Records of the OSE-TOZ (Obshchestvo Zdravookhraneniia Evreev/ Society for the Protection of the Health of the Jews), 1904-1940, RG 53
Arranged and described by Elissa Bemporad in 2006 with the assistance of a grant from the Gruss Lipper Family Foundation.YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
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© 2006 YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. All rights reserved.
Electronic finding aid was converted to EAD version 2002 by Yakov Sklyar in November 2006. EAD finding aid customized in ARCHON in 2012. Description is in English.
Title: Records of the OSE-TOZ (Obshchestvo Zdravookhraneniia Evreev/ Society for the Protection of the Health of the Jews), 1904-1940, RG 53
ID: RG 53 FA
Extent: 0.85 Linear Feet
Arrangement: Based on the geographic area in which OSE and TOZ institutions and leaders operated, this collection is arranged according to locality. The collection is comprised of 17 folders.
Established in 1912 in St. Petersburg by a group of Jewish doctors, lawyers and prominent public figures, OZE (OSE) sought to create an All-Russian Jewish welfare system with the goal of promoting the study and knowledge of medical and sanitary practices, detecting and curing diseases among Jews, preventing epidemics, and creating living conditions conducive to the normal physical and mental development of Jewish children. Established in Poland, in 1921, TOZ remained closely associated with OZE (OSE), sharing the same program of activities. Because of World War I and its disarraying consequences, especially in the eastern regions of the Polish state, TOZ concentrated its relief efforts primarily on battling contagious diseases and epidemics caused by poverty, malnourishment and the deplorable sanitary conditions of the Jewish population. The OSE-TOZ Collection is comprised of documents that were assembled at the YIVO Archives in New York City. The Collection is of mixed provenance and fragmentary nature, and consists of miscellaneous materials that relate to the activities of OSE and TOZ in Eastern Europe, and to some extent, in Western Europe.
The collection includes materials pertaining to: OSE activities in Russia, and institutions organized by OZE (OSE) personnel and sponsored by the JDC in Ukraine and Belorussia, during the Soviet period; activities organized by the OSE main office in Berlin, targeted mainly at Eastern European Jews, in the 1920s; activities organized by the Vilna OSE Branch and the Vilna TOZ Committee in the city of Vilna and Vilna region in the interwar period; mission of the OSE delegation in New York, in 1925, and its meetings with leaders of JDC and other Jewish relief organizations to gather support for OSE activities in Eastern Europe; OSE activities in Latvia (Riga, Rēzekne and Liepai︠a︡) in the late 1930s. The collection also includes miscellaneous records (related primarily to the OSE-TOZ branches in Vilna and the Vilna region).
The collection consists of reports, minutes of meetings, financial records, statistical surveys, posters, printed material, and medical records. A large section of the collection consists of correspondence between OSE and TOZ main offices and local branches throughout Eastern Europe, correspondence to and from official state agencies and the Jewish organizations, and correspondence to and from Jewish doctors and leading figures active in the two Jewish organizations. These include Dr. Naum Gergel (one of the founders of OSE in Berlin, member of the Executive Committee of OSE Berlin, and prominent member of Yidgezkom, ORT and JDC), Dr. B. Dubinsky (prominent activist in the Riga OSE Committee from 1939-1940), and Dr. Tsemakh Szabad (chairman of the Vilna Branch of TOZ).
The collection provides information about the relations of OSE and TOZ with other Jewish relief organizations, most importantly with the JDC. In the late 1930s, in particular, OSE activities in Eastern Europe depended more and more on the financial support of the JDC. The Vilna records, which represent a noteworthy section of the collection, provide valuable information about the collaboration between OSE and TOZ on the local level, the creation of a temporary OSE-TOZ Committee in the city and the final liquidation of OSE. The Latvia records, which also make up for a considerable segment of the collection, provide information about OSE activities in the critical years 1938-1940, the attempt to coordinate Jewish relief from the Paris OSE Main Office, and the growing needs of the Jewish population of Latvia.
