UKRAINIAN REFUGEE CHILDREN IN WESTERN GERMANY AFTER WORLD WAR II: WAYS OF AFFECTION AND SOCIAL CATEGORIES
Keywords:children, displaced persons, refugee, escapes, DP camps, the Ukrainians, West Germany
The article is devoted to the phenomenon of Ukrainian refugee children. They lived in displaced persons camps (DP camps) created and functioned for refugees in West Germany during the second half of 1940s – early 1950s. The article is based on archival documents, memoirs, camp periodicals. The author tried to identify the main reasons and ways of getting children to DP camps, such as age, social criteria and health status. Moreover, the author characterized different groups of “little aged displaced persons”.
World War II caused significant migration of population from Ukraine and put the fate of millions of refugees and displaced persons on the international agenda. The majority of the Ukrainians had been repatriated to the Soviet Union (USSR), but about 250,000 of Ukrainians managed to avoid repatriation, escaped and became refugees who lived in special DP camps. Children made up about a quarter of all Ukrainian refugees, who had experienced difficult escape cases. The memoirs of Lesia Bohuslavets (Oleksandra Tkach), Alla Lehka-Herets, Larysa Zalevska Onyshkevych, Larysa Palidvor-Zelyk, Natalia Palidvor-Sonevytska and others, used in the article, allow us to understanding the personal experiences and feelings of Ukrainian refugee children in the DP period.
Refugee children came from various social groups of the Ukrainian community: politicians, public and religious figures, intellectuals, workers and peasants. The least protected social categories were semi-orphans, orphans, children with disabilities, illegitimate or seriously ill children. They needed special attention and aid from international and Ukrainian relief organizations, as well as from Ukrainian DP community. These were the families with little children, widows with orphans, single mothers with illegitimate children, children with disabilities, children suffering tuberculosis. All of them (and also sick, elderly people) belonged to the so-called “hard core” or “zalyshentsi” (people who couldn’t come back to their homes). They could move from DP camps in Germany to their new residence countries only if they received necessary confirming documents from their relatives, supporting their living conditions provided. Therefore, some Ukrainian families with little or ill children, children with disabilities, widows with orphans, as well as the elderly, were forced to stay in war-torn Germany.