All of the post-World War II refugees had their stories of hardship and triumph. Here we tell two of them.
In 1943 and 1944, as the Red Army fought its way across Ukraine, people faced a stark choice: stay and live under Stalin or flee and take their chances with Hitler. Neither was a pleasent prospect. Many chose to flee.
After Hitler's defeat they ended up in refugee camps with whatever minimal personal property they were able to carry with them, and with no food, money, and little possibility of employment.
Nonetheless, the Displaced Persons formed a self-contained society within the DP camps, including churches, schools, theaters, and political orgainizations. Eventually, most DPs were resettled to North America, South America, and Australia.
Here are the stories of two DP refugee experiences that come from materials in our archival collections.
Oleksii Balabas was not a typical post-war refugee: he had already spent most of his adult life as a refugee, having been expelled from the Kuban' in 1919. His papers at the UkrHEC Archives tell the story of an "ordinary man" that the great forces of 20th century history put into extraordinary situations.
Vasyl' and Liudmyla Serdiuk were theatrical professionals in Western Ukraine prior to the War, and as refugees brought their history and knowledge to a young generation of Ukrainian-Americans. We tell their story using materials from the Vasyl' and Liudmyla Serdiuk Papers.