Overall, the material in this collection bears witness to the impressive number and variety of institutions and activities organized by OSE and TOZ to bring support to the Jewish population. These were all-embracing Jewish national organizations that strove to make available health care and social services to all Jews, without distinction of religious, cultural and political background. As the announcement for the “Week of TOZ” in Vilna read, “The Health Week must be our greatest propaganda effort because health is the most precious treasure for the individual and for the nation (folk).”
Established by a group of Jewish doctors, lawyers and prominent public figures in St. Petersburg, OSE sought to create an All-Russian Jewish welfare system with the goal of promoting the study and knowledge of medical and sanitary practices, detecting and curing diseases among Jews, preventing epidemics, and creating living conditions conducive to the normal physical and mental development of Jewish children. It incorporated existing communal philanthropic organizations (such as “Bikkur holim,” “Linot ha-tsedek,” “Rofe holim,” etc.) and a few modern medical institutions (such as the Jewish Hospital in Kiev and the Jewish Children Hospital in Warsaw).
Beginning in 1913-1914, OZE organized summer camps for needy children, consultations for mother and infant health protection, clinics, and Drop of Milk stations to promote breast-feeding and educate women about modern methods of infant care. By August 1917, there were 45 OZE branches (with ca. 15.000 members) operating in 102 different cities in the territories of the former Russian Empire. They maintained 90 out-patient clinics, 19 hospitals, four clinics for children with tuberculosis, 19 feeding centers and nine dining-halls for children, 125 nurseries (with 12.000 children), two sanatoria for tuberculosis patients, 24 summer camps, and many other medical and child-care facilities.
At the time of World War I and the Civil War, OZE (OSE) focused most of its efforts on bringing special relief measures to the hundreds of thousands of Jewish war refugees, deportees, and pogrom victims, preventing the spread of mass epidemics and actively collaborating with YEKOPO (Jewish Relief Committee for War Victims) and Yidgezkom (in Yiddish, Yidisher gezelshatlekher komitet - in Russian, Evreiskii Obshchestvenniy Komitet) or the Jewish Social Committee for the Help of Pogrom Victims. While OZE was officially closed down in Soviet Russia by 1921, its leaders and activists continued to provide assistance to the Jewish population through different socio-medical activities and facilities, mainly with the support of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Medical-sanitary institutions continued to operate in the cities and shtetlekh of Ukraine and Belorussia, providing assistance especially to the so-called “lishchentsy,” who had been disenfranchised and were consequently not entitled to state medical services. A large percentage of “lishchentsy” were Jewish.
Following the end of the war, branches of OSE spread to the newly established states of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Rumania, as well as to other countries in Central and Western Europe, thus becoming a global Jewish organization for health care and children’s welfare. In December 1922, after the Soviets dissolved the organization, a small group of OSE activists (led by Dr. M. Gran) fled Soviet Russia and established in Berlin the OSE World Union (OSE Weltfarband). In the mid-1920s, the old acronym with a slight change was fitted with the new name “Oeuvre De Secour Aux Enfants” (OSE), or Society for the Aid of Children. The general meaning of the acronym of its French name, with which the organization became known, remained the same, as did its main purpose of Jewish social welfare organization. In 1933, after Hitler’s rise to power, OSE transferred its headquarters from Berlin to Paris (and from 1940-1945 to New York City).
Established in Poland, in 1921, TOZ remained closely associated with OSE, sharing the same program of activities. Because of World War I and its disarraying consequences, especially in the eastern regions, TOZ concentrated its relief efforts primarily on battling contagious diseases and epidemics caused by poverty, malnourishment and the deplorable sanitary conditions of the Jewish population. In collaboration with OSE, TOZ carried out a broad educational campaign to promote general hygiene and teach methods of preventing the spread of skin and eye diseases (ringworm and trachoma) and tuberculosis. Lectures were delivered in community centers and schools, articles were published in medical periodicals, and propaganda posters and flyers (mostly produced by the Berlin OSE Committee) were distributed throughout the towns of Eastern Europe.
