About the Project

The aim of our project is a thorough historical analysis of the post-world war II migration movements by focusing on specific groups of Displaced Persons and refugees, their situation in Austria and Germany as well as their further life trajectories. Thereby our understanding of the relation between migrant agency and institutional responses to violence induced mass mobility will be enhanced. It will also improve our practical understanding of the social and political effects of historical resettlement policies and past mass migration management operations.

This project argues that integrating migration studies with the history of societies at the junction of the Second World War and later the Cold War allows to analyse experiences and outcomes of the displacement crisis which shaped how we perceive, understand and deal with refugees and displacement in the present.

The research done in the course of our project will advance our understanding of the different (supra)national institutions who were charged with managing the situation and will emphasize the role and agency of the migrants themselves in shaping their own future within the framework of the migration regimes. In our analysis, optics of class, gender, health condition, age and ethnicity will be used in order to differentiate between the varied responses to displacement by the victims of state violence and forced migration.

The research for this project is realized by two PhD and one Post Doc researcher in three individual research projects:

The three research projects are thoroughly linked and create an innovative approach on different levels:

  • By the framing of a chronological and process-orientated model which places the three studies at crucial junctions: the negotiation of DP-Status, the medical care provided by (inter)national authorities, the agency of DPs/refugees with regard to their emigration & the negotiation for status transition when remaining DPs/refugees entered the receiving society.
  • By its scaled approach which begins with a very broad analysis and then focuses on the situation in Austria and Germany.
  • By the use of the same core sources, the CM/1 files at the Arolsen Archives linked to specific sets of documents relevant for the individual project.
  • By the joint use of a GIS-based database to integrate all life-event data collected in the three projects

Departing from a top-down approach to the study of migration policies, this project thus proposes a systematic analysis of the interplay between governance and migrants' agencies, making use of hitherto underexplored data, especially from (Bad) Arolsen and Vienna. Besides the realization of monographs and peer-reviewed journal articles, one goal of this project is to hold an international conference.

For more questions please contact the project team.