The Central Information Bureau for Jewish War Sufferers in the Far East was founded in 1917 by Sam Mason, a special delegate sent by HIAS in New York to deal with the problems of refugees attempting to reach America (and other countries) via the Far East. The main office was established in Harbin, but branches were set up in Yokohama, Japan and Vladivostock in the Soviet Union as well as in other places in the region. Very soon after its foundation, the Civil War in the Soviet Union disrupted all communications from the West and for a little over a year, virtually the only way to contact relatives in the Soviet Union was via China. At this time, the Central Information Bureau was in contact with many Jewish organizations in Siberia and other parts of the Soviet Union and provided a window of sorts into this otherwise closed world.
The Bureau changed its official name to The Far Eastern Jewish Central Information Bureau in 1923 and took its cable address "Daljewcib", which became the organization name in everyday use. At this time, Max Birman became involved in the Bureau's work and managed it until its dissolution some 25 years later.
Starting in the mid-30s, the Bureau began to seek employment for German Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution and dealt with a few thousand such cases, sending the refugees to various places throughout the Far East. Connected with HIAS since 1918, the Bureau now worked in very close cooperation with the umbrella Jewish refugee organization, HICEM (an amalgamation of HIAS, JCA and the Emigdirect organization of Berlin). Starting from 1938, the numbers of refugees requesting asylum began to grow, and with the outbreak of World War II, refugees from Eastern Europe joined the German Jews. With the Japanese occupation in the early 30s, the situation of the Jews in Harbin deteriorated, until in September 1939, the Bureau moved its head office to Shanghai. At that time, Shanghai remained one of the few places to which entry was relatively easy.
Throughout 1939 and 1940, Jews continued to flood into Shanghai, and at the outbreak of the Pacific war there were some 19,000 Jewish refugees. During the early years of the war, the Bureau was in contact with a number of Jewish emigration organizations, both in Berlin and other countries under Nazi domination. The Bureau also maintained correspondence with Jewish refugee organizations in neutral countries and with the Red Cross in Geneva. As the war progressed, refugee movement became impossible, and the Bureau's main task became the protection of the Jewish refugees in Shanghai.
At the end of the war, the Bureau formed part of the worldwide chain of organizations trying to trace Jewish refugees and worked hard to place Shanghai refugees in secure countries. This work continued for a number of years after the war.
The collection contains 210 administration files and close to 3400 personal files.