In Poland, TOZ published three periodicals related to social, medical and sanitary issues. Published in Vilna from 1923 to 1937, the monthly and later by-weekly Folks-Gezunt was a popular-scientific journal for the broad Jewish public. Its editor, Dr. Tsemakh Szabad, was chairman of the Vilna TOZ Committee, as well as a co-founder of YIVO. Gezunt was a youth magazine for Jewish school-children. TOZ Yedyes (Wiadomości Toz-u, in Polish) was a Polish-Yiddish bilingual scientific journal issued in Warsaw, from 1927; in January 1931, its name changed to Sotsyale meditsin in Yiddish, and Medycyna Społeczna in Polish.
In the interwar period, TOZ and OSE established an impressive network of health clinics, Drop of Milk stations, Mother and Infant clinics, x-ray departments, sanatoria and convalescent homes; supported orphanages and hospitals; and organized sport activities, supplemental nourishment programs for poor children, and summer and day camps. In Poland, TOZ and OSE collaborated as separate organizations until 1926. After a short period of operating as a single organization (under the name OSE-TOZ), in 1927 TOZ took over the OSE institutions in Poland and Lithuania. TOZ remained closely associated with OSE headquarters in Western Europe. The JDC in New York also provided financial support for projects to improve the living conditions of the impoverished Jewish masses, distributed food, helped to set up public health care institutions, and aided schools and vocational programs.
By 1939, TOZ was responsible for 368 medical and public health institutions located in 72 different cities and towns in Poland, and employed approximately 1,000 doctors, nurses, dentists, medical assistants, instructors and teachers. Annual membership fees were paid by 15,443 supporters.
The outbreak of World War II and the Nazi invasion of Europe put an end to the flourishing activities and growth of TOZ: its institutions were closed down in 1942, its property confiscated and looted, and most of its patients and personnel killed.
Open to researchers by appointment with the Chief Archivist.
For more information, contact: Chief Archivist, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 email: email@example.com
Preferred Citation: Published citations should read as follows:Identification of item, date (if known); YIVO Archives; Records of the OZE-TOZ (Obshchestvo Zdravookhraneniia Evreev/ Society for the Protection of Jewish Health); RG 53; folder number.
Browse by Series:
Series1:]] OZE-TOZ OZE-TOZ (Obshchestvo Zdravookhraneniia Evreev/Society for the Protection of the Health of the Jews), 1904-1940
- Series 1: OZE-TOZ OZE-TOZ (Obshchestvo Zdravookhraneniia Evreev/Society for the Protection of the Health of the Jews), 1904-1940
- Folder 1: OZE, Russia and USSR, 1913-1926
Materials pertaining to OZE activities in Russia, 1913-1926. These provide information about the 1914 general meeting of OZE members in St. Petersburg and the establishment of OZE branches in different cities of the Russian Empire; and include documents from 1918-1920 on the collaboration between YEKOPO and OZE.
Miscellaneous materials about OZE activities in the USSR. These include letters, telegrams and reports by Jewish activists and doctors about medical activities sponsored by OZE in Soviet cities and shtetlekh (Leningrad, Odessa and Odessa district, Kiev and Kiev district, Krutnoye, Elizavetgrad, Nikolaev, etc.), targeted primarily at the Jewish declassed population, 1923-1926 ca.; budget for medical activities in Russia, 1925-1926; appeals to OZE-JDC in Berlin for financial assistance to organize medical facilities, hospitals, tuberculosis sanatoriums and children’s summer camps, for the Jewish population of the shtetl of Kodyma, Odessa district, Ekaterinoslav and Belorussia; letters to Dr. Naum Gergel, including personal correspondence,1922-1925; and an article by Gergel against the Evsektsiia and the role of the Jewish Section of the Communist Party in opposing the emigration from the Soviet Union of Jewish victims of the 1919-1921 pogroms, early 1920s.
