Children Wearing Makeshift Coats from Flour Sacks outside an Orphanage in Grodno, Poland


These children in Grodno, Poland (present-day Hrodna, Belarus) were among tens of thousands of Jewish war orphans who between 1914 and 1920 had lost one or both parents on the battlefield, in military hospitals, or from epidemics, starvation, and other war-related causes. The Joint Distribution Committee of American Funds for the Relief of Jewish War Sufferers (later the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, both names abbreviated as JDC) was formed in 1914 to send aid, including food, clothing, medicine, funds, and emergency supplies, to the stricken Jews of Europe during the war. When the war ended, the JDC launched a general plan to care for Jewish war orphans, providing room and board, clothing, education, medical attention, and social welfare. At first, limited supplies of clothing led to the use of improvised outfits, made from the sacks used to transport American flour. This wire-service photograph is from the archives of the JDC, which contain documents, photographs, film, video, oral histories, and artifacts recording the work of the organization from World War I to the present.

Last updated: March 4, 2016