OLLENDORFF, HENRY B. (14 March 1907-10 February 1979) was a German-born and trained lawyer who took up social work in the United States after escaping from Nazi Germany. In Cleveland, he founded and headed the Council of International Programs (CIP), a cross-cultural exchange program that has brought professionals from across the globe to the United States.

Born in Esslingen, Germany, to George and Alice Ollendorff, Heinz Ollendorff grew up in Darmstadt. He received a doctorate in law from the University of Heidelberg in 1929. Imprisoned by the Nazis in 1937, Ollendorff spent 13 months in solitary confinement before coming to the United States with his wife, Martha Agnes Burge, in 1938. He had vowed at the time never to return to Germany owing to his harrowing experiences at the hands of the Nazis. After graduating from the New York School of Social Work at Columbia University in 1940, he moved to Cleveland to work at the FRIENDLY INN SOCIAL SETTLEMENT, becoming head worker in 1943. In 1948, Ollendorff was appointed executive director of the Neighborhood Settlement Association, a position he held until 1963. After much soul searching, Ollendorff returned his native Germany in 1954 to teach a five-month seminar for German youth leaders at the request of the U.S. State Department. While there, he conceived the idea for an exchange program to bring German social leaders to the United States for study and first-hand experience with American life and social work. Ollendorff founded the Council of International Programs for Youth Leaders and Social Workers Inc. in 1956 and brought 25 German youth leaders to Cleveland. Over the next two decades of his life, the program brought social workers from more than 70 countries to the United States.

Ollendorff's work for the CIP took him on annual trips abroad to interview applicants and, upon his return to Cleveland, he frequently spoke before civic groups to relate his experiences and impressions about world conditions and about foreign attitudes toward the United States. His work earned his many honors, such as the 1959 International Services Award from the ROTARY CLUB OF CLEVELAND and the 1971 Golden Door Award from NATIONALITIES SERVICES CENTER. He also received a bronze plaque from the State Department in 1976 and was honored with the West Germany's Order of Merit and France's Order of Merite Social. In 1978, the trustees of the Council of International Programs established the Henry B. Ollendorff Foundation to continue his efforts toward world peace and friendship. Ollendorff was a member of the U.S. Committee of the International Conference on Social Welfare and the Commission on International Social Work of the Council on Social Work Education.

Ollendorff married Martha Agnes Burge in 1934 and they had two children together, Monica and Franklin.

Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

Finding aid for the Henry B. Ollendorff Papers, Series I, WRHS. 

Finding aid for the Henry B. Ollendorff Papers, Series II, WRHS.

Finding aid for the Henry B. Ollendorff Photographs, WRHS.


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