The following post contains significant information quoted and paraphrased from resources at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Library and Archives and focuses on the history of Germans in Lithuania. It is shared here for its scholarly and historical perspective and may help provide a political and social history to the family history we all seek.
Link to entire thesis
US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection Description
The following is excerpted from Eastes abstract:
- After WWII the Allies faced a refugee crisis in Europe. Their first goal was to return refugees to their pre war homes.
- Nearly 1 million from Eastern Europe refused to return to their now Soviet controlled homes.
- They were re-classified as Displaced Persons (DPs), placed in Allied-built holding camps, and wanted an opportunity to resettle elsewhere.
- The Baltic DPs made up a large portion of these DPs.
- Topics include life in the DP camps and reasons why they did not want to return home.
- The Allies had to change their goal from repatriation to resettlement in Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States.
- Because of their high level of education, Baltic DPs were perceived as the most suitable for immigration.
- The Cold War may very well have begun with the decision to resettle rather than repatriate.
Eastes also credits her grandmother “for all she endured in leaving her home behind to make a better life for her children. With her sacrifice, none of this would have been possible.”
The most pertinent chapters for the readers of this blog are included in the next four posts:
- Introduction: Repatriation versus Resettlement
- A Brief Look at the Latvia, Lithuanian, and Estonia
- The DP Experience 1946-1949
- America and the Baltics, 1945-1952
- Australia, Canada, and the Baltic DPs, 1947-1952
Chapters on the policies of other Allied governments and the Conclusion are not included here but can be accessed at http://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/bitstream/handle/1969.1/ETD-TAMU-3271/EASTES-THESIS.pdf;sequence=1
Introduction: Repatriation versus Resettlement
- The Yalta agreement in February 1945 signed by Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin did not reinstate independence for the three Baltic states and other eastern European nations.
- Instead, Yalta gave the Baltic nations to the Soviet Union in exchange for Stalin’s assistance in taking Berlin and future aid to defeat Japan.
- After the war 8 million wartime refugees flooded Europe.
- The Soviet Union demanded the return of all people who were part of the Soviet Union, including the people of the Baltics.
- The UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) had been formed to assist voluntary and forced repatriation to be administered by the United Nation and the Allies.
- Some refugees returned but many refused and became known as DPs, Displaced Persons.
- In the post war years the various nations set up their criteria for the resettlement of thousands of Europeans.
- Baltic DPs were some of the most sought after refugees because of their educational level, ethnicity, negative attitude towards communism, youth, and the belief that they would assimilate most easily into productive citizenship.
- Thousands of DP camps in Germany, Austria, and Italy, operated from 1945 to 1952.
- The post war period of the DPs has been most overlooked but many believe that it was the beginning of the Cold War.