Encyclopedia

Displaced Person

(DP), one of approximately 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 persons who had been uprooted by the war and who by the end of 1945 had refused to or could not return to their prewar homes.

When the war ended, most Jewish DP's were housed in camps behind barbed wire in poor conditions. Until the State of Israel was established in 1948, legal immigration to Palestine was blocked by official British policy. Immigration to the United States in meaningful numbers was also severely restricted until the passage of the Displaced Persons' Act in 1948. Between 1945 and 1952 approximately 400,000 DP's immigrated to the United States, of whom approximately 20 percent, or 80,000, were Jewish. Between 1948 and 1951, almost 700,000 Jews emigrated to Israel, including more than 2/3 of the Jewish displaced persons in Europe.

Displaced Persons camps were set up at the end of WWII to house the millions of uprooted persons who were unwilling or unable to return to their homes. By the end of 1946, the number of Jewish DP's was 250,000, of whom 185,000 were in Germany, 45,000 in Austria and 20,000 in Italy.

The Jewish survivors languished in camps primarily in the Allied zones of occupation in Germany. At first the DPs lived behind barbed wire fences under guard in camps that included former concentration camps. For example, in the British zone the survivors were held at the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Some DP's were housed in better conditions in residential facilities. Eventually, the Jews gained recognition as a special group with their own needs and put into separate facilities.


Sources: USHMM, Historical Atlas of the Holocaust; Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.



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