Documents, Memories and Films


Robert R. Hilliard. Surviving the Americans. The Continued Struggle of the Jews after Liberation, Seven Stories Press, New York 1997
After attending a liberation concert given by emaciated concentration camp survivors at St. Ottilien, two Jewish-American soldiers wrote a letter about the criminal neglect and anti-Semitism of the American policy in occupied Europe. This letter turned into a crusade which saved untold numbers of lives when President Truman finally reversed US policy. An extraordinary autobiographical account by one of the letter-writers, „Surviving the Americans“ is the first book to present the genocide by neglect suffered by Jews and other camp survivors at the hands of the Americans after the liberation, and the first as well to tell of the campaign that eventually saved many of them.

Interview with Rabbi Abraham Klausner
Rabbi Klausner, Jewish Army chaplain at the Dachau camp, describes how he met Dr. Zalman Grinberg and how they set up the hospital at St. Ottilien.
Excerpts: Klausner_interview_IFZ

Rabbi Judah Nadich. Eisenhower and the Jews, New York 1953, p. 84-87, 154–157
In these memories Rabbi Judah Nadich describes his visit to the hospital St. Ottilien in August 1945, his encounter with Dr. Grinberg and the work in the hospital.

Ben Lesser. Living a Life that Matters: From Nazi Nightmare to American Dream, Bloomington, IN: Abbott Press, 2012
Ben Lesser survived the Holocaust as a „walking skeleton“ of 16 years. From the Dachau concentration camp he was brought to the St. Ottilien hospital. He describes the daily life at the monastery DP camp, a first feast of Purim in July to make up for all the missed ones. In the camp he encounters a group of juvenile Chalutzim, pioneers, who want to settle in Palestine and joins them. Shortly afterwards, he surprisingly meets his sister Lola at the St. Ottilien Hospital who is just about to deliver the first baby of the camp. He decides to stay with her and together they emigrate to the U.S. in September 1947 (p. 147–167).

Morley Potash. Mendel’s Story: Hide and Seek – Surviving the Holocaust, 2016
Mendel is just 7 years old when World War II erupts in Europe. He witnesses the complete destruction of his family’s life and home. Incredible luck, intelligence, bravery, humor and the kindness of strangers steer him and his family on a narrow path to surviving the holocaust. After the war, Mendel’s trials continue. He relates hard work, truck rides which lead him with a group of about 70 children to St. Ottilien, a missed boat to Israel, and the final passage to Canada where he could restore his life to the bounty he knew and lost as a young boy.

Interview with Peter Kubierschky about his memories from the German Military hospital and the succeeding DP hospital: Interview_Kubierschky
Peter Kubierschky was 15 years old when WW II ended. His father was employed as doctor in the German military hospital of St. Ottilien and afterwards worked for the UNRRA hospital.

Interview with Dr. Hanns Kaiser from the German Military Hospital and the succeeding DP hospital, in: Archives of the Dachau Memorial Site, DVD 195
Dr. Kaiser describes how he worked in the huge military hospital of St. Ottilien where about 2000 wounded German soldiers were treated. After the arrival of American troops all politically suspect medical personnel was brought away. He stayed with the remaining doctors and nurses for the treatment of the arriving Jewish camp prisoners from Dachau which were in an extreme condition. About 70 patients died already in the beginning, mostly from spotted fever and Tuberculosis. Another medical problem was the unused good food, especially butter provisions which the patients received as gifts from the army and which caused heavy diarrhea. His department was headed by Dr. Zalman Berman and Dr. Abraham Goldmann.

Erika Grube. Was ich am Ende des Krieges in St. Ottilien erlebt habe (What I experienced in St. Ottilien at the End of the War), in: Renner, Frumentius: Der fünfarmige Leuchter. Beiträge zum Werden und Wirken der Benediktinerkongregation von St. Ottilien, vol. 3, St. Ottilien 1990, p. 103-111
Memories of nurse Erika Grube, originally an artist, who started in 1944 as rehabilitation therapist in the military hospital of St. Ottilien. She describes how after the air raid at Schwabhausen about 50 wounded Jewish patients are brought to the hospital. After the arrival of American troops, the hospital is cleared from German soldiers and transformed into an all-Jewish hospital. The German personal (nurses and doctors) are in part split about the request to help Jewish patients. In detail, she describes her work and experiences with the deeply traumatized patients. Due to her artistic talent, she produces posters and drawings for the Zionist movement within in the hospital.

