International Refugee Aid in Postwar Germany as Evaluated by Emigrants and Displaced Persons from Russia and the Soviet Union

Keywords: United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), International Refugee Organization (IRO), refugees, displaced persons, emigration from the USSR


This article is devoted to international assistance to refugees who stayed in German camps in the second half of the 1940s. The authors of the article focus on ego-documents coming from Soviet “displaced persons” and emigrants from Russia. The novelty of this study lies in the fact that the authors carry out a comparative analysis of the information found in these historical sources and the official documents of the UN structures involved in helping refugees, which has not been done previously. The authors refer to materials from the archives of the Hoover Institution for War, Revolution, and Peace (Stanford, USA), the Bakhmetev Archive of Russian and East European Culture of Columbia University (New York, USA), the Manuscript Department of the Library of Congress (Washington), the Department of Manuscripts of the Russian State Library (Moscow, Russia), and the UN archive. Also, they rely on the conceptual developments of specialists in the field of ego-document analysis as a historical source. As a result, it is proved that many statements in the memoirs of Soviet “displaced persons” and emigrants are emotional in nature and not supported by information found in other sources. The analysis demonstrates that international organisations created to help refugees after the Second World War faced objective difficulties. The activities of these structures were peculiar in that they developed on the territory of Germany, which was divided into occupation zones. The authors identify the main parameters of the activities of international organisations to help refugees and show the sources and scale of funding provided for the camp system in Germany in the second half of the 1940s. Considerable attention is paid to the evolution of the system of international assistance to refugees associated with the transition from the UNRRA to the IRO. The authors prove that in the first postwar years, there was a search for ways to provide assistance to refugees and “displaced persons” and the development of international mechanisms in this area, which would be improved in the subsequent period.

Author Biographies

Alexey Antoshin

Dr. Hab. (History), Professor, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin.

19, Mira Str., 620002, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0002-6093-2219

Julia Zapariy

PhD (History), Associate Professor, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin.

19, Mira Str., 620002, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0002-1101-821X


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How to Cite
Antoshin, A., & Zapariy, J. (2022). International Refugee Aid in Postwar Germany as Evaluated by Emigrants and Displaced Persons from Russia and the Soviet Union. Quaestio Rossica, 10(2), 469–484.
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