School Band of the Natanson Professional School in Warsaw, Poland


This photograph shows the school band of the Natanson Professional School of the Jewish Community in Warsaw, Poland, in 1921. Students pose with their instruments at the entrance to the school. World War I tore a calamitous path through the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe, leaving in its wake widespread famine, disease, and economic hardship. In the immediate postwar years beleaguered Jewish communities faced continued challenges that threatened their existence. New socio-economic realities stripped European Jews of their former livelihoods, leaving them without the means to help themselves. Their communal infrastructure also lay in ruins. To address these conditions, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a humanitarian organization created at the start of World War I, helped the Polish Jewish community to rebuild communal institutions. In the interwar years, the JDC played a vital role in restoring and helping to support Jewish schools and institutions, working in partnership with the wide spectrum of Jewish groups and ideologies: Hasidic groups, Zionists, Bundists, Yiddishists, and representatives of mainstream Orthodoxy. 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