- Folder 2: OZE-OSE, Berlin, circa 1923-1930
- Miscellaneous materials pertaining to the OZE Central Committee in Berlin, primarily correspondence to and from the OZE Berlin Committee, ca. 1923-1930. These include a letter by the Berlin OZE Committee to the Polish General Consulate in Berlin, 1923; a letter by the central organ of TOZ, the Vilna-issued periodical Folks-Gezunt, to the Berlin OZE Central Committee, with a report on the periodical’s financial situation, a request for funding and advice for future activities, 1924; a letter from the Berlin OZE Committee of the Jewish Student Union in Berlin, 1925; an appeal from Davos in Switzerland to the Berlin OZE Central Committee to subsidize a kosher kitchen for sick Jews, 1925; a letter from the Kovno OZE Branch to Berlin about the Kolotove summer camp for children suffering from tuberculosis, 1925; a letter from the Byałistok OZE Branch with the plan and budget for a new institute for the cure of tuberculosis, 1925; a letter by the Warsaw TOZ Branch to the Berlin OZE Committee ordering brochures and a film on preventive hygiene measures against tuberculosis and venereal diseases; a letter by the Berlin OZE Committee to Dr. Ts. Szabad, in praise of Folks-Gezunt, 1928; announcements of lectures and events organized by OZE in Berlin, 1925-1930 ca.; and advertisement of a competition organized by OZE in Berlin for the planning of a Jewish health institution in Kaunas, Lithuania.
- Folder 3: OZE-TOZ, Vilna, 1919-1936
- Materials pertaining to the Vilna Branches of OZE and TOZ, 1919-1936. The bulk of the documents are letters to and from the Vilna Committees of the two organizations. The correspondence includes a letter from the Vilna OZE Committee to the Administration of the Sick Fund (Kasa Chorych) of the city of Vilna, 1924; greetings from the Vilna OZE Committee for the Convention of the Jewish Communities of the Eastern Border Provinces, 1926; a memorandum by the Vilna TOZ Committee to the Warsaw TOZ Central Committee about the Vilna TOZ taking over the liability of Vilna OZE and local OZE institutions, because of OZE financial difficulties, 1927; a report to the Vilna municipality informing about TOZ administering OZE institutions; correspondence to Dr. Ts. Szabad from TOZ Central Committee in Warsaw and OZE Central Committee in Berlin, dated 1928 and 1925 respectively; a report from the Vilna OZE Committee to the city’s Town Council about OZE expenses and subsidies, 1925; a letter from the Vilna TOZ Branch addressed to prominent local Jewish women calling for support to create a Help Committee for the Home for Abandoned and Orphaned Children in Vilna, 1931; a letter from the Vilna TOZ Committee to Zalman Reisen inviting him to contribute to the special issue of Sotsyale meditsin, in celebration of the 70th birthday of Dr. Ts. Szabad, 1934. The materials also include two certificates of graduation from the two-year TOZ School of Nursing in Vilna, of 1934 and 1936 respectively
- Folder 4: OZE-TOZ, Vilna, Assistance for Children, circa 1919-1939
- Materials pertaining to Vilna OZE and TOZ institutions for children, ca. 1919-1939. These include by-weekly financial reports from the Vilna OZE kitchen for children under 2, on Pohulanka Street no. 15, from August 1919 to January 1920; the budget of the OZE summer camp in Zwierzyniec, Vilna, summer 1926; report of the Vilna OZE Committee about the plan to build the Vilna OZE summer camp, 1926; average per diem cost per child in summer camps, 1926; report of the Vilna TOZ summer camp in Pospieszki, 1927; letter from the Yiddish Folks School in Horodyszcze (Gorodishche) to Dr. Ts. Szabad, 1933; and a letter from the Vilna TOZ Committee to TsBK (Tsentraler bildungs-komitet), about supplying meals for school-children, 1935
- Folder 5: OZE-TOZ, Vilna, 1919-1934
- Record of outgoing mail by the Vilna OZE and TOZ branches
- Folder 6: OZE-TOZ, Vilna, Expenses, 1923-1930
- Records of expenses pertaining to the Vilna OZE-TOZ institutions, 1923-1930. These provide information about operating expenses for the TOZ periodical Folks-Gezunt, the Pospieszki summer camp, doctors and patients of local OZE institutions, and budgets of TOZ branches throughout Poland, including the Vilna region (Lida, Nowogródek, Glubokie, Swięciany).
