August 7, 1968
The announcement of the formation of the American Jewish Emergency Effort for Biafran Relief
The American Jewish Emergency Effort for Biafran Relief began with 21 national Jewish organizations committed to humanitarian relief in Biafra. The Emergency Effort confined its activities to fundraising and decided to allocate its funds to existing relief organizations rather than endeavoring to provide aid and relief privately by itself. Within two weeks of the formation of the Emergency Effort, nearly $50,000 had been donated.
Irish priests campaigning in the US for increased aid and relief to Biafra met with leaders from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in July 1968, and the group spoke about the similarities between the images coming from Biafra and those that emerged after the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. According to the AJC’s director of Interreligious Affairs, the photographs were “to Jewish eyes, 1968 version of photographs of Jewish children taken in the 1940s in such other notorious sites [as] Bergen-Belsen…and Auschwitz.”
Ad: “Have you ever seen millions of children starving to death?” New York Times, Thursday, August 4, 1968. Archived at American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
Heerten, Lasse. “’A’ as in Auschwitz, ‘B’ as in Biafra: The Nigerian Civil War, Visual Narratives of Genocide, and the Fragmented Universalization of the Holocaust.” In Heide Fehrenback, ed. Humanitarian Photography: A History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.