November 12, 1945
The dining room of Kibbutz Buchenwald, Germany
Kibbutz Buchenwald was the first agricultural training camp established in Germany after the Holocaust. The concept for establishing an agricultural training camp had emerged during the Holocaust amongst a group of inmates in Buchenwald concentration camp, by religious and secular inmates from Germany and Poland, the majority having pioneering backgrounds or Zionist affiliations before the war. In June 1945, about one month after the liberation, and with the assistance of two Americans, military rabbi chaplains, the founding group received a confiscated German farm in the area of Weimar, where it hoped to establish the training camp before immigrating to Eretz Israel. As a result of the Potsdam Agreement and the transfer of the region to the Soviets, the training camp moved west to Geringshof, Bavaria, where it functioned for almost three years, from July 1945 to the summer of 1948.
“I found out about the establishment of the kibbutz as I was wandering in Germany after the war searching for Jews with a few other friends who had been liberated. At liberation we met Jews who told us that close by was the Buchenwald camp, and a kibbutz had organized there which we later joined. I didn’t even know then what a kibbutz was, I just saw it as a path to immigrating to Eretz Israel.”
“Only with difficulty did we manage to sleep. We spoke for hours about every topic in the world, and for me, as a girl of thirteen and a half, who lost seven brothers and sisters and was left alone in the world, those idealists appeared to me as the ultimate example of perfection.”
(Itka Cheresh, from "Kibbutz Buchenwald" by Judith Baumel)
The first group of approximately 100 pioneers left for Eretz Israel from the training camp in Geringshof already in August 1945 and arrived in Eretz Israel in September 1945. Kibbutz Buchenwald in Eretz Israel continuously received new members who arrived from the training camp in Germany; the training camp in Europe kept in contact with the group in Eretz Israel and drew strength and support from them. The members of the kibbutz founded the kibbutz Netzer Sereni in June 1948.
Yad Vashem Photo Archives 6735/18