (founder), Jacob Weintraub and Claude Gutman.  After Cachoud left for Paris in March 1944, Raymond Heymann became head of the organization.

The Cachoud Group received funds from the FSJF and the UGIF.  The Joint provided a major part of the funding for this organization.

Maurice Cachoud was arrested in Paris on July 18, 1944, and was tortured to death. 

The rescue efforts of Jewish underground organizations like the Cachoud Group were in part responsible for the rescue of 20,000 Jews in the former Italian zone of occupation in Southern France.

Camps Commission (Commission des Centres de Rassemblement)

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee obtained French permission to aid in relief activities in France.  Morris Troper, along with Marc Jarblum, established the Commission des Centre de Rassemblement (Camps Commission).  It was partially financed by the French Rothschild family.  The Camps Commission worked with the French Red Cross, the American Friends’ Service (Quakers) and other religious organizations, including the French Minister of Health.  The Camps Commission provided relief to Jews in the newly established French concentration camps.

Center for Aliya (Revisionst), Paris, established January 1939

The Center for Aliya (Revisionst) was founded by Revisionst leaders Shlomo Yaakobi (Yankelwitz), Hillel Kook (Peter Bergson), Eri Jabotinsky, Vitzak Rozin (Irgun), Yosef Katznelson (NZO), and Eliyahu Bidner (Ben Horin).

Central Commission of Jewish Assistance Organizations (Commission Central des Organizations Juives d-Assistance; CCOJA)

At the end of October 1940, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, under Joseph Schwartz and Herbert Katzki, helped organize an important umbrella organization for the relief of Jews.  It was called the Central Commission of Jewish Assistance Organizations.  The Chief Rabbi of France, Isaie Schwartz, and Rabbi René Hirshler helped organize the Commission.  The Commission worked closely with the French FSJ (Federation of Jewish Societies of France) and the Refugee Aid Committee and the OSE (Children’s Aid Rescue Society).

The CCOJA worked closely with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), under American Donald A. Lowrie, which became an umbrella organization.  It also worked closely with the American Friends’ Service (Quakers) and the Polish Red Cross.

The CCOJA was disbanded in March 1942, unable to achieve many of its goals.  It later morphed into the Nîmes Coordination Committee, also known as the Camps Committee.

Central Consistory of Jews of France (Consistoire Central des Israelites de France), established 1808

Children’s Aid Rescue Society (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants; OSE)

Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) was an international Jewish organization devoted to caring for the health and welfare of Jewish adults and children, mainly refugees from Eastern Europe.

With the rise of Nazism in Germany, the organization moved its headquarters to France. In 1938, 80% of the work done by OSE was devoted to children.  This included setting up children’s homes and creating an infrastructure to feed and care for these children. 

After June 1940, the OSE moved to southern France. OSE, using volunteers, was active in spiriting children away from the internment camps of Gurs, Agde and Rivesaltes in Southern France. More than 600 children were rescued. By the summer of 1942, there were 1200 children sheltered in 14 OSE homes. In 1942, with the occupation of southern France, OSE went underground. Georges Garel headed the underground activities of the OSE from August 1942. Garel managed to hide approximately 1,600 Jewish children.  OSE worked under the umbrella of UGIF-S, which helped in providing cover for its operations.
In 1943, all the children’s homes were closed. The children were taken individually into hiding with non-Jewish families or to other, non-Jewish institutions.  Others were taken to neutral Switzerland or Spain. Children who were too young, who "looked Jewish," or who had not mastered the French language, were smuggled across the Swiss border by OSE guides. Over 1000 children escaped from France through these convoys. In addition, OSE cared for more than 1,000 Jewish children who continued living with their families.  Historians estimate that by the end of the war, OSE had saved between 6,000 and 9,000 Jewish children. 

During the war, 32 OSE staff members lost their lives and approximately 90 OSE children did not survive.  Some of the prominent Jews who worked with OSE were Eugene Minkowski (Paris), Joseph Milner, Julien Samuel, Nicole Salon-Weill, Huguette Wahl (Marseilles), Charles Lederman, Elizabeth Hirsch (Lyon), Dr. Joseph Weill and Gaston Levy (Limoges), Alan Mosse, Dr. Simon Brutzkus, Dr. Lazar Gorevich, Dr. Boris Tschlenoff, Andrée Salomon and Georges Loinger, among many others.  The OSE was supported by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

Several dozen employees and more than a hundred supporters of the OSE were murdered by the Germans for their activities in rescuing more than 5,000 children.