Lucie Hermann. Lebensstationen (Life Stations), in: Und das Leben ist weitergegangen (And Life went on), Starnberg 1999, p. 141-143
Memories of a nurse at the D.P. Hospital of St Ottilien: „The nurses were put into the empty cells of the monks. We were all people who had lost their homes and who were glad to have a roof and to receive every day food. The Americans cared well for the patients who at the beginning couldn’t digest the excellent food and who became even more ill. It took some time until we had reestablished them. We even received something of the special food for the patients. Some of them were very grateful about our nursing and gave us even precious chocolate or even a banana… After some time, all of us, patients, doctors and nurses, were transferred to Bad Wörishofen because the monks should receive again their monastery. In Bad Wörishofen we were lodged in the best hotels, Park-Hotel and Sonnenhof. Some of the patients needed 2-3 years until they had completely recovered. We had quickly become a community of solidarity. It meant receiving and giving. The patients showed us their gratitude in every possible form. For example, a lawyer helped me to get my widow’s rent again. We all were happy about the freedom which we had found again. Life went on. Couples found each other, children were born. I had even the permission to attend a Jewish baptism ritual which was a special expression of trust because this is normally not allowed for non-Jewish people.“ (p. 141-142).

Volker Gold, Documents and oral history about the air raids and „Jewish tombs“ at Schwabhausen

Sonia Pauline Becker. Symphony on Fire: A Story of Music and and Spiritual Resistance During the Holocaust, New Milford 2007
The daughter of violinist Max Beker and pianist Fania Durmashkin documents the life of her parents as part Lithuanian Orchestras who after the liberation meet as members of the St. Ottilien Orchestra, fall in love, marry and emigrate to the US. The part of their life in St. Ottilien is to be found on pages 125-144. In 1946 the orchestra moves to Fürstenfeldbruck. Confer the website for the book

Rabbi Eli Fishman. On the Wings of Faith, Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem 2016
Rabbi Eli Fishman began writing about his experiences in the Shoah over sixty years ago, soon after his liberation. Surviving Auschwitz and the death march and liberated in Dachau he recuperated in St Ottilien and joined a group of yeshiva students there to continue studying under the guidance of the Chief Rabbi Shmuel Snieg of the American zone in Germany (p. 189-196). Together they prepared the „Survivors‘ Talmud“ for printing which was done in Heidelberg. He was ordained by Rabbi Snieg and served as his assistant until he emigrated to the United States in 1950. His work included the rebuilding of Jewish life in Germany, the republishing of a Talmud, and with the assistance of General Lucius Clay, aiding the „bricha“, the movement of Jews attempting to get to Palestine despite the British blockade. His book has been researched meticulously and contains much unpublished information.
Amazon page


Documentary Films

Documentary film of 1946 about the UNRRA hospital at St. Ottilien (length: 6:22 minutes)
This short documentary film shows in an opening sequence the arrival of a military jeep at the hospital, the work of the medical staff (Dr. Zalman Grinberg and Dr. Chaim Ipp), a tour through the hospital and the delivery ward, rehabilitation exercises and the everyday life of the patients. It concludes with the circumcision rite of a new born child.

Documentary film of the First Conference of Liberated Jews in Munich on January 25-27, 1946 (length: 17:59 minutes)
The documentary film produced and commented by Rabbi Abraham Klausner starts with scenes from different DP camps and shows the first Conference of the Committee of Liberated Jews in Bavaria. The focal point is a rousing speech of Dr. Zalman Grinberg followed by a speech of David Ben-Gurion.

„Long is the Road“, Germany 1949, 77 minutes, Yiddish with English subtitles, Directed by Herbert B. Fredersdorf & Marek Goldstein
A film presenting the Holocaust from a Jewish point of view. The film was shot on location at the Landsberg camp and made by and about Jewish displaced persons. The film follows a Polish Jew (played by Israel Becker) and his family from the thriving Jewish community of Warsaw through the horrors of Auschwitz to the instability of refugee life in a DP camp. It culminates in the hope of rebirth in Israel.

