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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Life was nothing then Life meant for nothing War
We were in heaven Life in the Displaced Persons Camps
A valuable addition to our manpower The Recruitment
We got disorientated for quite a long time The 1950s
We were living in the past The impact of homeland
This is our home now The migration of Latvians
Epilogue Rebuilding PostWar Britain The Contribution
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accommodation activities agricultural areas arrived in Britain Balt Cygnet Baltic communities Baltic DPs Baltic refugees became began Bradford Britain British Government British zone Catthorpe centre Church clubs communities in Britain Daugavas Vanagi described diaspora Displaced Persons DP camps Einsatzgruppen employment England English Estonian community Estonian language Estonians in Britain Europe European Volunteer Workers EVW schemes EVWs exile farm felt German groups homeland hostels houses immigrants independence industry initially language large numbers Latvia and Estonia Latvian community Latvian in Britain Latvian Legion Latvian woman Leeds Lithuanian community Lithuanian woman Lithuanian Youth Lithuanians and Estonians living London Lutheran LYNES migrants military Ministry of Labour Nottingham occupation organisations particularly period Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth political population post-war recruitment region repatriation reported resettlement Riga Russian Russian Empire Scotland significant social Soviet Union textile three Baltic UNRRA Westward Westward Ho Wigsley women young Latvians