Committee for Assistance to Refugees from Germany (Comité de Assistance aux Réfugies de Allemagne; CAR), Paris, Marseilles, 1939-1943?

The Committee for Assistance to Refugees was an important French Jewish aid groups.  It was established from the Comité National de Secours, which was established in 1933 to aid German refugees.  This Committee worked with the French government.  CAR was financed by the Rothschild family and its leaders were important and respected French leaders, who included: Albert Lévy, Raymond Raul Lambert, and Gaston Kahn.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) was a major supporter of CAR in its rescue and relief efforts. 

Committee for the Defense of Persecuted Jews in Germany (Comite de Défense des Juifs Persécutés en Allemagne)

The Committee for the Defense of Persecuted Jews in Germany was founded in December 1933 as a Jewish self-defense group.

Coordinating Committee for Jewish Charities of Greater Paris (Comité de Coordination des Oeuvres de Bienfaisance Israelites à Paris)

The Coordinating Committee for Jewish Charities of Greater Paris was founded early in the 1930s to help organize and distribute welfare and aid for Jews in France from a number of charities and welfare agencies.  The UGIF was founded after the Committee.

Delegation for the Assistance of Immigrants (DELASEM; Delegazione Assistenza Emigranti Ebrei), France and Italy

DELASEM was an umbrella of several Jewish organizations both in France and in Italy.  It was founded in 1933.  In November 1939, DELASEM began operating as a relief and rescue organization.  It was headed by Vittorio Valobra and its secretary was Raffaele Cantoni.  It became a secret organization which, during the war years, operated in Italy, Yugoslavia and Southern France.  DELASEM also supported beleaguered Jews in these occupied areas. 

During the war, it helped save thousands of Jews all over Europe.  In France and Italy, DELASEM was headed by Father Marie-Benoit, a Capuchin monk. 

DELASEM provided forged identity papers and ration cards.  More than 10,000 Jewish refugees were supported by DELASEM with money from the American Jewish Joint.  Prominent Jewish leaders of DELASEM included Vittorio Valobra (President), Settimio Sorani (Secretary), Angelo Donati, Aaron Kasztersztein, Rabbi Riccardo Pacifici, Stefan Schwamm, Dante Almasi, Enrico Luzzato, Massimo Teglio and Francesco Repetto.

Dubouchage Committee (Comité Dubouchage; Refugee Aid Committee), Nice

Beginning in 1943, the FSJF created a committee to help Jewish refugees in Nice, France.  The organization became known as the Dubouchage Committee.  The organization was founded and headed by Yaakov Doubinski.  Doubinski was 80 years old when he founded the committee.  The Dubouchage Committee worked with Jewish banker Angelo Donati and Italian Race Police Officer Guido Lospinoso.  The Committee provided Jews with important documents and found them residences.  The Committee worked with representatives of the Italian army in finding homes for the thousands of Jews in the Nice area. Members of the committee were Doubinski (president), Ignace Fink, Michel Topiol, Claude Kelman and Dr. Modiano.

The Italian zone of occupation remained a safe haven for tens of thousands of Jews until Italy left the war in September 1943.

The rescue efforts of Jewish underground organizations like the Cachoud Group were in part responsible for the rescue of 20,000 Jews in the former Italian zone of occupation.

Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC)

The Emergency Rescue Committee was founded in the United States in 1940 for the purpose of rescuing prominent refugees in Southern France.  The ERC operated in and around the Marseilles area, 1940-1941.  Several prominent members of the ERC were Jewish, including Albert (“Beamish”) Hirschmann, Gustus (“Gussie”) Rosenberg, Lisa Fittko and Lena Fischman, among others.

Federation of French Jewish Organizations (Fédération des Sociétés Juives de France; Federation; FSJF), France, established 1913; Comite de Coordination et de Federation, Paris/Lyon, 1939-1942

Marc Jarblum, president
Rueben (Zvi) Grinberg, executive committee
Israel Jefroykin, honorary president
Joseph Fischer, executive committee (JNF French representative)
Léo Glaeser, executive committee
Henri Hertz, executive committee
Faiwel Schrage, executive committee
Jules Jefroykin
Zwi Lewin
David Rapoport

Federation of Jewish Women of France for Palestine (UJF; Union des Femmes Juives de France pour la Palestine)

The UJF was a women’s organization established in France in 1924.  It was crated under the auspices of WIZO. 

