Köhl, Julius (fl 1935-1982): personal and official papers and correspondence

Scope and Content

Copies of correspondence to and from Julius Köhl, 1935-1982, chiefly relating to the plight of Jews in Nazi occupied Europe. Many organisations and individuals are represented notably the The Hilfsverein für jüdische Flüchtlinge im Shanghai (Aid organisation for Jewish refugees in Shanghai)(HIJEFS) although several other Jewish refugee organisations are also represented, namely Agudas Jisroel, Schweizerischer Israelitischer Gemeindebund and Va'ad Hahatsala. The majority deal with the fate of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. In particular they document attempts to rescue individuals, families and larger groups by channelling funds and securing visas for that purpose. The provision of food parcels to concentration camp inmates is also reported. In addition the tensions which sometimes arose between the different refugee organisations are reflected here.

Administrative / Biographical History

Julius Köhl came from a Chassidic family in Poland from where he moved to Switzerland in early childhood. He completed his doctorate on Polish-Swiss trade relations in the summer of 1939 at the University of Bern. From 1938 until the end of the war he was employed by the Polish Consular service, Bern. Thanks to a sympathetic head of Consular service, Alexander Lados, a non-Jew, and with the use of the diplomatic pouch, Köhl was able to circumvent state censorship enabling news about the murder of Jews to reach America and to facilitate communication between Jewish relief organisations in their attempts to rescue Jews.

In 1949 he moved to America with his Swiss-born wife and 2 children where he eventually became a property developer.

During the course of his war-time activities he formed close ties with a number of individuals and organisations intent on rescuing Europe's Jews. There follows a brief description of two of those organisations which feature most prominently in this collection.

The Hilfsverein für jüdische Flüchtlinge im Shanghai (Aid Organisation for Jewish refugees in Shanghai)(HIJEFS) was founded by Recha Sternbuch and her husband, Isaac, in 1941, with the objective of assisting rabbinical students who had fled to the Far East. It soon expanded its activities to include the provision of passports to non-religious Jews from many European countries and changed its name to Hilfsverein für jüdische Flüchtlinge im Ausland (Aid Organisation for Jewish Refugees Abroad).

Va'ad Hahatsala (Rescue Committe) was established in 1939 and was based in the USA at the offices of its parent body, the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States. It was an emergency committee formed initially to provide financial support to more than 20 Talmudic academies which had left Poland for Lithuania. It continued to provide relief throughout the war to Jews all over Europe. It had offices in Montreux, Switzerland. Both Julius Köhl and Isaac Sternbuch were on the committee.


Chronological by material type.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Julius Köhl

Other Finding Aids

Description exists to this archive on the Wiener Library's online catalogue www.wienerlibrary.co.uk.

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Howard Falksohn.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies can be made for personal use. Permission must be sought for publication.