- Folder 7: OZE-TOZ, Vilna Regional Committee, circa 1923-1928
- Materials pertaining to the Vilna Regional Committee of OZE and TOZ, ca. 1923-1928. The bulk of these materials are minutes of meetings. Some of the topics debated at the plenary meetings of the OZE Vilna Regional Committee include TOZ joining the OZE World Federation, the renovation of the bath-house in the Vilna shul-hoyf, the financial condition of the Vilna Maccabi, and summer and winter-camps. Letters to and from the Vilna Regional Committee of OZE and its minutes’ meetings also provide information on the relationship between TOZ and OZE, the negotiations between the two organizations, their merger and the final taking over of TOZ of the OZE Regional Committee in 1927.
- Folder 8: OZE-TOZ, Vilna, Health and Sanitary Questionnaires and Forms, 1920s-1930s
- Questionnaires and forms for the documentation of the hygienic and medical conditions of institutions and individuals in and around Vilna, ca. 1920s-1930s. The forms include a personal questionnaire for auditors in the OZE School of Nursing, medical registration cards for school-children, questionnaires about the health conditions of Jewish teachers, forms about the sanitary conditions of OZE schools, schedule of medical services of OZE and TOZ clinics
- Folder 9: TOZ, Vilna, 1940
- Materials pertaining to the Vilna TOZ Committee and the relief efforts for Jewish refugees in the city, early 1940. The documents include minutes and reports by TOZ doctors and hygiene experts about their visits to the yeshivas that relocated from Polish occupied territories to the city of Vilna (Lomzhe, Ramayles and Ostrov Mazowieck yeshivas), about the sanitary conditions of the buildings, the food-supply and the needs of the refugees (mostly yeshiva students); and letters by the Vilna TOZ Committee to the Vaad ha-yeshivot (Council of the Vilna Yeshivas), complaining about the poor sanitary and health conditions in which the refugees lived, February 1940.
- Folder 10: OZE-TOZ, Printed Materials, 1920s-1930s
- OZE and TOZ printed materials including posters, educational flyers, invitations and announcements of events held in Vilna, Berlin, Warsaw, Kiev, Riga and Danzig, in the 1920s-1930s. These include educational flyers on infant care, prevention of trachoma and tuberculosis; appeals to parents to vaccinate children against scarlet fever; invitations to the TOZ Purim Ball, to yearly meetings of TOZ members, fundraising cultural events, OZE-TOZ exhibitions, inaugurations of new buildings; announcements of the “Week of OZE” and “Week of TOZ” events to spread knowledge about medical and health issues; announcement by the Kiev Branch of the All-Ukrainian OZE to organize three-month courses for kindergarten educators; announcements of public lectures, medical consultations, and gymnastics festivals; postcards, entry tickets to events, fundraising stamps for OZE-TOZ organizations, and posters advertising lotteries in support of OZE; an appeal from the OSE-ORT-Emigrdirect Commission to provide assistance to the Jews of Eastern Europe.
- Folder 11: Fragments of Medical Papers and Notes, 1904-circa 1925
- Miscellaneous medical papers, notes and bills
- Folder 12: OZE Delegation in New York, 1925
- Correspondence between the OZE Central Headquarters in Berlin and the OZE delegation in New York, February - July 1925. The letters and telegrams from New York to Berlin provide information about the delegation’s efforts to gather support for OZE activities in Eastern Europe, trips to American cities (Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, etc.) for fundraising purposes, meetings with representatives of JDC, ORT and Workmen’s Circle, activities in Soviet Russia supported by the JDC-OZE Commission, and meetings with Landsmanshaftn. The letters and telegrams from Berlin to New York provide information about OZE activities and events organized in Berlin and the OZE branches in Byałistok, Kaunas, Vilna region, Latvia, and London. The correspondence also includes a few letters between the OZE delegation in New York and representatives of relief organizations in Cherson, Crimea and Leningrad.