After the German occupation in June 1940, the UJF went underground.  It helped save Jewish children.  It created the Clandestine Service for the Placement of Children, which rescued 1,250 children and placed them in Christian homes.

French Jewish Scouts (Eclaireurs Israelites De France; EIF), La Sixième

The Eclaireurs (EIF) – the French Jewish Scouts organization – was founded in 1923. In 1940, the Scouts protected between 300 and 400 Jewish children.  At this time, there were between 1,700 and 1,800 members of the EIF.  In the summer of 1942, one of the original EIF founders, Robert Gamzon, founded the Sixième (Sixth), the illegal arm of the EIF. La Sixième concentrated on the rescue of children, particularly those rescued from French concentration camps in the south of France, including Gurs, Rivesaltes and Les Milles.

The EIF established three homes for children in the southwest of France, in the city of Moissac, at Beaulieu-sur-Durdogne, and at Saint-Cere. Approximately 200 children were sheltered in these homes.

The EIF also supplied false papers to children as well as adults, which enabled them to cross the Swiss and Spanish borders.

Dr. Frederic Hammel and Rabbi Leo Cohen were active in setting up and guiding Jews on the escape route to Spain. He was arrested but released and continued his illegal work. It is estimated that between 850-1250 children were taken care of among whom some 500 were illegally passed into Switzerland.

Henri Wahl, of the Sixième, hid 850 Jewish children in the Tarn et Garonne area.

Other prominent members and participants of the EIF were Marc Haguenau, Simon Levitte, Andrée Salomon, Denise Lévy, Ninon Weyl-Hait and Fernand Musnik..

Eighty-eight members of the Sixième in the South and 30 in the North created a rescue network similar to the Garel rescue circuit.  The Sixième also produced counterfeit papers for the French underground.

EIF had official homes in Lautrec, Taluyers and Moissac.

Marianne Cohen and Mila Racine were caught smuggling children and were deported to and were murdered in Auschwitz.

FTP-MOI Military Branch of the Immigrant Resistance

Garel Network (Circuit Garel)

The Circuit Garel, or the Garel Circuit, was an elaborate rescue network to save Jews that operated in southern France from August 1942 until the liberation of France in August 1944.  It was founded and organized by a French Jew named George Garel who ran a small electrical business in Lyon.  Garel worked with Abbé Glasberg (a converted Jew) throughout the war.

By mid 1943, the Garel Circuit operated in four regions in southern France with 29 volunteers.  They maintained strict security and many did not know the names of many of their fellow rescuers.

The Garel Circuit worked with a number of Catholic and Protestant churches.  Garel’s network was supported by Archbishop Jules-Gérard Saliège of Toulouse, and Pierre-Marie Theas, bishop of Montauban.

By mid 1943, Garel had hidden more than 1,600 Jewish children.  Many of these were with Christian families.  Many of these Jewish children had parents who had already been deported to the concentration camps and were threatened with deportation themselves.  Many of these were foreign Jews of German, Czech or Polish citizenship.  A number of these children were smuggled out of French internment camps.

In the autumn of 1942, Garel’s network was divided between areas in Lyon and Limoges.  The Garel Circuit also operated in Paris, under the leadership of Eugene Minkowski. 

Leaders of the Garel Circuit were Joseph Milner (“Jomi”), Andrée Salomon, Dr. Jean Cremer, René Borel, Alain Mosse, Elizabeth Hirsch, Charlotte Rosenbaum, Robert Job and Germaine Masour.  One leader, Julien Samuel, was arrested.

General Defense Committee (Comité Général de Défense; CGD), established 1943

General Union of French Jews (Union Générale des Israélites de France; UGIF), North, South

On November 29, 1941, the French Jewish Council (UGIF) was established.  This organization was established as a go-between between the Nazi occupying forces and the Jewish community.  The Jewish community in the unoccupied zone of the south argued over the legitimacy of this organization and if they should participate with them.

The UGIF-North tried to protect Jews from racial laws and eventual deportation, with limited success.  The UGIF distributed food and aid to many of the Jews of Paris.  In addition, they liberated several hundred Jewish children from the Drancy transit camp.  It was severely criticized by Jewish organizations. 

