ORT was founded in 1880 as a Russian Jewish organization to promote vocational training of skilled trades and agriculture and functioned there until the outbreak of World War I, which together with the Bolshevik Revolution caused a virtual cessation of its activities. In 1920 ORT was reestablished in Berlin as an international organization and began operating in Russia and the countries that had formerly been part of Russia - Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Bessarabia, as well as in Germany, France, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the offices were moved from Berlin to Paris and subsequently to Marseilles after the capture of Paris by the Germans in 1940. After World War II the headquarters of World ORT Union were set up in Geneva, from which they later moved to London, where they reside to this day.
The files in this collection are from the headquarters of World ORT Union in Geneva, which signed an agreement in 1981 with the Central Archives to deposit the material in Jerusalem. There are two parts to the collection:
• From 1920 until the end of World War II
• From 1945 until the 1970’s
The files relating to the Russian period between 1880 and 1917 were apparently lost. Photocopies of isolated reports and minutes from the years 1880-1914, however, are to be found in the World ORT Union archives.
A partial list of the ORT files is available in the archives.