Displaced Persons of World War II

By early spring 1945, the war in Europe—though not over—was winding down.  The rapid advance of Allied Forces had uncovered displaced persons in numbers far beyond those anticipated by military planners.  As concentration camps and former Nazi-occupied areas were liberated, the Allies found themselves face to face with a situation of nearly unimaginable proportions—6,200,000 displaced persons.  This number did not include millions of German civilians and prisoners of war.  The Allies’ goals, with regard to the DPs, were to attend to their immediate needs for food, shelter, and medical attention and, then, to repatriate them as quickly as possible.  Meanwhile, the overall economic situation was devastating due to near total wartime destruction.  The greatest worry of military leaders was a critical shortage of food and the upcoming winter of 1945 – 46.  Most DPs (non-Jews) were processed and rapidly returned to their families and homelands.  For Jewish DPs, however, the circumstances, and their stories, would prove far different.

  1. Documents