Repair the World: Group Work in the Deggendorf Displaced Persons Center, 1945-1946

Lorrie Greenhouse Gardella



This paper explores the formation of a transitory community in the UNRRA Displaced Persons Center in Deggendorf, Germany, where Jewish Holocaust survivors used social group work to preserve their past, to restore humane values, and to prepare for new lives.  Social activism through task groups and activity groups affirmed individual and community self-determination while promoting recovery from trauma.  The experience of the She’erith Hapleitah or “surviving remnant,” as they called themselves, though historically specific, has implications for group work with migrants today.



Full Text:



Alissi, A. S. (2009). United States. In A. Gitterman and R. Salmon (Eds.), Encyclopedia of socialwork with groups. New York, NY: Routledge (pp. 6-12)

Araia, B. (2016, June 15-18). Investing in people and culture. Presentation at the 38th Annual Symposium, 38th International Association for Social Work with Groups, New York, NY

Atkin, C. (1945, Late Nov.). Community spirit. Deggendorf Center Review, 2, 1

Barsky, A. E. and Northern, H. (2017). Ethics and values in group work. In C. D. Garvin, L. M. Gutiérrez, and M. J. Galinsky, (Eds.), Handbook of Social Work with Groups, 2nd ed. New York, NY: The Guilford Press (pp. 74-92)

Bauer, Y. (1998). A past that will not go away. In M. Berenbaum M. and A. J. Peck (Eds.), The Holocaust and History: The known, the unknown, the disputed, and the reexamined. Bloomington: Indiana University Press (pp. 12-22)

Bellamy, C. D.; Kriegel, L; Barrenger, S.; Klimczak, M.; Rakfeldt, J.; Benson, V.; Baker, M.; Benedict, P.; Williamson, B.; and MacIntyre, G. (2017). Development of the citizen’s measure into a tool to guide clinical practice and its utility for case managers. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 20, 3, 268-281

Bondy, R. (1989). Elder of the Jews: Jakob Edelstein of Theresienstadt. New York, NY: Grove Press

Buchenholz, K. (1945, early Nov.) Cultural life in our center. Deggendorf Center Revue, 1, 4-7

Casey, S. (2018). Who are ‘we’? Government innovation in an era of white nationalism. Harvard Divinity Bulletin, 46, 1, 2, 40-45

Central Committee of Liberated Jews in Bavaria (1946). She’erit ha-peletah: An extensive list of survivors of Nazi tyranny published so that the lost may be found and the dead brought back to life. Munich, Germany: Author

Cohen, H. (1907). Religious postulates. In N. N. Glatzer (Ed.), (1977), Modern Jewish Thought: A source reader. New York, NY: Schocken Books, (pp. 46-54)

Displaced Persons (2018). The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Displaced Persons: Administration (2018). Holocaust Encyclopedia. Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Doel, M. and Orchard, K. (2006). Group work researchers as temporary insiders. Groupwork, 16, 3, 46-70

Donin, H. H. (1980). To Pray as a Jew: A guide to the prayer book and the synagogue service. New York, NY: Basic Books

Durra, A. (1946, Feb. 15). Das ist unser Pappi Carl Atkin (This is our Daddy Carl Atkin) (Drawing). Deggendorf Center Revue, 7, p. 7

Durra, A. (1946, May 18). Miss Waters: She stole our heart (Drawing). Deggendorf Center Revue, 12, p 8

Eisenhower, D. D. (1945, Sept. 18) (letter). To President Truman concerning Jewish displaced persons [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Eisenhower, D. D. (1945, Sept. 14) (telegram, 2 pages). To President Harry Truman concerning the Harrison Report and Jewish displaced persons [Accesssed 23 November 2018 at]

Eitinger, L. (1998). Holocaust survivors in the past and present. In M. Berenbaum and A. J. Peck (Eds.), The Holocaust and History: The known, the unknown, the disputed, and thereexamined. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998 (pp. 767-784)

Ellerbrock, K. M. (2016, June 15-18). Theses on working with refugees in Germany. Presentation at the 38th Annual Symposium, International Association for Social Work with Groups. New York, NY.

