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The Central British Fund

The Central British Fund for World Jewish Relief (Central British Fund) rescued 65,000 people from Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, including 10,000 through the Kindertransport.

It was Yvonne de Rothschild (1899-1977), wife of Anthony de Rothschild, who first began to realize the implications of the European situation in the early 1930s. By the autumn of 1933, Yvonne had become president of a society 'to aid German Jewish women children'. With Yvonne, Anthony supported these efforts, co-ordinating activity through the bank’s office at New Court. In December 1938 Anthony de Rothschild was appointed chairman of the Emigration (Planning) Committee, a subcommittee of the Council for German Jewry. 

The Central British Fund for World Jewish Relief was founded in the early months of 1933 by a group of Anglo-Jewish community leaders, in response to the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany on a political platform of anti-Semitism for the purpose of assisting the Jews in Germany. Among the founders were Anthony and Yvonne de Rothschild, Leonard G. Montefiore and Otto Schiff. In October 1934 it was incorporated under the Company's Act 1929, as a Company limited by guarantee having no share capital. It was governed by a Council which consisted of respected members of the Jewish community in Great Britain who by virtue of their contacts with other Jewish organisations co-ordinated the work of all the Jewish bodies which have been interested in assisting the Jewish victims of racial and religious persecution.

The scope of the activities of the Central British Fund was expanded in 1938 to include the Jews of Austria, and after the outbreak of the war to include those Jews from other Eastern and Central European countries who came under Nazi domination. On the outbreak of the war, the Fund changed its name to the Central Council for Jewish Refugees, and in 1944, to the Central British Fund for Jewish Relief and Rehabilitation.   

Central British Fund archives

The majority of papers of the Central British Fund are held by the Wiener Holocaust Library, London, and the London Metropolitan Archives.

Many Central British Fund archives, containing the records of 35,000 people, including birth certificates, immigration papers, school records, and many other documents, have been digitised by World Jewish Relief (as the CBF is today known), and are available on the World Jewish Relief website »

Further papers concerning Jewish refugees and work of the Central British Fund will be found in Partners' Room, Special Correspondence, Anthony de Rothschild, XI/35 series files, and the Secretariat Department, Correspondence Files, 1 series files. Note: many of these papers are closed.

See also They Found Refuge, an account of British Jewry’s work for victims of Nazi oppression, by Norman Bentwich, (London: The Cresset Press, 1956); a copy is available in the Reading Room.

Partners' Room, Special Correspondence of Anthony de Rothschild, 1932-1939

000/1110, 1 file

Files from the Partners' Room, NMR: Special Correspondence of Anthony de Rothschild: Central British Fund Emigration Schemes, (NMR ref 45/1). Further papers concerning support for Jewish charities and causes in the period leading up to the Second World War will be found in the Secretariat Correspondence Files, 1 series.

The Central Council for Jewish Refugees, reports, 1939-1940

000/1557, 2 items

The Central Council for Jewish Refugees: Report for 1939; Speeches delivered at meeting on 6 February 1940. 

The Central Fund for British Jewry, Reports, 1934

000/1557, 000/1671, 2 volumes

First Report of the Allocations Committee of the Central British Fund for German Jewry, 1934; Second Report of the Allocations Committee of the Central British Fund for German Jewry, 1934.

The Central Fund for British Jewry, correspondence and papers, 1934-1952

000/2318, 38 files

These files mainly concern the CBF accounts maintained by NMR, and include subscription lists to CBF funds and appeals. Papers relating to funds and appeals of Central Fund for German Jewry will also be found in the Loans Department series, file 000/401O/1.

The Central Fund for British Jewry, accounts and papers, 1933

000/2030, 1 file

Papers concerning CBF accounts maintained by NMR: correspondence, banking slips and covering letters concerning payments made, (NMR ref 189/1). 

The Central Fund for British Jewry, accounts , 1938-1947

000/2318, 8 volumes

Seven volumes concerning CBF accounts maintained by NMR (NMR ref 209/1-7): No 1 Account, Austrian Appeal Account, No 2 Account, German and Austrian Peace Offering Appeal Account, Emigration Sub-committee Expenses Account, No.3 Account, Special Children’s Account, Special Loan Account, General Account,  No 4 Account, General B Account. An additional single volume, (NMR ref 223/1) concerns CBF Cash Suspense Accounts, 1939-1945. Further papers concerning charitable donations of the Rothschild Partners to the CBF see 000/292.

Sundry correspondence concerning support for Jewish causes, 1940

000/2009, 2 items

Photocopies of two letters from the Churchill Archive (dated 30 November 1944 and one undated) and one telegram (22 October 1940) from Yvonne de Rothschild to Winston Churchill, reacting to various actions by Mr Churchill and soliciting support for Jewish causes.