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Nicholas Rezak Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Rezak, Nicholas.
Title: Nicholas Rezak Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1928-1977
Quantity: 1.5 linear ft.
Abstract: Correspondence, photographs, maps, memorabilia and other material, most related to Rezak's position with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in post-war Yugoslavia.
Language: Majority in English; some items in Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, Russian, French and Italian.
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Nicholas Rezak's family emigrated from Palestine in 1913. Rezak graduated from Syracuse University in 1933 with a degree in Sociology, following which he received a graduate degree from the Columbia School of Social Work in New York City (1936). He worked for the American Red Cross as a disaster relief worker and spent three years with the Syracuse Department of Public Welfare as a case worker and supervisor (1933-1936). He served as director of the New York City Works Progress Administration for three years (1936-1939) and regional secretary for the New York State Charities Aid Association (1940-1942), and as Regional Supervisor for the Office of Civilian Defense (1942-1943). Following World War II he was named Director of Field Operations and Distribution for the Jugoslav Missions division of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). A long-time resident of Syracuse, New York, he served on a number of boards and was active in charity and fund-raising work. He and his wife Polly had two sons, William and David.

The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was an international relief agency founded in 1943, in the midst of World War II. According to its founding articles, its purpose was to ensure that "immediately upon the liberation of any area by the armed forces of the United Nations or as a consequence of retreat of the enemy the population thereof shall receive aid and relief from their sufferings, food, clothing and shelter, aid in the prevention of pestilence and in the recovery of the health of the people, and that preparation and arrangements shall be made for the return of prisoners and exiles to their homes and for assistance in the resumption of urgently needed agricultural and industrial production and the restoration of essential services." [Agreement for United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, November 9, 1943]. UNRRA operated divisions in several countires, including occupied Germany, Taiwan, China, Poland, Italy, and Yugoslavia. It ceased operations in 1947.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Nicholas Rezak Papers consist of biographical material, correspondence, maps, memorabilia, photographs, published material and writings. The bulk of the collection relates to Rezak's work for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and provides a unique and interesting portrait of post-war Yugoslavia.

Biographical material contains awards and certifications, clippings about Rezak dating from the years following his work with UNRRA, transcripts, work histories, resumes and other items.

Correspondence consists of personal correspondence between Rezak and his family (wife Polly and son Bill) and friends, as well as correspondence and documentation relating to Rezak's position as Director of UNRRA's Jugoslav Mission.

Maps contains British and American military-issue maps as well as more generic published maps. Of particular interest are those showing so-called "starvation zones" in war-time and post-war Yugoslavia and an aerial topographical map of Graz and Dubrovnik. There is also a map printed on cloth, issued for the U.S. military.

Memorabilia comprises a wide range of items accumulated during Rezak's travels and especially while in Yugoslavia. These include currency from various countries, legal documents such as military passes, postcards, programs from theatrical performances, travel and tourism items (brochures, booklets, guides, etc.), and assorted ephemera (mess passes, receipts, etc.)

Several hundred Photographs make up the largest portion of the collection. Subjects include UNRRA activities such as an anti-typhus program and a nutrition survey; Marshal Josip Tito, Fiorello La Guardia (Director-General of UNRRA), Herbert H. Lehman (former Director-General), and Mihail Sergeichic (Chief of the Yugoslav Mission) appear in numerous pictures. There are also photographs taken on holiday, candid shots of friends and a few of Rezak himself. Many, but not all, are captioned, and several different handwriting styles are represented. Some of the personal photographs appear to have been printed as postcards.

Published material contains clippings, two books on Yugoslavia, and a report on the damage suffered by Yugoslavia during the war.

A few Writings by Rezak complete the collection. These include reports done for two of his employers as well as typescripts of essays or articles about Yugoslavia.

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Arrangement of the Collection

In most cases material is arranged alphabetically by topic or title.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Subject Headings


La Guardia, Fiorello H. (Fiorello Henry), 1882-1947.
Lehman, Herbert H. (Herbert Henry), 1878-1963.
Rezak, Nicholas.
Sergeichic, Mihail.
Tito, Josip Broz, 1892-1980.

Corporate Bodies

United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. -- Jugoslav Mission.


Food relief -- Yugoslavia.
Humanitarian assistance -- Yugoslavia.
International relief -- Yugoslavia.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Cartography.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Civilian relief.