Falck, H. S. (1988). Social Work: The membership perspective. New York, NY: Springer

Gardella, L. G. (2011). The Life and Thought of Louis Lowy: Social work through the Holocaust. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press

Giere, J. (1998). We’re on our way, but we’re not in the wilderness. In M. Berenbaum and A. J. Peck (Eds.), The Holocaust and History: The known, the unknown, the disputed and the reexamined. Bloomington: Indiana University Press (pp. 699-715)

Gitterman, A. and Germain, C. B. (2008). The Life Model of Social Work: Advances in theory and practice, 3rd ed. New York: NY: Columbia University Press

Glassman, U. (2009). Humanistic and democratic values. In A. Gitterman and R. Salmon (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Social Work with Groups. New York, NY: Routledge (pp. 39-41)

Gringauz, S. (1947, Dec.). Jewish destiny as the DP’s see it. Commentary, 4, 6, 501-9 [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Gutfeld, A. (1946, Late Dec.). The empty office. Deggendorf Center Revue 4, 6

Harrison, E. G. (1945, August). Mission to Europe to inquire into the condition and needs of those among the displaced persons in the liberated countries of Western Europe and in the SHAEF area of Germany -- with particular reference to the Jewish Refugees – who may possibly be stateless or non-repatriable, August, 1945 (11 pages) [Accessed 18 November 2018 at]

Helmreich, W. B. (1996). Against All Odds: Holocaust survivors and the successful lives they made in America. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers

Hulme, K. (1953). The Wild Place. Boston: Little, Brown

International Association for Social Work with Groups (2018). The time for groupwork [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

International Federation of Social Workers (2012). Statement of ethical principles [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

International Organization for Migration (2018). Global compact for migration 2018 [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Investing in People and Culture (2018) [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Irene F., 1992. Holocaust testimony (HVT-2404). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. New Haven, CT: Yale University Library

Jacinto, G. A.; Chapple, R. L.; Nyiransekuye, H.; and Molina, O. (2017). Women trauma survivors of the Rwandan genocide: A seven week group building exercise. Groupwork, 27, 1, 49-65

Jacobs, N. (1999). A Concise Companion to the Jewish Religion. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press

Jewish Committee DP Center Deggendorf (1945, May 8). Identification card. Deggendorf, Germany: Author

Jüdische Selbstverwaltung im Jewish Center Deggendorf (Jewish self-government in the Jewish Deggendorf Center) (1946, March 30). Deggendorf Center Revue, 10, 4

Knight, C. (2006). Groups for individuals with traumatic histories: Practice considerations for social workers. Social Work, 51, 20-30

Knight, C. (2009). Trauma survivors. In A. Gitterman and R. Salmon (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Social Work with Groups. New York, NY: Routledge (pp. 240-243)

Königer, J. (1946, April 15). Lieber Freund und Kollege Löwy (Esteemed friend and colleague, Lowy). Deggendorf Center Revue, 11, 1

Konopka, G. (1988). Courage and Love. Edina, MN: Burgess Printing Co

Konopka, G. (1978). The significance of social group work based on ethical values. Social Work with Groups, 1, 123-31

Lambert, J. (2013). Digital Storytelling: Capturing lives, creating community, 4th ed. New York, NY: Routledge

Lang, N. C. (2016). Nondeliberative forms of practice in social work: Artful, actional, analogic. Social Work with Groups, 39, 2, 3, 97-117

Langer, L. L. (1991). Holocaust Testimonies: The ruins of memory. New Haven: Yale University Press

Laub, D. with Allard, M. (1998). History, memory, and truth: Defining the place of the survivor. In M. Berenbaum and A. J. Peck, A. J. (Eds.), The Holocaust and history: The known, the unknown, the disputed, and the reexamined. Bloomington: Indiana University Press (pp. 799-812)

Lowy, L. (1945, early Dec.). Besinnung (Reflection). Deggendorf Center Revue, 3, 2

Lowy, L. (1946, Jan. 12). Kommende Sorgen (Coming Worries). Deggendorf Center Revue, 5, 4

Lowy, L. (1945, late Nov.). Rehabilitation. Deggendorf Center Review, 2, 3

Lowy, L. (1945, early Nov.). Returning. Deggendorf Center Revue, 1, 1

Lowy, L. (1960). Social Work and social statesmanship. Social Work, 5, 2, 97-104

Lowy, L. (1976). The Function of Social Work in a Changing Society: A continuum of practice. Boston: Charles River Books

Lowy, L. (1946, April 15). Zum Farewell (Farewell to you). Deggendorf Center Revue, 11, 1

