Rebuilding Post-War Britain: Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian refugees in Britain, 1946-51
'Germany wasn't really a place for settling in, because after the war it was pretty devastated, and there wasn't really a chance to start again, so I thought Id come to England. It was a case of people between 18 and 50 and you had to be fit because it was mainly physical work. For men, it was mines and agricultural work and brick factories and women, mainly textiles.'
'We were thinking it was temporary. We were thinking the war would restart with the west and the east, and that the west would win, and we would be going home. But, it wasn't like that.'
After the Second World War, thousands of Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian refugees, uprooted by war and conflict in their homelands, were recruited from Displaced Persons Camps in Germany to fill labor shortages in Britain. This unknown episode in Britain's immigration history is brought to life in this book, through interview extracts and documentary sources. Women were the first recruits to the so-called European Volunteer Worker Schemes, in which 25,000 Baltic men and women came to Britain between 1946 and 1951, to work in hospitals, textiles, agriculture, coal mining and other undermanned areas of industry. Initially regarding their stay in Britain as temporary, a majority of these Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian men and women remained in Britain their whole lives. Recently joined by more migrants from the Baltic States, this book tells the story of Britain's Baltic communities, from the earliest accounts of their arrival in Britain to the present day.
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