Displaced: Miracle at St. Ottilien, directed by John Michalczyk, 2002, 46 minutes, see:
Based on the true experiences of U.S. Army privates Edward Herman and Robert Hilliard, who were stationed in Germany at the close of World War II. They discovered the horrendous treatment of displaced persons in St. Ottilien, a displaced persons camp run by the U.S. military. In an effort to alleviate the suffering, the two GIs stole food from their own mess and smuggled it into to the camp. Then the two soldiers started a letter writing campaign, which caught the attention of President Harry Truman, who ordered an investigation that led to the end of the abuse.

Creating Harmony: The Displaced Persons‘ Orchestra from St. Ottilien, 2007, directed by John Michalczyk and Roland A. Marsh, 75 minutes, see:
The film tells the story of the Jewish orchestra at the St. Ottilien Displaced Persons camp in Bavaria. From 1945 to 1948, the orchestra played in striped concentration camp uniforms, in front of a banner that read “Am Yisroel Chai” (“The People of Israel Live”). After garnering praise for their inspirational performances all over war ­torn Europe, the orchestra was asked to perform for the International Tribunal during the Nazi trials in Nuremberg and for the first Zionist congress. David Ben­Gurion and Golda Meir were among the orchestra’s fans, and on two occasions the ensemble was joined in Germany by conductor Leonard Bernstein.

Interview with Yetta Marchuck Selengut (2015)
A talk of Yetta Marchuck Selengut about her return to her birth place at St. Ottilien and to Germany after 65 years on the Lowell Gallin Show.

Memorial concert at Delray Beach, Florida, on November 15, 2015



Brenner, Michael: Nach dem Holocaust. Juden in Deutschland 1945-1950, München 1995
German study on the situation of Jews in postwar Germany.

Brenner, Michael (ed.): Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland von 1945 bis zur Gegenwart, München 2012
Overview in German language which in the first part treats the situation of Holocaust survivors in DP camps.

Eder, Angelika: Flüchtige Heimat. Jüdische Displaced Persons in Landsberg am Lech (1945-1960), München 1998
This doctoral thesis documents the history of Displaced Persons in the district of Landsberg am Lech. Some pages are dedicated to the St. Ottilien Hospital which was later integrated into the DP-Camp administration of Landsberg (p. 103-108).

Eder, Angelika: Kunst, Bildung und „Zerstreuung“. Über das kulturelle Leben im Landsberger DP-Lager, in: Themenhefte Landsberger Zeitgeschichte 6 (1996), p. 30-33
German article about the cultural life of the nearby DP camp Landsberg. Online version

Gold, Volker, Die „Judengräber“ von Schwabhausen. Eine Tragödie aus den letzten Kriegstagen. Nach Augenzeugenberichten zusammengestellt, Januar 1990.
Documentation of oral history about the air raids on the train at Schwabhausen, preserved in the Archives of the Memorial Site of Dachau.

Grossmann, Atina: Jews, Germans, and Allies, Princeton 2007
Study on the situation of about 250.000 Jewish survivors as „Displaced Persons“ in post-war Germany, their complex relation to their defeated oppressors and to the Allied occupation forces.

Hintermann, Susanne: Das Kloster St. Ottilien als Hospital und Lager für jüdische Displaced Persons. Neuanfänge jüdischer Kultur und Politik in Bayern, München 2007
Unpublished thesis for the History Faculty of the University of Munich about the Ottilien DP hospital.
PDF-File: Hintermann_Ottilien_2007

Kleinjung, Tilmann: Das DP-Krankenhaus St. Ottilien, St. Ottilien 1990
Unpublished paper of a student of the high school at St. Ottilien including interviews with survivors and rare documents.
PDF-file: Kleinjung_Ottilien_1990

Angelika Königseder and Juliane Wetzel: Waiting for Hope. Jewish Displaced Persons in Post-World War II Germany, Evanston/Illinois (Northwestern University Press) 2001 (German edition: Lebensmut im Wartesaal. Die jüdischen DPs (Displaced Persons) im Nachkriegsdeutschland, Frankfurt a.M., 1. ed. 1994, 2. ed. 2004)
Documentation of the life in the Jewish DP camps which developed their own administration, courts, schools, theatre groups, orchestras, newspapers until the closure of the last camp in 1957

Konrad, Paul Alfons: Die Entbindungsstation des D.P. Hospitals St. Ottilien und deren Bedeutung für die Beziehung von Kloster zu D.P. Hospital, Historical Seminary of the Munich University, Department for Jewish History and Culture, December 2016
Unpublished Bachelor thesis with many helpful insights into the history of the delivery station at the hospital.

