Polish Refugees in New Zealand 1944-1951

Displaced Persons

Displaced Persons

Krystyna Parowska’s French ID Card naming her as having been a prisoner or political detainee at Buchenwald Camp in Germany.

Department of Labour, New Zealand Immigration Service; The Second World War is estimated to have produced more than 70 million refugees and displaced people, the largest exodus in the history of humanity.

Even two years after the war was over, there were still 1,100,000 refugees and displaced people in Europe – victims of forced deportations, survivors of concentration camps and fugitives from advancing armies. Many of these Displaced Persons were housed in camps supervised by the Allies in Germany, Austria and Italy. They were unable or unwilling to return to their home countries, many of which were under communist rule, or had no family or home to return to.

New Zealand accepted four intakes from Europe totalling 4,852 people. They ranged from Baltic nationals, Czechoslovaks, Hungarians, Poles, Bulgarians, Greeks, Russians, Ukrainians and Yugoslavs, to stateless people displaced after the war.

The International Refugee Organisation (the forerunner of UNHCR) and several other organisations arranged the resettlement of Displaced Persons after the war.

Particular care was taken with security screening, to try to ensure that “war criminals, quislings and traitors” were not resettled.

New Zealand personnel based in London interviewed and selected “DPs”, as they were commonly known. Chartered ships arranged by the International Refugee Organisation brought them to New Zealand. They spent their first six weeks to three months in their new country at the immigration camp in Pahiatua, then renamed the Pahiatua Reception and Training Centre.

Refugee Women The New Zealand Refugee Quota Programme; p16-17;