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PhD. Topics

Institute of History

Displaced persons and refugees from Soviet Union in Germany and Austria after the Second World War – between adaptation and resettlement
PhD. program
World History
Name of the supervisor
Mgr. Dušan Segeš, M.A., PhD.
Receiving school
Faculty of Arts, Comenius University Bratislava
The Second World war and its aftermath have caused massive forced migrations from Eastern Europe to Germany and (partly) Austria. These countries became a temporary refuge for millions of peoples: enslaved, forced or guest laborers, concentration camp survivors, prisoners of war, political prisoners, and Nazi collaborators in flight from the Red Army. Their number has been reduced during the short period (1945 – 1947) in consequence of (forcible) repatriation and relocation. Nevertheless, a considerable part of displaced persons, stateless persons and refugees coming from Eastern, East-Central and South-Eastern Europe still remained in occupation zones of Western Allies in Germany and Austria. Ukrainians, Russians. Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians constituted an substantial part of the DPs and stateless persons. In the late 1940s and in the 1950s they mostly lived in the overcrowded refugee camps. Their everyday life in the camps – for most of them a transient period before the desired resettlement to third (overseas) countries – was characterized by the adaptation to the new environment. They created their own national schools, cultural societies, and also “national” Labour Service Companies (a part of US-Army in Germany). For thousands of these people, the transitional period became a permanent condition. They became not only symbolic objects in the psychological warfare (“battle for hearts and minds”) between the Western World and the Soviet Union, but also the target group of exile organizations and, last but not least, the state driven “come home” campaigns of the Communist states in the 1950s.
The tasks of the doctoral student will be the historical analysis covering topics such as:
- development of refugee policies in the frames of international agreements, e. g. the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees adopted by the United Nations in July 28, 1951,
- activities of international refugee organizations and humanitarian organizations (e. g. International Refugee Organization (IRO) and UNHCR) providing legal protection, assistance and care for the East European inmates of the refugee camps in Germany and Austria and organizing their resettlement,
- political programme developed and scope of actions taken by Ukrainian, Russia, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian émigré organizations and committees operating in Germany and Austria, including the broadcasting of Radio Liberation/Liberty – Радио Свобода,
- refugees as objects the “Come Home” or redefection campaigns in the 1950s (e. g. Комитет за возвращение на Родину),
- refugees from Eastern Europe and the Baltic states living in Germany and Austria as a factor in bilateral diplomatic relations between FRG and Austria (especially in the 1950s).
The candidate is expected to meet the foreign language requirements: intermediate-level language proficiency in Ukrainian/Russian and English, advanced reading proficiency in German.