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Guide to Jewish Archives in Moscow

The Jewish Holdings of the Center for Preservation of Historico- Documentary Collections (former "Special Archives") in Moscow

In late August 1944, shortly after the liberation of Paris, a young Jewish woman returned to the city from southern France. A pre-war employee of one of the Zionist organizations in France, she immediately went to visit her former place of work. The office, which, according to the concierge, had served a German military unit during the occupation, was in complete disarray. But worst of all awaited her in the cellar: the office archives, which originally contained records from the 1920s on, were gone.1 A similar experience was in store for Stephan Barber, an employee of the World Jewish Congress office in Paris, who returned to the city from London. The members of a French fascist organization, who made use of the office before the liberation, were gone, but so were the archives which dated back to the days of the Comite de Delegations Juives.2

It took 45 years for these archives, more than 80 other Jewish archival holdings, and many non-Jewish archives from various European countries to resurface in Moscow in what is now officially named the Center for Preservation of Historico-Documentary Collections (TsKhIDK) but still better known by its previous name - the "Special Archives". The TsKhIDK was established by the Soviet authorities in 1946 to house archival holdings of foreign origin which were taken as booty from Nazi Germany. These included many German records but also large collections of non-German archives which were plundered by the Nazis throughout occupied Europe.3 Already at first glance one can see that the Jewish holdings of the TsKhIDK are not an accidental accumulation of looted material but a premeditated collection of historical archives of Jewish international organizations, of Jewish political organizations and parties as well as papers of Jewish intellectuals. It is evident, for example, that a special effort was made by the Nazis to gather under one roof archives of various branches of the Alliance Israelite Universelle (series of records from the Paris headquarters, the Vienna Allianz and the Alliance from Brussels), of the B'nai Brith Order (archives of lodges from Germany, Austria, Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece and Czechoslovakia), and of the Zionist organizations and parties (from France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Holland and Greece). I would venture to say that what made the material now kept in Moscow so special was the fact that it was intended for the projected Nazi Research Institute on the Jewish Question in Frankfurt and, to a lesser degree, for possible display in the projected "Fuehrermuseum" in Linz.

The very existence of the TsKhIDK was kept in complete secrecy throughout the Soviet period and it was only in 1990 that this institution and its unusual holdings became known in Russia and all over the world. Still, it should be mentioned that during the 1950s and the 1960s some archives were returned to the countries of the Communist bloc and, in one case at least, to France as well. Most Jewish holdings kept today in the TsKhIDK were looted by the Nazis in Germany, Austria, and France but there are also smaller holdings from Holland, Belgium, Greece, Yugoslavia, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. Following is the list of Jewish and related holdings kept at the TsKhIDK. Whenever possible the names of Jewish organizations are given in their original language and version, accompanied by an English translation. If no original version appears the English translation comes directly from Russian inventories available in the TsKhIDK.

Record Group (RG) 44, Keren Kayemeth Leisrael, Paris [Jewish National Fund, Paris] 932 files from the years 1909-1940

This archives is very important in two separate fields: North African and French Jewish communities. As is well known, much Zionist activity in North Africa was supervised from France and for this reason one can find in the archives of the French Keren Kayemeth some 75 files of correspondence with its offices in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. No less important are the files of correspondence with local Keren Kayemeth offices throughout France. Some of them include detailed lists of Jews in various French localities (including Corsica) which may be of value for genealogical research. Furthermore this seems to be the only case of surviving pre-WWII local archives of Keren Kayemeth, a fact is of importance for a general understanding of this institution's activities in Europe.

RG 45, Association des Juifs polonais de France, Paris [Association of Polish Jews in France, Paris] 17 files from the years 1938-1940

The archives includes inter alia reports on activities (file 1), correspondence (files 2-6) and lists of members (files 7-10).

