Sponsored by the Michigan Family History Network
The Cold War:
On March 5, 1946 Churchill spoke at Winston College, Fulton Missouri, 'From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent'. Although many thought he was exaggerating, the term Iron Curtain stuck.
Displaced Persons: (See index page of www.dpcamps.org)
At the end of the war some 120,000 Ukrainians registered themselves as displaced persons (DPs). Most enslaved Ukrainians who survived the war in Germany were forcibly sent back to USSR because of the Yalta agreement. Going back, Ukrainians knew, meant death or exile to Siberia.
The transport was unmarked; they didn't know where he was sent. My dad never saw his brother after that. His train went to Communist Russian-controlled Ukraine, where he went to the tree were he and dad buried a bottle of whiskey. He dug it up and toasted my father, saying,
"Wherever you are, may God be with you."
My mother finally found dad's brother around 1956 in Zaporizhzhya (eastern Ukraine) and supplemented him regularly with packages of clothing for him and his new family.
"They shuffled the DPs from camp to camp," wrote Kathryn Hulme, "uprooting them as soon as they had tacked up a private-room partition or strung a light bulb, giving them no change to create a temporary home."
"Throughout 1947, job offers trickled in from Belgium, Canada and Australia. There were still one million DPs in the camps and many of them had resigned themselves to permanent residence in their temporary quarters. The long-term DPs did their best transform the camps into real communities, setting up barber and cobbler shops, organizing the clothing-distribution warehouses to resemble department stores and setting up camp elections."
These nonrepatriable refugees included 700,000 Poles; 250,000 Baltic refugees; 100,000 Yugoslavs; 50,000* Ukrainians and 1,000,000 Jewish (mostly Polish) who longed for a national home in Palestine (Britannica Book of the Year 1947).
*The statistics vary according to the source. Ukrainians weren't allowed their own identity. The Ukrainians were registered as either Polish or Russians depending on which country dominated their portion of Ukraine. Refusing to be repatriated to Russia, many Ukrainians registered themselves as Poles. Officially, the Ukrainian DPs classification was ordered in fall 1946 in the US Zone, and in spring 1947 in the British Zone.
In 1946-7 a disastrous drought brought a second famine to the war-battered Ukraine.
After the weather improved, the Ukrainians had an excellent harvest yield in 1948.
Olga Kaczmar writes: "I was born in one of these temporary homes in the Aschaffenburg camp near Frankfurt am Main. My mother told me that as a toddler, I would wander about these cloth sheet partitions invading other people's personal space. One day I stole someone's butter and ate it (a mortal sin at the time since butter was scarce)."
Near the end of 1947, news had reached the camp that a US emigration bill would require every DP emigrant to have a sponsor in the US. When not enough sponsors were found, in June 25, 1948, Congress Passed Public Law 774, the Displaced Persons Act which provided for more than 200,000 DPs to enter the US over the next two years. *85,000 were Ukrainians. The USS General Le Roy Eltige made five trips to pick up refugees.
Olga Kaczmar writes: "Finally in December 1949, my family and I were fortunate to be able to come to Boston via this Navy ship."
Unlike the earlier immigrations of 1865 who were illiterate agriculture workers, the Ukrainians who emigrated before 1941 had five or six years of education. However, most members of the third immigration after World War II had at least an eighth grade education, many were college graduates and professional people such as doctors, lawyers, engineers and college professors unwilling to live under Stalin's rule. An important fact also, they were greeted by a well-established Ukrainian community who willingly lend moral and financial support. These immigrants were rapidly assimilated into the American and Canadian societies and made important contributions to American society.
In early 1947, a strong United Nations was considered the key to world peace.
The Communist Party opposed the concept of world government, they referred to it as American imperialism. When Stalin wanted Ukraine and Belarus to be granted seats in the United Nations, Roosevelt said maybe US should have 48 seats, one for each states also. Stalin countered, that he had internal difficulties at home and needed to appease these states. He told Roosevelt that they were rebels, but it was the Ukrainian people and its nationalistic spirit which was too stubborn to die. (General Roman Shukhevich, Commander of UPA, kept the guerrilla war going against USSR until 1950, five years after World War II, when he was killed in action.)
Roosevelt replied he would instruct the American delegation at San Francisco to support acceptance of the Ukraine and Byelo-Russia in the UN. Although the UN was an association of independent state and the Ukraine and Byelo-Russia were no more independent in forming foreign policy, Stalin got his extra two votes. As predicted, Ukraine never conducted its own external foreign relations and these two countries always voted the exact same way Russia did.
The communist coup which followed in Czechoslavkia and the Russian blockade of Berlin showed Stalin's unfriendliness. After Roosevelt's careful attention to ensure that Poland was set up as an independent nation, it fell into Communist hands and soured relations between the Eastern Allies and USSR. Poland's former Prime Minister Mikolajczyk, coming back from exile in London, was imprisoned, along with 100,000 rank and file members of his Peasant Party on election day. He continued to defy the Communist Party, but later escaped by the skin of his teeth to the British zone in Germany.
Similarly, Hungary went over to the Soviet side as the Red Army approached. Europe in 1950 was stable for the first time in its tumultuous history. All this was disappointing for the US to see after all the billions that was dropped into Europe in the name of democracy.
The youth and militant nationalists were all killed in the wars.
The intellectuals, poets, scholars, teachers, scientists and priests, had been exiled to Siberia. The remaining old people and children had been starved, frostbitten and beaten down to submission. Ukrainian language and books were outlawed; the ornate churches were burned or converted to museums. The youth were schooled under the Russian Communist system that believed in no God. The old people, their lips silently moving, practiced their religions behind closed doors. They prayed for their children who never returned from the wars.
Since 1946 the Greek Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox had burrowed underground for the duration of the Communist atheist regime. The priests would secretly come to 'selected' houses and give a Mass. Akin to cloak and dagger spy scenarios, only invited neighbors could attend.