By comparing Soviet and Western archives, together with testimonies from Baltic refugees, this article describes the organisation and fate of Baltic displaced persons (DPs) who happened to be on German soil at the end of the Second World War. The collective reputation of the group, a determining factor for its migratory prospects, altered as the relationship between the USSR and its former allies deteriorated. In the aftermath of the Second World War and with the escalation of the Cold War, Baltic countries were alternatively defined as “Hitler’s accomplices” or as “Stalin’s victims”. International organisations, along with the Western High Command in Germany and the Soviet authorities, participated in controversies that eventually led to the massive emigration of Baltic refugees to the West. In that process, the political antagonism surrounding DPs was coupled with an ideological conflict. Through their representatives and thanks to collective mobilisation, Baltic displaced persons managed to maintain their stance in the conflicts of the early Cold War and create a collective identity that facilitated their resettlement in the West.
By Juliette Denis