The UGIF-South was established in January 1942 and began to fully function by May 1942.  Unlike UGIF-North, it was active in rescue and relief operations throughout the war.  It worked within the French concentration camps and tried unsuccessfully to intervene with French and Nazi officials to prevent the deportation of some Jews.  The OSE and the EIF functioned under the aegis of the UGIF-South and succeeded, using illegal means, in saving some Jews by taking them from the camps.  The UGIF-S encouraged Jews in the unoccupied zone to escape to the Italian zone, where they had limited protection until September 1943.

UGIF-South Concil Members (unoccupied France):
Ramond-Raoul Lambert, leader
Albert Levy, leader
Wladimir Schah (HICEM-France)
Raphael Spanien (HICEM-France)
Gaston Kahn (CAR)
Andre Lazard
Laure Weill
Robert Gamzon (French Jewish Scouts; EIF)
Maurice Brenner (Social Inspector, Lambert’s Secretary), JDC Rep.
Jules Jefroykin (Social Inspector, JDC Rep.)
Raymond Geissman, leader (Sept. 1943)
Professor Fernand Carcassonne (Sept. 1943)
Georges Edinger
Jérémie Hemardinquer

HICEM (HIAS-ICA), Marseilles, France

Edouard Oungre, co-director
Vladimir Shah, co-director
Raphael Spanien, co-director
Alexander Trocki, co-director

The HIAS-ICA offices in Marseilles had 77 workers.  Working closely with the Joint and numerous rescue and relief organizations, it helped thousands of Jewish refugees escape.  Its primary mission was to help procure documentation for refugees and arrange for numerous sailings of rescue ships from Portugal.

HICEM (HIAS-ICA), Paris, France

Vladimir Shah, representative until late 1939.
Edouard Oungre, representative, 1940, Paris, Marseilles.

Immigrant Labor Association (Main d’Oeuvre Immigrée; MOI)

International League Against Antisemitism (LICA; Ligue Internationale contre l’Antisemitisme)

The International League Against Antisemitism (LICA) was founded in 1927.  After the Nazi takeover in Germany in 1933, LICA advocated a strong response against the Nazi persecution of Jews.  They lobbied to allow immigration of German Jewish refugees to France. 

In 1937, LICA changed its name to the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism (Ligue Internationale contre l’Racisme et l’Antisemitisme).

LICA operated as a clandestine organization during World War II, and its members participated in rescue activities. 

Jewish Agency for Palestine (Yishuv)

Adolph Rabinowicz*, a Yishuv Parachutist, jumped into France seven times.  He was captured and executed.

Jewish Fighters Organizations (OJC)

The Armée Juive (AJ) was organized to help smuggle young Jews from France through Spain to Portugal.  In 1943, the AJ combined forces with the Jewish Scouts and changed its name in 1944 to the Jewish Fighters Organization (OJC).  The OJC eventually incorporated into two military-style formations: the Blue-White Battalion and the Marc Haguenau Company.  The Blue-White Battalion fought with the French Black Mountain Commando.  The Marc Haguenau Company fought against Germans and liberated the French town of Castres.

Jewish Welfare Committee of Paris (Comité de Bienfaisance Israélites à Paris)

Jewish philanthropic organization was founded in 1855.  Its principal aim was to provide relief for Jewish immigrants.  After 1933, it coordinated and merged with other charitable groups in France to establish the Coordinating Committee for Jewish Charities in Paris.

Mossad Aliya Bet Agency (Haganah), Paris

The members of Mossad Aliya Bet were from Hehalutz Youth from Palestine.  Shaul Meirov, a leader in the Haganah, was appointed head.

National Movement Against Racism (Mouvement National Contre le Racisme; MNCR)

Nîmes Coordinating Committee (Camps Committee), Southern France

The Nîmes Coordinating Committee, also known as the Camps Committee, was established in Toulouse, France, in November 1940.  It was created as an umbrella organization of 25 refugee organizations to help coordinate the relief efforts in the French concentration camps in the Southern Zone.  The Camps Committee provided food, medicine, clothing to the beleaguered refugees trapped in the French-run concentration camps.  The conditions in the camps were abysmal, and the mortality rate in some cases reached 10% annually.  The Nîmes Committee was run by a number of American refugee and relief agencies, including the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), headed by Donald Lowrie, the American Friends’ Service Committee (Quakers), the Unitarians, under Dr. Charles J. Joy, the American Red Cross, and others.

