Vajs, Albert

views updated


VAJS, ALBERT (1905–1964), leader of Yugoslav Jewry. Born in Zemun (Semlin), Vajs grew up in a mixed Serbo-Croat, German, and Hungarian cultural milieu, but from his youth he was a Zionist and was greatly influenced by Alexander *Licht and the Zemun rabbi H. Urbach. Until 1941 he was a barrister in Belgrade. During World War ii he was a Yugoslav officer and was captured by the Germans. After the war he was a member of the State War Crimes Commission in Yugoslavia and the deputy head of the Yugoslav delegation to the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. From 1947 he was a professor in the faculties of law and philosophy at Belgrade and wrote numerous essays on legal matters and a book on the history of civilization.

In postwar Yugoslavia, Vajs devoted his energies to Jewish interests, mainly to the rehabilitation of the Jewish communities, becoming the president of their federation. He represented Yugoslav Jewry at world Jewish conventions, particularly of the *World Jewish Congress and its Executive. He was helpful in organizing the great aliyah to Israel of Yugoslav Jewry in 1948–49, which encompassed about 8,000 Jews.


Institut za pravnu istoriju, Zbornik radova iz pravne istorije posvećen Albertu Vajsu (1966); Bilten Udruzˆenja Jevreja iz Jugoslavije u Izraelu (May 1964).

[David Alcalay]