RG 58, The Rothschild family 1395 files

This record group, which must have been put together by the Nazis from records looted from various locations, contains papers of 28 members of the French branch of the Rothschild family. The Edmond de Rothschild files (807-877) contain much information on his art collection as well as financial material from the 1880s until the 1930s. Files 1322-1337 originate from the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (PICA), an organization established by Edmond in 1924 to promote Jewish agricultural settlement in Palestine. All of the PICA Paris office files were looted by the Nazis but many were found in Austria after the war and returned to PICA. They are now kept in private hands in Geneva . The PICA files in Moscow contain mainly records on medical services in the Jewish colonies in Palestine during the 1920s and correspondence with Henry Frank, the company's director in Palestine. For the archives of the German and Austrian branches of the Rothschild family see RG 637.

RG 100, Alliance Israelite Universelle (AIU), Paris 458 files from the years 1860-1940

Of all the Jewish archives affected by the Holocaust, the AIU archives' fate was most unusual and consequently one finds today, apart from the main part of the archives in Paris, much important material not only in Moscow but in New York as well.4 Like many French governmental records, the AIU archives were dispatched to Bordeaux prior to the German occupation of Paris and disappeared. After the war, most of them were brought to the Offenbach Archival Depo, a US Army unit which specialized in sorting and the restitution of Jewish archival and library materials5 and returned to the AIU. The missing part, which mainly contained financial, personnel, and legal records, was considered lost on its way to Bordeaux when the lorry that carried it caught fire6. Actually it simply must have been separated from the other material by the Nazis, possibly because of its practical value, recovered by the Russians in 1945, and is today kept at the TsKhIDK. This material is divided into three parts (opisii):

- Part (opis) one contains extensive correspondence with directors of the AIU schools in Beirut in the 1930s (files 16-36), alphabetically arranged forms with personal data on directors of the AIU schools (files 37-71), and legal and financial records on the establishment and operation of the AIU schools in the Middle East (files 72-108) including schools in Jaffa (files 80-81) and Jerusalem (files 82-85). File number 80 contains the 1870 original firman of the Miqveh Israel Agricultural School near Jaffa.

- Part (opis) two is the continuation of material pertaining to the financial and legal matters concerning the AIU schools (file 10 in Warna for the years 1897-1938).

- Part (opis) three contains the original set of the Alliance Comite Central minutes from 1860 until 1926 (files 3-7). There is a large gap in the set and minutes from 1876 to 1897 are missing. It should be mentioned that, at a first glance at least, the original version does not differ much from the well-known abstracts of the minutes published in the Alliance Bulletin. In addition the series contains the continuation of correspondence with the AIU schools, mostly in the Middle East.

RG 104, Ecole normale israelite orientale, Paris [The AIU Teachers' Seminary, Paris] 49 files from the years 1892-1939

RG 115, Fond de Reconstruction de la Palestine (Keren Hayesod) de France, Paris [Jewish Foundation Fund (Keren Hayesod) in France] 121 files from the years 1924-1940

RG 139, Consistoire israelite de Gironde, Bordeaux [Jewish Consistory of Gironde, Bordeaux] 72 files from the years 1906-1940 but some documents dating from the 16th century on

This is the only local French Jewish institution whose archives were looted, possibly because the material became intermingled with the AIU archives sent to Bordeaux which was of interest to the Nazis.

RG 145, Redaction Hatikva, organe de la Federation des Sionistes de Belgique, Bruxelles [Editorial committee of Hatikvah, organ of the Belgium Zionist Federation, Bruxelles] 4 files from the years 1920-1936

RG 156, Alliance Israelite Universelle, Comite d'Anvers [Alliance Israelite Universelle, Antwerpen Committee] 5 files from the years 1913-1940

RG 160, Collection of archival material of Zionist and other Jewish organizations and institutions in Belgium 50 files from the years 1870-1940
The collection includes some odd files of the Bruxelles consistory from 1870 on.

RG 161, Collection of archival material of Zionist and other Jewish institutions in France 60 files from the years 1866-1940

RG 186, Zionist and other Jewish organizations in France 476 files from the years 1891-1940

Almost the entire collection is made up of the files of the Paris headquarters of the Jewish Colonization Association.

