At the end of the Second World War, millions of Displaced Persons found themselves against their will on the territory of what had been the German Reich. Most of the prisoners-of-war, forced labourers and non-Jewish concentration camp inmates returned to their home countries. For most of the Jewish survivors, that was no longer possible.
Across great areas of Europe, the Jewish communities had been destroyed. 250,000 Jewish survivors and refugees gathered in the allied occupation zones in Germany and Austria. Most of them were from Eastern Europe. They were put up in DP camps. Almost all wanted to leave Europe and settle in the United States or Palestine. Thousands were smuggled illegally through Tyrol and Salzburg to the refugee boats of the Zionist organisations.
Survivors also gathered in Vorarlberg, which was occupied by France. Most were orthodox Jews from Eastern Europe. At least a thousand refugees stayed in Hohenems and Bregenz between 1945 and 1954, but for many it was just a brief stop on their journey.
The refugees and the local population did not always get along well—the survivors in crowded quarters in houses that had belonged to Jews or in guesthouses or private homes were perceived by some locals as an affront and as an uncomfortable reminder of theNazi past they would rather forget. next ►