Three years after the end of World War II, thousands of people remained stranded in European displaced-persons camps. Some sought and gained asylum in the United States, where they hoped to start a new life. Having recently taken a beginners’ class in photography, Clemens Kalischer was drawn to the New York City waterfront to record the arrival of the displaced persons. The scene was reminiscent of his own life six years earlier.

In 1942, wearing rags and weighing only ninety pounds, Kalischer had landed in the U.S. after three years in the forced-labor camps of Vichy, France. His family and others had been rescued by Eleanor Roosevelt, who arranged for a few emergency visas just before the Nazis’ total takeover of France. Those Jews who remained behind were shipped to the death camps in Poland.

Shortly after these photographs (and the one on the cover) were taken, they appeared in Common Ground, a magazine published by the Common Council for New Americans. That publication led to other assignments for Kalischer, and was the start of his career. He returned to these pictures recently because of his participation in One by One, a program that brings together descendents of Nazis and survivors of the Holocaust for healing and reconciliation. He says it has helped him to regain “a reasonable amount of hope and faith.”

— Ed.

The photographs from this selection are available as a PDF only. Click here to download.