RG 637, The Rothschild Bank and the Rothschild family papers 419 files from the years 1769-1939

A detailed description of this very important holding is to be found in "Beuteakten aus Oesterreich ..." (see footnote 3), pp.128-130.

RG 672, Bund Juedischer Frontsoldaten Oesterreichs, Wien [Austrian Association of Jewish Soldiers, Vienna] 359 files from the years 1915-1938

RG 674, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), Paris 197 files from the years 1918-1940

RG 675, Israelitische Allianz, Wien [Alliance Israelite Universelle, Vienna] 783 files from the years 1872-1939

The most outstanding part of this archives are files 119-577 of the first series (opis 1) and files 20-79 of the second series (opis 2) which contain correspondence with Jewish communities in Austria, Germany, and Poland, and with Austrian military authorities on the situation of the Jews in places in Galicia occupied by Austria during WWI. Other parts of the archives mainly contain financial and administrative matters.

RG 676, Juedischer Sportklub Hakoah, Graz [Jewish Sport Club Hakoah, Gratz] 32 files from the years 1929-1938

RG 677, Redaktion der juedischen Wochenschrift Die Wahrheit, Wien [Editorial Office of the Jewish weekly Die Wahrheit, Vienna] 30 files from the years 1924-1938

RG 707, Israelitische Kultusgemeinde, Wien [Jewish Community, Vienna] 281 files from the years 1782-1940

RG 709, Israelitische Kultusgemeinde, Graz [Jewish Community, Graz] 45 files from the years 1871-1938

RG 710, Krankenbesuchs- und Unterstuetzungsverein, Graz [Bikkur Holim (Visiting the Sick) and Aid Society, Graz] 22 files from the years 1919-1938

RG 711, Juedische Verbindung 'Charitas', Graz [Jewish "Charitas" Society, Graz] 29 files from the years 1908-1938

RG 712, Executive des Gesamtverbandes Juedischer Hochschueler Oesterreichs "Judeja", Wien [Executive of the Austrian Union of Jewish High School Students "Judeja", Vienna] 103 files from the years 1904-1938

RG 713, Berliner Zionistische Vereinigung [Berlin Zionist Organization] 33 files from the years 1915-1938

The archives contains minutes, correspondence with members, and correspondence with other Zionist organizations in Germany.

RG 714, Union Oesterreichischer Juden, Wien [Union of Austrian Jews, Vienna] 134 files from the years 1903-1938 Files 56-80 contain lists of members.

RG 715, Juedischer Jugendverein Berith Trumpeldor, Wien [Jewish Youth Association Berith Trumpeldor, Vienna] 45 files from the years 1929-1938

RG 716, Synagogen-Gemeinde zu Bromberg [Synagogue Society in Bromberg] 66 files from the years 1844-1939

RG 717, Israelitische-Theologische Lehranstalt in Wien [Jewish Theological Institute in Vienna] 304 files from the years 1623-1938

RG 721, Zentralverein deutscher Staatsbuerger Juedischen Glaubens, Berlin [Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith, Berlin] 4,370 files from the years 1869-1938

The biggest and without doubt the most important Jewish archives kept at the TsKhIDK. The following seem to be the most important series of records of this holding: files 1-110: statutes, circulars, reports, and minutes files 195-266: activities of the branches files 267-1427: local activities files 1893-2049: other Jewish organizations and their activities files 2248-2516: anti-semitism and the struggle against it files 2517-3371: political, legal, and economic situation of German Jewry

RG 722, American Joint Distribution Committee; Executive Office for Europe, Paris 685 files from the years 1913-1941

This is the archives of the European headquarters of the "Joint", an American Jewish welfare organization established in 1914 The core of the holdings are files of correspondence with the "Joint" branches in 25 various countries (opis 1, files 63-337).

RG 723, American Joint Reconstruction Foundation , Berlin-Paris 1305 files from the years 1922-1940

This organization was established in 1924 by the Joint and the Jewish Colonization Association in order to promote economical revival of East European (mainly Polish and Rumanian) Jewry. To this end, it administered a network of small, co-operative funds, where Jews could obtain a loan or deposit their savings. Most of the archives is made up of correspondence with heads of the funds in various localities.

