The pamphlet Plight of Ukrainian DPs : a few typical letters of many being received daily from Europe describing the tragic plight of Ukrainian displaced persons whom the Soviets would forcibly repatriate and doom to enslavement, persecution or death, was published in 1945. In just 31 pages, it describes the plight of Ukrainian displaced persons at the end of WWII. These millions of Ukrainians had been war refugees or slave laborers forcibly moved by the Germans in their invasion of the Soviet Union and sent to work in German factories and on farms. Although some of the Ukrainians technically volunteered and were supposed to be paid for their labor, most were treated as virtual slaves. They were known as Ostarbeiter (Eastern Laborer), and at the end of the war many were repatriated to their country of origin. Of the 3.5 million Ostarbeiter, about 2.5 million remained alive at war’s end, with the vast majority–over 2 million–being from the Ukraine. This pamphlet details some of the terrible accounts of Ukrainians being repatriated to the Soviet Union and being treated as collaborators, criminals, and worse, some simply executed, while hundreds of thousands of others were sent on for “re-education”, with many winding up in the Soviet Gulags. It was a nightmare position to be in–the slave laborer returned home after the war to be treated as a criminal, and slave again.
| thank my lucky stars every day that I was not born in the Ukraine, proud country though she is. My Dad had very similar experiences at the hands of the Germans and was equally bitter about Russian treatment of Poland.
Like Jo, I’m of Polish heritage, and can echo what she says. Today and yesterday are too horribly similar.