chapter  4
Polish Liberators and Ostarbeiterinnen in Belgium During the Cold War: Mixed Marriages and their Differences for Immigrant Men and Women
ByMACHTELD VENKEN
Pages 22

In the aftermath of the Second World War, about 20,000 migrants arrived in Belgium. Among them were Polish soldiers who had served with the Allies and liberated parts of Flanders and Soviet women forced labourers, often called Ostarbeiterinnen, who travelled to Belgium after they had been employed in the Nazi war industry. Both groups had a lot in common. They were young and unmarried upon arrival, and they married Belgians soon afterward. Furthermore, they came from Central and Eastern Europe and their migration and settlement took place on the eve of the Cold War. This geopolitical context made it diffi cult or even impossible for them to visit or return to their homelands. The most important difference between the two groups was that these men and women were differently treated by the gender-specifi c migration and naturalisation policies of their home and host countries. This chapter explores the ramifi cations of these differences upon their experience of arrival and the settlement process.