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ARCHIVE HIGHLIGHTS: World War II and its aftermath

Prior to the outbreak of WWII the AFSC was active in Spain where a violent civil war was taking its toll. In 1937, AFSC quickly set up feeding programs and hospitals paying special attention to the needs of children and expectant mothers. In 1939, as the Spanish Civil War drew to a close the AFSC continued to work on behalf of the thousands of Spanish refugees who were forced to flee the violence over the French border. Added to this were new waves of refugees, displaced from the invading Nazi army. AFSC worked in the refugee camps bringing food, clothing, medical supplies, and helping the population of refugees obtain funds and the legal paperwork needed to better their situation.

The Archives offers a wealth of primary sources from WW II and its aftermath. Photos, reports and letters demonstrate our continued emphasis on the welfare of women and children, our concern for prisoners of war, and our refusal to take sides where human life was concerned. One of the most interesting aspects of the sample documents below is the rigorous self-assessment of our actions and use of resources. How could we do better? Be more efficient? Reports also reveal an internal dialogue about how AFSC could avoid having our work identified with the United States government and its agenda, as opposed to remaining a neutral, humanitarian organization with no political aims.

Two finding aids, created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum using AFSC records from France and North Africa, appear at the bottom of this page.

Prelude: Spanish Civil War relief

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