This article examines the history of French relief and assistance to Displaced Persons between 1945 and 1947 and the role of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in the French zone of occupation in Germany's South West. For French planners and humanitarian workers, the problem of ‘non repatriable’ DPs was much more than a humanitarian problem and was bound up with issues of domestic reconstruction, policies of occupation, culture and identity as much as the provision of medical aid and relief. Overall, by bringing together issues that have been kept separate in the historiography, this article illuminates the role of distinctive diplomatic strategies, economic requirements and cultural differences in shaping understandings and practices of refugee humanitarianism in the aftermath of the Second World War. It uncovers, in particular, the way relief was understood by the French as a vehicle for pursuing international leadership and as a means of restoring national prestige following years of defeat and foreign occupation.
- Displaced Persons France Postwar Germany Reconstruction UNRRA Humanitarianism