RG 726, Vorstand der Synagogen-Gemeinde zu Stettin [Board of the Synagogue Society in Stettin (Szczecin) 27 files from the years 1828-1938

RG 727, Verband der Judenstaatzionisten Oesterreichs, Wien [Union of the "Jewish State" Zionists in Austria, Vienna] 11 files from the years 1915-1938

RG 740, Emigration Association 'Hicem', Paris 2,483 files from the years 1906-1940

RG 769, Great Lodge of the Independent Jewish Order Bnai Brith, Berlin 2411 files from the years 1844-1939

RG 1189, Verband der juedischen Legitimisten Oesterreichs, Wien [Association of Jewish Lawyers in Austria, Vienna] 55 files from the years 1930-1938

RG 1190, Executive Committee of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Paris 948 files from the years 1896-1940 (bulk: 1936-1940)

Established in 1936, the Paris office was, until the German occupation of the city, the world headquarters of the WJC. Some of the files pre-date the official establishment of the organization and document activities that brought the Congress into existence. Other records are arranged according to various departments: the Organization Department, Economic Department, Jewish Youth Department, Information Department, a collection of press cuttings and, most important, the Political Department, where one finds records on negotiations with the French authorities concerning Jewish refugees from eastern Europe in France. This series includes many letters written by the well known author Albert Cohen, who served as the office secretary.

RG 1191, Verband juedischer Kaufleute und Handwerker, Wien [Association of Jewish Salesmen and Artisans, Vienna] 13 files from the years 1928-1935

RG 1192, Organisation Zionistischer Frauen Oesterreichs, Wien [Austrian Women Zionist Organization, Vienna] 26 files from the years 1898-1938 (bulk: 1930s)

RG 1193, Landesorganisation der Judenstaatspartei, Wien [Jewish State Party for Austria, Vienna] 114 files from the years 1920-1938

RG 1194, Gesamtarchiv der deutschen Juden (Sammlung Neuman), Berlin [General Archives of German Jews (Neuman Collection), Berlin] 383 files from the years 1811-1918

The collection is mostly composed of press cuttings, fliers, and reports pertaining to German Jewish history.

RG 1207, Bund juedischer Jugend 'Ring', Berlin [Jewish Youth Union "Ring", Berlin] 12 files from the years 1913-1936

RG 1219, 'Toechter des B'nai B'rith' in Deutschland (Samlung) ["Daughters of B'nai Brith" in Germany (collection)] 761 files from the years 1878-1937

This is a composite record group comprising archival material of various German lodges of "Daughters of B'nai Brith".

RG 1221, "B'nai B'rith" in Austria [collection] 97 files from the years 1919-1938

RG 1225, B'nai B'rith in Yugoslavia and Greece [collection] 60 files

RG 1226, Delegation permanente en France de l'Agence Juive pour la Palestine, Paris [Jewish Agency for Palestine in France, Paris] 42 files from the year 1924-1940

The archives includes important material on political and welfare activities on behalf of Jewish refugees, including correspondence with the French Ministry of Defence on the establishment of a Jewish Legion in the French Army.

RG 1230, Weltverband der Juedischen Studentenschaft, Wien [World Union of Jewish Students, Vienna] 74 files from the years 1924-1936
Files 35-53 include correspondence with Jewish student organizations in various countries.

RG 1231, Organisationsdepartement der Judenstaatspartei, Wien [Organization Department of the "Jewish State" Party, Vienna]

RG 1245, Organisation Zionistischer Frauen Oesterreichs, Ortsgruppe Graz [Women Zionist Organization of Austria, Graz Branch] 8 files from the years 1929-1938

RG 1273, Bet-ha-Midrasch, Juedische Theologische Schule, Wien [Bet-ha-Midrasch, Jewish Theological Seminary, Vienna] 15 files from the years 1726-1892

RG 1325, Collection of Jewish archives from various countries 392 files from the years 1764-1941

It seems that this collection of odd files taken from archives of Jewish organizations in various countries was compiled by the Nazis, possibly as an item intended for the planned Fuehrermuseum in Linz. In many cases the files do not contain original archival material but printed reports, booklets, leaflets, manuscripts etc. Files 100-116 contain material removed from the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau (Wroclaw).

