chapter  4
3 Pages

LIFE IN THE CAMPS: FROM FOREIGN WORKERS TO DISPLACED PERSONS

The focus of this chapter is the transformations that began to occur in the uncertain lives of the Latvians who fled their country in 1944 as refugees and as asylum seekers. In Germany many of them were forcibly recruited as foreign workers but, at the end of the war, they were again categorised as refugees, as homeless displaced persons (DPs), housed by the Allies in hastily established ‘assembly centres’. In these camps, barracks and requisitioned houses and flats, young Latvian women and their families, friends and other compatriots were able to establish a greater degree of permanency, to achieve some security and to reestablish a semblance of a normal life, even resuming their interrupted education as schools and universities were established. Despite this, life in the camps was also riven by uncertainty as Latvians and other Baltic people, at least initially, feared repatriation. Once this fear had receded somewhat, uncertainty still remained about their future status. In the camps too, strict regulation of bodies and of social relations and economic participation remained constant, and hard work remains as much a theme of this chapter as the previous one.