Yugoslavia -- History --1918-1945.
Yugoslavia -- History --1945-1980.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Maps (documents)

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Nicholas Rezak Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of William (Bill) Rezak and David Rezak, 2013.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 7 May 2013
Revision history:

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Biographical material
Box 1 Awards and certifications 1936, 1942, undated
Box 1 Clippings about 1955, 1964, 1973, 1977
Box 1 Resumes, c.v.s, work histories 1936, 1947, undated
Box 1 Potts, Peugra [?] 1946 - from an envelope included in the file: "Letters Polly wrote to Peugra [?] Potts 46-47 while Polly and Nick were in Jugoslavia"
Box 1 Rezak, Polly (wife) circa 1945
Box 1 Rezak, William (Bill) (son) 1940, 1944-1947
United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA)
Box 1 Correspondence 1944-1947
Box 1 Report, "Distribution and use of UNRRA supplies in Jugoslavia" 1947
Box 1 Miscellaneous, to Rezak 1939-1948, undated
Box 1 Miscellaneous, from Rezak circa 1946 - two letters, one to "Harry" and the other to "Dear Michael," describing his work for UNRRA
Box 1 AAF Cloth Map, Mediterranean Series No. 4 and No. 6 1943 - Tyrol and the Balkans
Box 1 Inter-Service Topographic Department, B.R. 876 Y Mosaic 24 Jun 1943 - aerial view of Dubrovnik and Graz with topographical descriptions added
Box 1 Jugoslavia Basic Handbook, Map Section 1943 - military-issue,
Box 1 Karta Jugoslavije circa 1945 - map showing grain deficiencies, "starvation zones" (2 items)
Box 1 Yugoslavia, miscellaneous
Box 1 Currency - various European and Slavic countries
Box 1 Invitations 1944-1947 - formal and informal, including government and diplomatic personnel
Box 1 Legal documents 1944-1947 - health certificate, military passes, certifcate of non-combatant status, etc.
Box 1 Postcards - several dozen, from Egypt, Italy, Yugoslavia and other countries
Box 1 Programs 1944, undated - music and theater performances
Travel and tourism
See also Photographs.
Box 1 Croatia, Dalmatia 1947, undated - includes pamphlet, "The trial of Dr. Aloysius Stepinac, Archbishop of Zagreb"
Box 2 Egypt 1943 - booklet, "Cairo: How to See It"
Box 2 Yugoslavia 1928, 1947, undated - includes Beograd-to-London ticket, booklets on Split and Dubrovnik, brochures, etc.
Box 2 Miscellaneous 1945-1947 - includes entry tickets for Serbian Military Court trial of "defendant D. Mihajlovicu," mess cards, hotel registration card, "UNRRA" patch, business cards, etc.
Photographs that could be positively identified as to topic (e.g., "UNRRA") are filed first. Miscellaneous photographs are filed first by date, followed by those with a caption but without a date, and finally those with no identifying information at all.
Box 2 Aboard the liner America 1946 or 1947 - one is signed on the back by everyone appearing in the photo
Box 2 Boka - Kotorska - Lovcen - Cetinje [Bay of Kotor] circa 1945 - scrapbook; may actually be postcards or commercially produced souvenir booklet
Box 2 Anti-typhus team 1945 - Yugoslavia; may have been a UNRRA team, unclear
Box 2 Jugoslav Mission Exhibit 1946 - photographs, papers, captions (Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian) from an exhibit that went to the principal cities of Yugoslavia
Box 2 Nutrition survey, Bosnia 1945 - small scrapbook of photos with typed captions
Box 2 Miscellaneous circa 1945-1947 - subjects include group portraits of team, UNRRA supplies and supply depots, scrap metal yards, car and train repair shops, etc.
Box 2 Dated 1942-1947 (5 folders)
Box 2 Undated, with captions
Box 3 Undated, without captions
Box 3 Negatives
Published material
Box 3 Clippings undated - photo-essay on "America's Communist ally" Yugoslavia, article on Marshal Tito
Box 3 Drawings : Jugoslav Landscapes, Lubomir Ivanovic 1937 - text is in Russian, French, English and German
Box 3 Dubrovnik circa 1945
Box 3 "Human and material sacrifices of Yugoslavia in her war efforts, 1941-1945" circa 1946 - report published by War Reparations Commission, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Box 3 Rochester Department of Public Welfare 1940 - case reviews
Box 3 State Charities Aid Association 1941 - outline for community study
Box 3 Yugoslavia circa 1945-1947 - typescripts of essays, articles, a broadcast

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