SOCIAL ADAPTATION OF UKRAINIAN POWS IN GERMANY AFTER THE FIRST WORLD WAR
Keywords:repatriation, prisoners of war, interned persons, camps, emigration, Germany
The article analyses the peculiarities of social adaptation of Ukrainian prisoners of war in Germany, particularly its legal, political and social aspects. The problem of repatriation of POWs was discussed at the international conferences and was regulated by various armistices and treaties (the Armistice of Compiègne, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Treaty of Versailles). After German surrender in the war and the demise of its empire, POWs of all nationalities acquired the status of interned persons, which notably improved their condition. At the same time, former POWs faced difficult social and economic life conditions in Germany, particularly food shortages. Besides, late 1918 and early 1919 saw repatriation commissions of various states starting their activity in Germany. They included the Ukrainian repatriation commission, which helped return several tens of thousands of people to Ukraine. Therefore, within the dichotomy faced by Ukrainian soldiers in Germany (repatriation against a decision to stay in Germany as political emigrants with subsequent adaptation to life conditions in this country), most long-term captives decided to return. In the wake of dramatic geopolitical changes in Europe and the world, repatriation to the homeland was regarded by most as the best option. On the other hand, some Ukrainians decided to stay in Germany for a longer period. They became witnesses to considerable changes in German political, economic and civil life. The Germans were suspicious of former POWs staying in the country, regarding them as competitors on the job market and as “aliens” in general. However, despite all obstacles some “brave men” managed to successfully adapt in Germany and even create families, becoming a part of their new country’s society.