Return to Poland




Most of the displaced persons returning home did so voluntarily. Some three million of them were from the Western European countries of France, Belgium, Holland, and to a much less extent, Denmark and Norway. The people from these western countries started on their way home as soon as they were liberated by the advancing Allied armies. For those who had families with them, it generally meant hanging around a DP camp till transportation could be arranged. Soon as the fighting
ended, thousands of motor vehicles were made


Poles working in the forest
Polish DP's working in the forest. The timber is to be exported
to Britain. The Poles usually worked well only when
someone was with them.

available -many of them were moved all the way home.



This part of the repatriation program was entirely in the hands of the military forces. UNRRA confined its activity principally to setting up assembly centers and helping to look after the people till transportation could be arranged for them. By October practically all of the Western European D.P.s had returned home or were at least out of Germany.

The Western Europeans that continued to remain in Germany, though, were mostly the ones who remained on the farms. Large numbers of foreign workers had been assigned to farm-work. On some of the smaller farms they lived right with the German farmer and some of them became regarded as members of the family. The tie was strengthened as word was received that the husband or son or father had been killed in battle. With Germany's male population decreasing rapidly, it was only natural that the women should be looking around for husbands.

Many a DP or prisoner of war married a young widow or some farmer's daughter whose sweetheart had been killed in battle. More than fifteen thousand French farm workers alone are reported to have married German women and elected to stay in Germany.

By the summer of 1946, the Poles were still not going home fast enough. A plan was devised that bribed them to return to their home. "Everyone volunteering to return home would receive not only a complete set of clothing of kinds, but would also receive a sixty-day food ration as well." This produced some results for a while but not nearly to the extent that repatriation officials expected.

Polish DP's going home
To induce Polish DP's to go home, they were given 60days'
rations and a completely set of new clothing


Source: The Inside Story of UNRRA, An Experience in Internationalism. A First Hand Report On The Displaced People of Europe - Marvin Klemme



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