KZ-Friedhöfe und Gedenkstätten in Bayern, ed. by the Bayerische Verwaltung der stattlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen, Regensburg 2011
Documentation of the KZ cemetery of Schwabhausen (p. 87-89) and of St. Ottilien (p. 83-86).

Matthé, Eva: The Jewish Cemetery in Sankt Ottilien, St. Ottilien 2003, revised edition 2013
Documentation of the history and tombs of the Ottilien cemetery.

Mankowitz, Ze’ev: The Formation of She’erit Hapleita, Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 20 (1990), p. 337–370
The article describes the role of Dr. Zalman Grinberg within the repatriation project of DPs to Israel.

Renner, Frumentius: Der fünfarmige Leuchter. Beiträge zum Werden und Wirken der Benediktinerkongregation von St. Ottilien, vol. 3, St. Ottilien 1990
Short outline of the history of the DP hospital from the perspective of the returning monks (p. 97-102), impressive documentation of the everyday life in the hospital by the German nurse Erika Grube (p. 103-111).

Wetzel, Juliane: Jüdisches Leben in München 1945-1951. Durchgangsstation oder Wiederaufbau?, in: Miscellanea Bavarica Monacensia. Dissertationen zur Bayerischen Landes- und Münchner Stadtgeschichte, vol. 135, München 1987.
Doctoral thesis in German language on the organization and culture life of Jewish survivors in Munich and surroundings. The Ottilien hospital is treated on pages 232-233.



The documents including photographs, memories, letters, films on the Ottilien DP hospital are spread world wide in several archives whose material is in part online available:

JDC Archives, New York and Jerusalem
Archives of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee with documents and photographs about the St. Ottilien DP Hospital.
United Nations Archives and Records, New York
Records of the UNNRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) about the DP Hospital St. Ottilien.
Archives Nationales, Paris
Documents of the IRO (International Refugee Organization) about the St. Ottilien DP Hospital.
Archives of the International Tracing Service, Bad Arolsen
Lists of patients, personnel and births in the DP Hospital St. Ottilien from 1945 up to spring 1948 (data received from UNRRA, the International Red Cross and the World Jewish Congress New York).
YIVO Archives for Jewish Research, New York
Documentation of Leo W. Schwarz, Director of JDC from 1946-1947.
Archives of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte (IFZ), München
Fi01 (personal collection of DP documents by Wolfgang Jacobmeyer): vol. 80: Report of UNRRA officer Eli Rock to the Anglo-American Commission for Palestine which contains notes about the hospital St. Ottilien as one of the „brightest“ chapter of Jews in Bavaria. Vol. 108: Extensive interview with Rabbi Abraham Klausner who describes how he met Dr. Grinberg and how they managed to transform the military hospital into an all-Jewish facility.
Archives of the Archabbey of St. Ottilien, St. Ottilien
A 11.13.4. Letters of the monastery administration, documentation of the KZ cemetery, documents.
Archives of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, Dachau
A 196 (documents related to Dr Grinberg), A 3047 (documents about the burials at the DP hospital and the cemetery), A 10.203 (death cases in the D.P. hospital St. Ottilien until May 25, 1946), A 43.222 (list of buried persons at the Jewish cemetery St. Ottilien-Eresing from November 5, 1948), R 216 (Interview with Elias Kleiner), DVD 195 (Interview with Hanns Kaiser, German doctor at the DP Hospital in 1945-46).
Ghetto Fighters‘ House Museum, Jerusalem
Memories in Hebrew and photographs.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC
Memories and photographs.
Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem
Memories and photographs.