after the war

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Refugees evacuating the Belgian town of Bastogne c.1944.

Photo courtesy U.S. National Archives

Rosalia Bortschtsch
Photo: Rosalia Borschtsh.
Courtesy Alf Manciagli

Men with rifles were walking around all the time so nobody jumped down. We asked where we were going.
A soldier said: "I don't know where you are going."
"How long will we be there?"
"Only God can tell you."
We all cried.
When WWII ended in Europe in May 1945, the chaos was certainly far from over for millions of people from the United Kingdom through the main theatres of war in France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Yugoslavia and Greece. No nation escaped the ravages of war, and for many people who found themselves unable to return to their homes, the long journey to a settled life had only just begun. Many civilians had been caught up in the war, some taken from their homes in Ukraine and Poland and sent to Germany and Austria as forced labour in factories and on farms.


Ship in a bottle lovingly made by Valentino Sbrizzi when he was held as an enemy alien in an Australian internment...
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Apart from the devastation wreaked by bombing and invasion, European nations were in turmoil with floundering economies, food shortages and millions of refugees seeking shelter. Some were able eventually to return to their homes but many had no home to go to; others were fearful of returning to countries which had been taken over by the communists. These were known as displaced people and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) had to find them temporary accommodation and find countries to accept those who could not return home.


This apron was taken to Austria by Anna Babij when she was deported from Ukraine during World War II...
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After the displaced people were settled in their new homelands, other European and British people, seeking a stable, more prosperous life, swelled the ranks of migrants. Many chose Australia, which was encouraging newcomers to help build its economy. It offered jobs, the chance to own a home, and start a new life far from the chaos of Europe.