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Negotiating Migration

After the end of World War II, millions of people in Germany and Europe were displaced throughout Europe - including victims of the Holocaust, of forced labor and displacement as well as people on the run from war and authoritarian rule. The Allies had developed a strategy to care for these millions of victims of violence-induced mobility, but they had not foreseen the extent of the humanitarian catastrophe. As part of their planning, the Allies had already defined a neologism in 1944 in a central memorandum of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF), which categorized the heterogeneous group of different groups of victims as "Displaced Persons".

During the first post-war years, most of those “DPs” returned to their former places of living either autonomously or within the scope of the repatriation program of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). The political conditions in some countries of origin, however, entailed that repatriation was increasingly refused by the DPs. As a result, the Western Allies founded the International Refugee Organization (IRO) in 1946, whose concept focused on the resettlement of the non-repatriated "displaced persons". By 1951, the IRO had organized the resettlement of approximately one million people in Europe, America, Australia, in member states of the British Commonwealth, in North Africa, Asia or Israel. Those “Displaced Persons” who were not eligible for resettlement eventually had to be integrated into German society.

These definitions and policies developed in the post-war period have shaped the way we deal with the consequences of violence-induced mobility today. Understanding the history of forced migration, displacement and especially the ways, solutions were negotiated between “DPs”, international organizations and societies in the aftermath of violence-induced mobility provides a most relevant contribution to the understanding of history and the present situation.

The working group “Negotiating Migration” engages in corresponding projects at the School of Cultural Studies and Social Sciences – Department of Modern History and Historical Migration Research at the Osnabrück University and explores the negotiation of status categories, mobility options and affiliation as well as processes and long-term effects in the aftermath of violence-induced mobility within the context of the Nazi regime and the Second World War and combines historical analyses with approaches of reflexive migration studies and current perspectives on forced migration.