- Folder 13: OZE, Latvia, 1937-1940
- Correspondence from the OZE Committee in Riga to OZE branches in Latvia, including Daugavpils (Dvinsk), Liepai︠a︡ (Libau), Rēzekne (Rezshitse), Lyutzin (Ludza), Livani (Livenhof), Krāslava (Kraslavke), and Varaklani (Varklian), February 1937 - August 1940. The correspondence provides information about the scope of medical and cultural activities organized by OZE in the Latvian provinces; literature, OZE calendars and medical supplies sent to the provincial branches; instructions to legalize OZE activities in the provinces; fundraising activities; budgets and statistical information about OZE institutions in the various branches.
- Folder 14: OZE, Latvia, Liepai︠a︡, 1937-1940
- Correspondence from the OZE branch in Liepai︠a︡ (Libau) to the OZE Committee in Riga, January 1937- May 1940. The correspondence includes budgets, requests of subsidies, notification receipt of medical supplies, financial reports and information on the medical and childcare facilities coordinated by the OZE branch in Liepai︠a︡. The correspondence provides evidence of increased activity of the Liapaia branch in 1937-1939 because of the growing needs of the local Jewish population; and reference to financial support from the Liepai︠a︡ landsmanshft in New York, in particular from Yudl Mark. A significant portion of the correspondence is addressed to Dr. B. Dubinsky, 1939-1940.
- Folder 15: OZE, Latvia, Rēzekne, 1937-1940
- Correspondence from the OZE branch in Rēzekne (Rezshitse) to the OZE Committee in Riga, January 1937- August 1940. The correspondence includes budgets, requests of subsidies and medical supplies, and reports on OZE activities organized by the Rēzekne branch (in particular, summer camp, dentist office, and Drop of Milk station).
- Folder 16: OSE, Paris, 1937-1940
- Correspondence from the OSE headquarters in Paris to the OZE Committee in Riga, October 1937 – August 1940. The correspondence provides information about requests of medical equipment, provisions and subventions; activities, reports and budgets of OZE institutions in Latvia (including Riga, Daugavpils (Dvinsk), Liepai︠a︡ (Libau), Rēzekne (Rezshitse), Lyutzin (Ludza)); subsidies to OZE branches in Eastern Europe; negotiations between OSE and JDC to increase financial assistance to OSE branches in Eastern Europe; the trip of Lord and Lady Marley to Eastern Europe. The correspondence dated 1939 provides information about OSE attempts to coordinate from Paris medical and food supplies and financial assistance for Polish Jewish refugees and German and Austrian Jewish doctors; and attempts to organize a combined relief effort JDC-OSE-Red Cross to bring medical supplies to Poland. The correspondence includes a letter from Paris to Riga, dated, October 1939, in which the OSE headquarters explain the use of French in its letters to Riga (as opposed to Yiddish or Russian), for censorship reasons. The correspondence also includes a few letters from the OSE headquarters in Paris to Oslo, Warsaw, Daugavpils (Dvinsk) and Kaunas; and a telegram from New York to Riga.
- Folder 17: OZE-TOZ, Miscellaneous, undated, 1927-1931
- Includes material about OZE branches in Lithuania (Kaunas, Šiauliai, Panevėžys, Ukmergė, Marijampolė, Vilkaviškis, Uteana, etc.); fragments of a report by Abraham Kotik on hygiene propaganda in schools; correspondence from the Warsaw TOZ Committee (including a letter to the editors of the periodical Folks-Gezunt about the publication of a brochure by Dr. Ts. Szabad’s, and a letter to the newspaper Vilner Tog about the publication of a demographic study of the Jews of Poland, 1931); and a letter from the TOZ Branch in Nieśwież to the Jewish community of Baranowicze about the TOZ summer camp, 1927.