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Displaced Persons Camps in Kufstein, Austria

Replies: 14

Re: Displaced Persons Camps in Kufstein, Austria

Posted: 14 Jun 2012 11:13AM GMT
Classification: Query
Charlene, I think a bit of general background history might help. Rather potted but roughly! Until 1919 Eastern Europe was divided between three great Empires - Russian, German and Austro-Hungarian, the latter covering most of Ukraine, large parts of Poland, Hungary, most of the Balkans, lumps of Italy etc., endless different languaqes (German was the official language) and different ethnic groups. In 1919 Poland regained its freedom and independence and spread well to the east. This meant that a lot of Ukrainians (Austro-Hungarians)became citizens of Poland. Your grandmother would have been born in that inter-war Poland making her Polish by citizenship even if still ethnically Ukrainian - she may not even have spoken Polish at home. In 1939 the Russo-German pact meant that Hitler grabbed the western half of Poland and Stalin grabbed the eastern half. After the end of WW2 all the boundaries were pushed to the west permanently, mostly because Stalin's empire building plans meant he had no intention of giving up land - he just wanted more. Germany lost all her territory east of the Oder-Neisse Rivers, Poland's western border moved up to the rivers and stopped more or less at the line Hitler and Stalin had drawn in the east, i.e. the Soviet Union kept all of what had been the eastern part of pre-war Poland. However when the Nazis first invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 they were greeted as liberators by many Ukrainians, a large number of whom were German speaking. When the Nazis then behaved badly a lot of them changed their minds and fought to get rid of them. Many were deported for slave labour but there were quite a few who continued to support the Germans fighting the Red Army. When it was obvious that Germany was losing the war these people realised that they were not going to be popular with the Russians and fled in front of the Red Army to the west. There was a tragic incident in Austria when the British Control Commission forced a large number of Ukrainians who had fought with the Nazis to return to the Soviet Union despite knowing they would probably all end up in gulags or being shot. As late as the 1980s there was a famous court case in England because someone had written a book about it and someone else insisted it was/was not true - cannot remember all the details. However this does allow you to see how mixed up everyone was - almost anything could have happened to your grandmother but I think it is more likely she was Ukrainian ethnicity than a real Pole (they are very chauvinistic!) so she may have had more in common with someone of Serb extraction than might be expected - or maybe they were just two young people with nowhere to go and threw in their lot together. Do a bit of googling for maps, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Poland and Germany in the borders of c1937 and Poland/Germany today. It will help you get the picture. Oh yes - Wikipedia can be useful as a pointer but is not highly regarded by serious researchers - no peer-group reviews, anyone can add anything and anyone does! Hope this waffle has helped a bit to explain there could be several explanations. I still think trying to get the actual UNRRA records might be a good start. Good luck anyway - you have plenty tokeep you busy!
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
CharleneMarko... 7 Jun 2012 6:04PM GMT 
yugaya 8 Jun 2012 6:26AM GMT 
Mohnbauer 8 Jun 2012 5:57PM GMT 
halpark 13 Jun 2012 6:00PM GMT 
CharleneMarko... 14 Jun 2012 2:53PM GMT 
Mohnbauer 14 Jun 2012 3:42PM GMT 
Mohnbauer 14 Jun 2012 4:04PM GMT 
Mohnbauer 14 Jun 2012 5:09PM GMT 
halpark 14 Jun 2012 5:13PM GMT 
CharleneMarko... 14 Jun 2012 5:22PM GMT 
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