Russian prisoners of war of the Nazi's in Belgium from displaced persons to refugees (from Soviet Communism)
Title: Russian prisoners of war of the Nazi's in Belgium from displaced persons to refugees (from Soviet Communism)
Author: LUYCKX, Lieselotte
Publisher: Foundation Jan Dhondt
Citation: Belgisch Tijdschrift Voor Nieuwste Geschiedenis-Revue Belge d'histoire Contemporaine, 2010, Vol. 40, No. 3, pp. 489-511
The fate of the Russian forced labourers (both prisoners of war and Ostarbeiter) in Belgium during and immediately after the second World War may only seem a 'footnote' in the Belgian historiography of the war Their story does not belong to the Belgian collective memory However, within the framework of the development of a refugee status, which was still in its initial stage at the time both internationally and in Belgium, they nonetheless are an exceptionally interesting group In the beginning, Belgium subscribed to the allied policy of giving top priority to repatriate all displaced persons as quickly as possible and this both for practical and diplomatic reasons Given the forced nature of their displacement, no serious problems were expected Still, all three allies (USA, Soviet Union and Great Britain) had agreed to accept the use of force Despite this strict policy, some Soviet forced labourers managed to stay in the West (and in Belgium among other countries) Quite a lot has already been written on this topic as these displaced persons were one of the first issues where the former allies confronted each other in the build-up to the Cold War Generally, the pivotal issue in these studies is to understand how the western allies redefined displaced persons as refugees However, Belgium clearly struggled to reconcile this (western) policy to its own national interests This prevented Belgium from the very start to subscribe fully to the example of its western allies especially the presence of Belgian displaced persons in the Soviet Union was crucial in this respect Moreover, these Soviet displaced persons caused disagreement among Belgian policy makers as well In this article we outline the Belgian policy, but we go beyond this by analyzing individual files on these Soviet displaced persons This enabled us to acquire insight both in the actual implementation of the policy, as in the potential strategies of these refugees to circumvent it
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