The Nîmes Committee worked closely with both the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and HIAS, who helped support the operation.  The Nîmes Committee also worked with a number of local consulates, particularly the Portuguese, Spanish, American, Chinese and Czech.  They obtained valuable documents, including visas and transit papers, which enabled Jewish refugees to leave the camps and eventually escape Southern France.

There were six prominent Jewish organizations that participated in the rescue and relief activities with the Camps Committee.  They included CCOJA, CAR, OSE and FSJ.  Joseph Weill and Julien Samuel worked with the Camps Commission and arranged for shipments of food and medicine into the French camps.  Herbert Katzki and Joseph J. Schwartz, of the JDC, negotiated with French officials to alleviate the conditions in the camps and gain the release of refugees.  They met with good success.

Representative Council of Jews of France (Conseil Représentatif des Juifs de France; CRIF)

Service André Rescue Organization, Marseilles, Aix-en-Provence, France

Service André was an international rescue organization based in Marseilles.

Joseph Bass (alias Mr. André; Jewish)
Father de Parceval (Dominican prior; interned)
Father Bremond (Jesuit)
Father Marie-Benoit (Capuchin monk; DELASEM)
Pastor Hevze (Protestant; Reformed Church in Marseilles; interned and deported)
Pastor Severin Lemaire, Marseilles
Joseph Lasalarie (Attorney)
Murzi (attorney)
Israel Salzer (Chief Rabbi of Marseilles)
Angelo Donati (banker), rescue activist, DELASAM
Rabbi Rene Hirschler


Warned Jews about roundups and deportations.

Union of Jewish Women (Union des Femmes Juives)

Union of Jews for Resistance and Mutual Aid (Union des Juifs pour la Résistance et l’Entr’Aide; UJRE), founded National Movement against Racism (Mouvement National contre le Racism)

The Union of Jews for Resistance and Mutual Aid was an underground organization formed by French Jewish Communists in Paris in August 1940.  It was called Solidarité until mid-1943.  Originally founded as a Jewish partisan unit, it conducted sabotage against German installations.  In January 1942, Solidarité created an organization called the National Movement against Racism (Mouvement National contre le Racism).  The National Movement against Racism was organized and led by Alex Chertok, Suzanna Spaatz and Thérèse Pierre.  They were to enlist the aid of non-Jewish organizations.  The UJRE warned Jews and Jewish organizations to go into hiding or be enlisted for work in Germany.  The UJRE saved 900 Jewish children.  120 of its partisans were killed and 400 deported to the death camps.

Universal Jewish Alliance (Alliance Israelite Universelle; AIU), Paris

The Universal Jewish Alliance was founded in France in 1860 as a social and general welfare organization established to help Jews in need throughout Europe and the world.

Women’s International Zionist Organization in Paris (WIZO)

Zionist Youth Movement (Mouvement de Jeunesse Sioniste;

Otto (Toto) Giniewski, a Jewish refugee from Austria who had settled in Montpellier, founded a youth movement called the “Zionist Brigade of Montpellier,” The Brigade developed into a national underground movement, the Mouvement de Jeuness Sioniste (Zionist Youth Movement; MJS). The MJS was made up of young Zionists.  Members of the MJS devoted themselves to rescuing fellow Jews, children as well as adults. No effort was too great and the results were remarkable. Different networks within the MJS were active in far-flung parts of southern France.  Service Andre, based in Marseilles, took their charges to the area of Chambon-sur-Lignon near Lyon; the Marcel network operated out of Nice. The rescue branch of the Armée Juive (Jewish Army) was active in the prefecture of Tarn and in Paris. Another form of rescue was smuggling Jews across the borders of France, both to Switzerland and to Spain. The MJS worked with the Dutch Hehalutz organization, which managed to organize an escape route from Amsterdam to the south of France and into Spain, with the support of the French Zionist organizations. Some of the most courageous of these young underground workers were caught, tortured and killed. Among these were Marianne Cohn (OSE), Andrée Salomon (OSE) and Joachim Simon (Sushu) of the Dutch group.

Rescue efforts by French Jewish youth organizations were highly effective.  Despite working under extremely dangerous conditions, either in urban or rural areas, they were able to save 7,000 Jewish children whose parents had been deported.  1,500 of these were guided into Switzerland.  Many others were placed in non-Jewish households.

Three French organizations, the EIF (Jewish Scouts), the MJS and the Armée Juive, also participated in armed combat.