Historical Social Research

Regina Grüter & Anne van Mourik: Dutch Repatriation from the Former Third Reich and the Soviet Union: Political and Organizational Encounters and the Role of the Netherlands Red Cross. [Abstract]

The repatriation of approximately 300,000 displaced Dutch persons from across Europe might seem rather straightforward compared to the problems regarding the mass displacement of millions of Europeans as a result of the Second World War. However, poor planning due to controversies in the Dutch government in exile caused “structural errors” in the repatriation scheme itself. In addition, in the Netherlands, liberation and repatriation coincided while the population in the western part of the country needed immediate relief. Due to these circumstances, the repatriation of Dutch nationals was chaotic. The result was that the reputation of the Dutch government and the Netherlands Red Cross (NRC) was questioned by those repatriated and their communities. Nevertheless, the majority of the Dutch displaced persons (DPs) were brought home by the end of September 1945, while an estimated 6,000 Dutch nationals were still in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The repatriation of Dutch nationals held in the Soviet Union was particularly problematic as a result of the absence of a repatriation agreement with the Soviet Union and poor diplomatic relations, intensified by the advance of the Cold War. Eventually, by the mid-1950s, repatriation was considered complete.

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