DP camps in Germany

After the Second World War, about 140,000 Latvian residents remained in Germany, which had been divided into four zones administered by the Allies. To coordinate the accommodation and care of refugees, so-called “Displaced Persons Camps” (colloquially known as DP camps) were established in the American, English and French zones, which were administered by the UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) and later by the IRO (International Refugee Organization). There were hundreds of DP camps in Germany, in which the refugees were grouped mainly by nationality. Conditions in the camps were basic, but tolerable. Some refugees had the opportunity of working within the camp administration, meals were provided from central canteens and clothing was provided from humanitarian packages. Although in the first years after the war the Allies encouraged repatriation, often doing this forcibly, Latvian refugees were no longer threatened with the kind of repression and persecution which was taking place in their homeland. In 1950, when the majority of the refugees left for the USA, Australia, Canada and other countries, most of the camps were closed down, and the Germans took over the administration of the remainder.