Makarova, E; Makarov, S.; and Kuperman, V. (Eds.), (2004). University over the Abyss: The story behind 520 lecturers and 2,430 lectures in KZ Theresienstadt 1942-1944, 2nd Ed. Jerusalem: Verba Publishers

Mankowitz, Z. W. (2002). Life between Memory and Hope: The survivors of the Holocaust in Occupied Germany. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press

Molloy, J.K. (2007). Photovoice as a tool for social justice workers. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 18, 2, 39-55

Nadich, J. (2007, Oct. 17). After liberation the Jews had old and new problems.’ In Rabbi Judah Nadich, Writings [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Nadich, J. (1953). Eisenhower and the Jews. New York: Twayne Publishers

National Association of Social Workers (2018). Code of Ethics. Washington, DC: Author

Neusner, J. (2002). Judaism: An introduction. London: Penguin Books

Neuwahl des Jewish Comittees Unseres Centers (New election of the members of the Center Jewish Committee) (1945, early Nov.). Deggendorf Center Revue, 1, 4

Nuremburg Laws (2018). Holocaust Encyclopedia. Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Open Society Foundations (2016, Dec.). Understanding migration and asylum in the European Union [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Oral History Association (2018). Principles and best practices for oral history [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Pawel, U. (2000). My Child Is Back! London: Vallentine Mitchell (2018). Reframing the world [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Rakfeldt, J. (2015). Home environments, memories, and life stories: Preservation of Estonian national identity. Journal of Baltic Studies, 46, 4, 511-542. Rosenbloom, M. H. (1995). Implications of the Holocaust for social work. Families in Society, 76, 9, 567-76

Rosenbloom, M. H. (1994). What can we learn from the Holocaust? Occasional Papers in Jewish History and Thought, 3. New York: Hunter College Jewish Social Studies Program, Hunter College of the City University of New York

Rowe, M. (2015). Citizenship and Mental Health. New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Scheurenberg, K. (1982). Ich Will Leben: Autobiograph (I Want to Live: Autobiography). Berlin: Oberbaumverlag

Schwarz, L. W. (1953) The Redeemers: A saga of the years 1945–1952. New York: Farrar, Straus

Shatz, D.; Waxman, C. I.; and Diament, N. J. (Eds.), (1997). Tikkun Olam: Social responsibility in Jewish thought and law. Oxford, UK: Rowan & Littlefield

Snyder, C. R. (2002). Hope theory: Rainbows of the mind. Psychological Inquiry, 13, 4, 249-275

Snyder, C. R.; Rand, K. L.; and Sigmon, D. R. (2002). Hope theory: A member of the positive psychology family. In C. R. Snyder and S. L. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of Positive Psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, (pp. 257-276).

The Central Committee of the Liberated Jews, 1945 to 1950 (2017, Dec. 20). Jewish Virtual Library [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

The Institute for Community Research (2018) [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Theresienstadt (2018). Holocaust Encyclopedia. Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Together: The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants (2018) [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Truman, H. S. (1945, Dec. 22). President Truman’s Statement and Directive on Displaced Persons [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

UNHCR (2016). Global Trends: Forced displacement 2016 [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

UNHCR (2018). State Parties to the 1951 Convention of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (1946, Dec.). Operational Analysis Papers, No. 13: U.N.R.R.A. displaced persons operation in Europe and the Middle East. London: UNRRA European Regional Office, Division of Operational Analysis

United We Dream (2018) [Accessed 23 November 2018 at]

Verzeichnis der Einwohner des D. P. Centers Deggendorf (Stand vom I. I. 1946) (Registry of the Inhabitants of the Deggendorf Displaced Person Center (from January 1, 1946))

Vida, G. (1967). From Doom to Dawn: A Jewish chaplain’s story of displaced persons. New York, NY: Jonathan David Publishers

Warhaftig, Zorach (1946). Uprooted: Jewish refugees and displaced persons after liberation. New York: Institute of Jewish Affairs of the American Jewish Congress and World Jewish Congress

Wieler, J. And Zeller, S. (Eds.), 1995. Emigrierte sozialarbeit: Portraits vertriebener sozialarbeiter innen nach 1933 (Emigrant social workers: Portraits of social workers who were exiled Aater 1933). Freiburg, Germany: Lambertus

Wyman, M. (1989). DP: Europe’s displaced persons, 1945-1951. Philadelphia: The Balch Institute Press



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Groupwork