Youth Aliyah


 Somewhat ironically, on January 30th 1933, the day of the Nazi Youth Aliyah (PHG\1054961)ascent to power, Youth Aliyah was founded. The brainchild of Recha Freier, Youth Aliyah's mission was to combine two basic expressions of Zionism – rescuing Diaspora Jews, and agricultural development in Palestine. Youth Aliyah acted as an umbrella organization of the Zionist youth movements in Germany, and strove to promote aliyah among Jewish youth on the logistical level, as well as to prepare them on the educational one. According to Freier's vision, the children of Youth Aliyah were to be integrated in various kibbutzim in the country, and to continue their education, while taking an active part in agricultural activity. In order to fulfill her vision, Freier approached the heads of the Zionist Movement, and at the 18th Zionist Congress it was decided to found an office that would oversee the various activities regarding the immigration of German Jewish youth to Palestine. Arthur Ruppin and Chaim Weizmann headed this office. They approached Henrietta Szold and requested that she manage the project, a request she accepted. She was regarded as "the mother of Youth Aliyah", and had a major influence on the ideological and logistic trends of the organization.
  Szold, a teacher and a social worker, cultivated the educational aspects of the organization's activities. With Szold at the helm, the organization operated psychological clinics, staffed with psychologists and social workers, in order to tackle the logistic and social challenges facing the children of Youth Aliyah, who had left behind their families, as well as everything they knew. In the countries of origin, the organization operated with committees comprising Zionist activists (many of them women), but also non-Jews, who identified with the humane aspect of the organization. In Palestine, the organization's activities were carried out in cooperation with the kibbutz movement, which absorbed the children and integrated them into the various kibbutzim in the country. There they were given emotional support that was to be an alternative to the families they had left behind. From its establishment until the end of World War II, Youth Aliyah facilitated the immigration of more than 15,000 Jewish children. During its 55 years of activity, it brought more than 35,000 Jewish youth to Palestine/Israel.  
  Today, on the 80th anniversary of the founding of Youth Aliyah, the Central Zionist Archives is happy to offer a small glimpse into the Youth Aliyah archives that are housed at the CZA. The archives comprise tens of thousands of historic documents; a few of them are displayed before you here.