- Displaced Persons
- (DPs)Of the eight million Europeans who had been driven from their countries during World War II, two million were unable to be repatriated and were placed in displaced persons camps that were administered by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). Among the DPs were approximately 50,000 Jews who had been liberated from the concentration camps and found themselves in areas under American control. The Jewish DPs came from all parts of German-occupied Europe, and for many of them, there was no place to which they could return. During the Holocaust, entire towns and villages had been destroyed by the Germans, and many of the DPs were survivors of large families that had been murdered by the Nazis.The camps for the displaced Jews were generally overcrowded, and on occasion the Jewish internees were objects of anti-Semitic taunts from their Allied liberators. The DPs were aided, however, by the relief efforts of the American Joint Distribution Committee. In August 1945, President Harry S. Truman appointed Earl Harrison as his special envoy to inquire into the conditions of the Jews in the DP camps in the American zone in Germany. Harrison was appalled by what he saw, and his report was a devastating indictment of Allied military policy toward the surviving Jews. His report concluded with the observation that “we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them, except that we do not exterminate them.” Based on the report’s findings, President Truman requested the British to grant 100,000 visas to Jewish refugees to enter Palestine. The British, however, still guided by the provisions of the White Paper of 1939, were willing to grant only 6,000 visas.Subsequently, 40,000 refugee Jews, including 30,000 who were residents of the DP camps, were illegally smuggled into Palestine by Zionist groups in the Yishuv.See also Aliya Bet.
Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. Jack R. Fischel. 2014.