The illusion of peace: the fate of the Baltic Displaced Persons, 1945-1952
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Following the end of World War II, the Allied forces faced an immediate large- scale refugee crisis in Europe. Efforts focused on returning the millions of refugees to their homes as quickly as possible. Though the majority did return home, nearly a million refugees from Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe refused to do so. Reclassified as Displaced Persons (DPs) and placed in holding camps by the Occupational Authorities, these refugees demanded that Allied leaders give them the chance to immigrate and resettle elsewhere. Immigration historians of this period have focused mainly on the experiences of the Jewish refugees during the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel. Other studies depict the chaos in Germany immediately following the war, describing the DPs as an unstable factor in an already unstable situation. While important, these works tend to overlook the fate of non-Jewish refugees who would not return to their homes. Additionally, these works overlook the many immigration and resettlement schemes put in place to solve the DP situation and stabilize Europe, focusing instead on economic forces and growing Cold War tensions. This thesis looks at the experiences of the Baltic DPs, those from Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Beginning with a brief history of the three countries and their people’s experiences during the war, this study also looks at their lives in the DP camps and explores their reasons for not returning home. It also recounts the Allies’ decision to promote resettlement rather than repatriation as the solution to the refugee problem by focusing on the immigration programs of the four main recipient countries, Britain, the United States, Canada, and Australia. This thesis argues that the majority of the Baltic DPs came from educated, middle class backgrounds and as such, they were widely sought after by the recipient countries as the most suitable for immigration. A final argument is that disagreements over their fate between the United States, England, and the Soviet Union, fueled the Cold War.
Eastes, Victoria Marite Helga (2007). The illusion of peace: the fate of the Baltic Displaced Persons, 1945-1952. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from