RG 1326, Juedische Gemeinde zu Berlin [Jewish Community of Berlin] 178 files from the years 1725-1936

RG 1427, Athens Jewish Community 117 files from the years 1901-1942

RG 1428, Thessalonica Jewish Community 297 files from the years 1919-1941

RG 1429, Belgrad Jewish Community 351 files from the years 1866-1941

RG 1430, Komitet pomoshchi yevreyskim bezhentsam 'Gicem', Zagreb 1163 files from the years 1933-1941

RG 1432, Collection of archival material of Jewish organizations and institutions in Holland 1026 files from the years 1806-1944

RG 1435, The (Zionist) Palestine Office, Thessalonica 56 files from the years 1919-1938

RG 1437, Societe anonyme 'Salonique-Palestine', Salonique [Thessalonica- Palestine Society, Thessalonica] 13 files from the years 1924-1941

RG 1439, Yevreyskaya religioznaya obshchina v gorodye Raguze (Dubrovnik) [Jewish Community of Raguze (Dubrownik] 12 files from the years 1783-1857

RG 1441, Israelitska bogoslawna opcina u Zagrebu [Jewish Community of Zagreb] 6 files from the years 1923-1941

In addition the TsKhIDK holds a number of personal papers of Jewish intellectuals and public figures, among them Joseph Reinach (RG 217), Silvain Levy (RG 231), Edmond Fleg (RG 247), Isaac Szwarcbart (RG 485), Joseph S. Bloch (RG 591), Walter Benjamin (RG 595), Arthur Koestler (RG 619), Walter Rathenau (RG 634), Leo Simon (RG 642), Siegfried Talheimer (RG 646), Georg Stainer (RG 666) and Alfred Grotte (RG 608).


1.       Juliette Goldstein to unknown addressee, 17.12.1944, Central Zionist Archives (hereafter CZA), KH4/ 2377.

2.       S. Barber to Alex Easterman, 28.9.1944, CZA, C2/192.

3.       On the TsKhIDK see: E. Maksimova, "Pyat dniey v Asobom Arkhivye", Izvestya, 17.2.1990 and the following four issues; G. Aly & S. Heim. Das Centrale Staatsarchiv in Moskau ("Sonderarchiv"). Duesseldorf, 1992; Y. Mayorek, "Arkhiyon meyuhad beyoter", Ha'aretz, 30.10.1992, p. B6 (Hebrew); Patricia K. Grimsted. Archives of Russia Five Years After: "Purveyors of Sensations" or "Shadows Cast to the Past"? Amsterdam, 1997. On the German holdings of the TsKhIDK see: "Die Deutschen Bestaende im Sonderarchiv in Moskau", Der Archivar, 45, 3 (July 1992), pp. 458-463; on the Austrian holdings: G. Jagschitz & S. Karner. "Beuteakten aus Oesterreich". Der Oesterreichisch- bestand im russischen "Sonderarchiv" Moskau. Graz-Wien, 1996; on the French Jewish holdings: Y. Mayorek, "Les archives juives de France a Moscou", Archives Juives, no. 32/2, (1999), pp. 120-123.

4.       On the AIU archives which found its way to the US see: Y. Mayorek, "Zosa Szajkowski and the Transfer of French-Jewish Archives to the US", Arkhiyyon (Jerusalem), 10-11, 1999, pp. XLIII-L.

5.       "Status of Archival Depot Report", 1.3.1946, U.S. National Archives, RG 239, box 73, file: "Status of Cultural Objects".

6.       G.Weil, "Les archives de l'Alliance Israelite Universelle anterieures a 1940", Archives Juives, 2, no.2 (1965-6), p. 7.

Copyright 1999; Historical and Genealogical Research in Israel. All rights reserved.