Accessions consists of interview tapes and films for a project commemorating the Jewish Labour Committee's (JLC) work in rescuing Jewish refugees after the Second World War.
Interviewees include refugees who were assisted by the JLC and former JLC officials who were involved in the project
Materials were donated by Stan Adleman (one of the interviewers for the commemorative project) in 1978 to the Multicultural History Society of Ontario. The MHSO passed on the collection to the Archives of Ontario.
The materials were never accessioned by the Archives of Ontario, but they did create a brief finding aid for the materials in 1985 and identified the collection as Archives of Ontario Audio-Visual Collection #190.
In 1991, the Archives of Ontario offered the collection to the Canadian Jewish Congress National Archives, which in turn notified the Ontario Jewish Archives that the collection was available for acquisition.
The OJA apparently acquired the collection in late 1991 or early 1992, but it was not accessioned at that time.
The Jewish Labour Committee (JLC) was founded in 1936, an offshoot of the American Jewish Labor Committee (AJLC), a trade union umbrella group with roots in the Workmen’s Circle, a radical left Jewish fraternal organization that had its origins in Eastern Europe. At its peak it claimed about 50,000 members, coming largely from such Jewish-dominated trade unions as the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union (ACWU), and the United Cap, Hat and Millinery Workers Union (UCHMWU).
The JLC was social democratic and anti-communist. In the early part of the century, most socialist Jews in Canada were members of the Workmen’s Circle, but in the wake of the Russian Revolution the "left" communists began to move away from the "right" social democrats. By 1926 the two factions had split completely, with the communists leaving to create an organization called the Labour League and the social democrats remaining in the Workman’s Circle. The latter continued to be the social and intellectual home of the JLC labour activists, while the former performed the same function for Jewish communists, even after it changed its name in 1945 to the United Jewish People’s Order (UJPO). Over the years these two factions remained bitter rivals.
Not surprisingly, the JLC had close ties with the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), a party that was social democratic on economic matters and liberal on human-rights.11 For example, David Lewis, the CCF’s first National Secretary, was the son of Morris Lewis, a Workman’s Circle socialist, and for many years the Secretary of the JLC. Similarly, Maurice Silcoff, a vice-president of the JLC, was a CCF activist.
During World War II, one of the most pressing issues for the Canadian Jewish community was refugee relief, especially assistance for those few Jews who had managed to escape the Nazi Holocaust. As the war began to draw to a close, however, Jewish activists began to shift from their short-term project of helping victims of foreign antisemitism to the longer-term goal of attacking domestic antisemitism. At the same time, they broadened their scope, viewing antisemitism as simply one part of a larger problem — racial and religious prejudice.13 In the words of an early JLC report, "Anti-Semitism, anti-Negroism, anti-Catholicism, anti-French or anti-English [sentiments] ... and union-smashing are all part of a single reactionary crusade of hatred and destruction.".
Consequently, by 1946 the JLC executive had appointed a national director to combat racial and religious prejudice within the trade union movement in Canada. Their choice, Kalmen Kaplansky, was Polish-born, fluent in Yiddish and English, a war veteran (with the rank of sergeant), a member of the International Typographical Union, Montréal vice-chair of the JLC, and a social democrat with strong ties to the Workmen’s Circle and the CCF.
[Taken from: Ross Lambertson. (2001). "The Dresden Story": Racism, Human Rights, and the Jewish Labour Committee of Canada. Labour/Le Travail Issue 47. http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/llt/47/03lamber.html Viewed May 27, 2005 9:38 EDT
The archives does not have the release forms signed by interviewees.