World War II: Reugees/Dispaced Persons--Causes

Figure 1.--Such was the fear of the German Luftwaffe and aerial bombardment that at the onset of World War I that Brutain and France began an evacuation program. We notice evacuations of Paros like t boy here leving in a bus (September 1939). Britain began an even larger evacuation of London nd the major cities. The fear of aerial bombarment was compunded by an even greater terror--poison gas.

There were many causes of the refugee/displaced person crisis during World War II. It was much more complicated than the standarsd refugee crisis of World War I where the refugees were primarily, but not exclusively people fleeing invading armies. The concept of displaced persons is much more appropriate as in World War II, civilians were targeted to a far greater degree than any conflict in modern history. There certainly were people fleeing invading armies, the traditional meaning of refugees. But there was a serious new problem in World War II--mechanized warfare. This meant that invading moved much more rapidly than the refugees and thus refugees were less able to evade the invaders. Another problem was the success of aggressor nations (NAZIs, Soviets, and Japanese) early in the War. This mean that potential refugees had no where to fleet to or were unable to flee. Tragically this was just the beginning of the World War II tragedy. Another cause of refugee movements in World War II was fear of aerial bombardment or the actual bombing. Here there was a mixture of refuges and evacuations, bluring the differnce between the two concepts. Other World War II phenomnon generted larhe numbers of refugees/displaced persons. Much of this would fll into the category ofwar cromes bd crimes against humanity. Here NAZIs and Japanese would be procecuted, the Siviets would not. These phenomnon included: forced deportation, mass evacuation and displacement, perscecution based on ethnicity, mass killing, conscription for forced labor, anti-partisan operations, intra-ethnic violence, stategic bombing and evacuation from the cities. The NAZI approach to many refugee groups shifted toward genocide as the War progressed. There were refugee problems in most of the countries involved in World War II. And the border changes at the end of the War caused additional refugees. Many of these causes have been widely studied. Others are little known today.


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Created: 8:21 PM 8/5/2017
Last updated: 8:22 PM 8/5/2017