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The Allies agreed at Yalta in February 1945 on the speedy repatriation of all persons displaced in the course of the Second World War, despite worrying signs that some Soviet prisoners of war (POWs) and forced laborers would resist return to their homeland. From the Soviet standpoint, repatriation of all Soviet citizens, whether they wanted it or not, was nonnegotiable. Over 4 million POWs and other displaced persons (DPs) were duly dispatched to the Soviet Union by early 1946, with the active cooperation of the United States and Britain but in a climate of mounting uneasiness on their part. After that, vehement resistance in the DP camps and increasing revulsion to forced repatriation on the part of the Western Allies slowed Soviet repatriation to a trickle. There were still about a million “hard core” DPs from the Soviet Union and other East European countries left in Europe, mainly in Germany, Austria, and Italy, under the care of UNRRA (the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) and the military governments of the American, British, and French zones of occupation. According to Soviet estimates, almost half of these were Soviet citizens.


Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences

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