Jewish War Orphans in Dubno, Poland


The two children in this photograph, dressed in rags, are orphans in Dubno, Poland (present-day Ukraine). The devastation of World War I and the subsequent Russo-Polish War of 1919‒20 resulted in tens of thousands of orphaned Jewish children in Poland. These orphans could find shelter in numerous child care facilities operated by the Centralne Towarzystwo Opieki nad Sierotami (CENTOS—Federation of Associations for Orphans and Abandoned Children), an umbrella organization embracing more than 200 Jewish orphanages, boarding schools, and other educational facilities. CENTOS was funded primarily by local Jewish communities and by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which had been formed during World War I to provide wartime relief to Jewish communities, including support for the establishment of Jewish hospitals, child care institutions, and food distribution stations throughout Poland. Since 1914, the JDC has operated as a global humanitarian organization in more than 90 countries. The photograph is from the archives of the JDC, which contain 100,000 photographs, two million documents, film, video, oral histories, and artifacts documenting the organization’s humanitarian work from World War I to the present.

Last updated: March 17, 2016