The British Government and European Women Refugees after the Second World War

By Silvia Salvatici

Because of the socio-cultural construction of gender, the figure of the female refugee is considered to be a non-political subject, needing neither aid nor protection. In one of the first large-scale attempts at resettlement, which took place at the end of the Second World War, the English government assumed responsibility for thousands of women refugees from the Baltic countries. These women were recruited as service personnel for sanatoriums; they were selected according age, nationality and the willingness to renounce family ties.
This experience can be considered an important chapter in the history of displaced persons at the end of the Second World War. It reveals a Western Europe dedicated to the reconstruction of national democracies, and willing to receive refugees (but without recognizing either their history or their rights). This type of integration pushed immigrant women towards the social margins, where they were defined by their work, their ethnicity and their gender.

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