The fate of Displaced Persons was one of the greatest challenges met by the international community in years immediately after the Second World War. By mid-1947, the Jewish DP population had reached already about 250,000 people housed in hundreds of DP centres. One of the most important issue in DP camps was that of instilling an interest in learning and work into those who had previously had to perform slave labor and endure the concentration camps. Straight after the liberation, a handful of veteran ORT workers - headed by Jacob Oleiski, former director of ORT in Lithuania - established the first vocational course at Landsberg, near Dachau in the American zone of Germany. In December 1945, the first training centre in the British zone was instituted at Bergen-Belsen. By the end of 1947, ORT had become a network of over 700 courses located in the DP camps of Europe. The phenomenal number of 22,620 persons was enrolled that year, almost one-tenth of the DP population of the time. 934 teachers taught more than fifty trades. The vocational schools were not only equipping students with new skills but also with confidence to imagine a future in which they could use it. On completion of any ORT course the students received a certificate which would prove to be a valuable document for those seeing to emigrate.
Katarzyna Person, Royal Holloway College, University of London, London, UK
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