Refugees Returning to Poland from Russia


In the early years of World War I, many Jews living in the disputed territories of Poland were resettled by Russian military authorities in the provinces of Central Russia. In areas where aid was possible, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a humanitarian organization created at the start of World War I by American Jewish groups, carried on relief activities on behalf of refugees, and later—as citizens of prewar Poland went back home—for the returnees. The displaced received baths, nourishing meals, shoes, clothing, medical treatment, and shelter. The returnees in this photograph were on the road between Rowne (present-day Rovno or Rivne, Ukraine) to Łuck (Lutsk, Ukraine), having traveled for four months from the Volga region of Russia. Among the first medical team of JDC representatives was Max Colton, a physician, who took this photograph and others to document the work of the medical unit and the communities where it worked. The 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 17, 2016