Refugees and state building in Lithuania and Courland, 1914–21
Looking at developments from the beginning of the First World War until the early 1920s, this chapter considers the impact of ethnic belonging on the treatment of refugees and the changes in ethnic policies over the course of the war and the first years of independent statehood. The focus is on Lithuania and Courland for two reasons, firstly because they both formed part of Ober Ost and therefore shared many of the consequences of occupation. However, displacement and repatriation differed quite significantly between the two regions. The refugee crisis of the First World War and ensuing repatriation irrevocably changed the ethnic fabric of Latvia and Lithuania. Tomas Balkelis considers the process of repatriation and emphasises that refugees 'had to be persuaded or forced to abandon their divergent and multiple identities' in order to become citizens of the newly established independent nation state.
Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria wrested large territories from the Ottomans and expelled hundreds of thousands of Muslims from those lands. This chapter discusses the consequences of the atrocities, in order to address the overarching question of how Muslim refugees during the Balkan Wars experienced their flight and arrival in the Ottoman Empire. It examines the expulsion of Ottoman Muslims in the Balkans and their ordeal in the rump Ottoman state. The violence of the two Balkan Wars, the ensuing population exchanges and expulsions, the First World War, the Armenian Genocide, the Greco-Turkish War, and the 1923 great population exchange occurred within one decade. The violence resulted in unprecedented refugee streams, especially of Muslims to the Ottoman Empire. The chapter also discusses how their experiences as refugees influenced them, how they were received by the host population, and which social problems they faced as refugees.
The German invasion of Belgium in the First World War, from August to October 1914, led to the flight of more or less 1.5 million Belgian civilians. In each of the host countries, the arrival of Belgian refugees led to unprecedented humanitarian action. The relief effort for the refugees showed remarkable solidarity but demonstrated also all the characteristics of charity at that time. In the Netherlands, apart from certain industrial centres around Rotterdam or in Limburg, unemployment was high among Belgian refugees. The absorption of the Belgians into the workforce caused fewer problems in France than in Britain. In Great Britain and to a lesser extent in France, the search for jobs forced many refugees to settle in heavily populated working-class areas. The end of the war gave rise to great expectations among refugees. The vast majority were impatient to return to their families after years of absence.
Hungarian Jewry and the wartime Jewish refugee crisis in Austria- Hungary
This chapter focuses on interactions between the Jewish refugees, Hungarian Jews, and the Hungarian state administration. It highlights questions relevant to the evolution and contours of antisemitism in Hungary, and to the perceptions and self-understanding of the Jewish population within Hungarian society. In organising the movement of Jewish refugees arriving in Hungary, the state was primarily concerned with citizenship, then wealth and health. The Hungarian administration's policy toward refugees with Hungarian citizenship underscores the primacy of state belonging in connection with refugee aid. In the rare cases where the Minister of the Interior granted right of residency, accepted applications demonstrated useful employment in the war industry, no record of having collected state aid, and critically, good hygiene. Refugees whose residency applications were rejected left in a series of transports headed either for repatriation or temporary resettlement in Bohemia and Moravia.
Displaced persons in the Italian linguistic space during the First World War
Marco Mondini and Francesco Frizzera
During the First World War in Italy the question of refugees was vexed and ambiguous, even from a semantic viewpoint. Italian lacks a useful portmanteau expression like 'displaced persons'. The issue of refugees ceased to be a spatially limited problem of public order and became a permanent aspect of coping with the war. After the outbreak of the First World War, the southern border area of Trentino (at that time part of the Hapsburg Empire) became a battlefield. The rural population of Trentino in fact shared a multi-layered identity before the war. The refugees from Trentino were legally supported and subsidised as compatriots in Italy. Although the civilian authorities of Austria and Italy considered the Italian speaking inhabitants of Trentino as loyal Austrian citizens, the same people were considered traitors by the Austrian military authorities.
Refugees in the Austrian part of the Habsburg Empire during the First World War
The unprecedented mass displacement of civilians during the First World War represents a crucial component of the seminal catastrophe of the twentieth century. This chapter introduces refugee/evacuee politics in Austria-Hungary, in particular Cisleithania, and then explores the approach of the Habsburg administration towards refugees. The political framework for the transportation and housing of the refugees only came into being on 13 September 1914, by which time mass flight and deportations from the Eastern Front were already under way. According to a decree of the Ministry of the Interior issued on 15 September 1915, refugees accused of price driving in refugee districts should be deported into a refugee camp. Tight surveillance of the refugees did not prevent the outbreak of strikes and riots inside the refugee camps. A decided aim of educational and cultural policy was to 'alleviate homesickness and pain' among refugees.
Refugee communities and the state in France, 1914–18
This chapter considers how models of republican citizenship shaped France's refugee population. Existing historiography suggests that citizenship may not have been a determining category for French refugees who, it is argued, were alienated by the state. The chapter focuses on French refugees who, although displaced, remained within their country of citizenship throughout the war. It explores the internal dynamics of refugee groups, and in particular how geographic patterns of displacement facilitated the preservation of local communities and identities in exile. The chapter also considers how membership of these local communities helped refugees manage the terms of their displacement as citizens of the French Republic. Refugees, like all citizens, had obligations towards the state. The cornerstone of the national welfare system organised for refugees was the 'allocation', a daily sum distributed on a means-tested basis.
This book talks about the mass displacement of civilians, estimated to be 14 to 15 million, in the twentieth-century Europe during the First World War. It looks at the causes and consequences of the refugee crisis and its aftermath, and the attempts to understand its significance. Key sites of displacement extended from Belgium to Armenia, taking in France, Italy, Austria-Hungary, East Prussia, the Russian Empire, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and Serbia. The German army's occupation of Belgium, France, Poland and Lithuania prompted the mass flight of refugees, as did Russia's invasion of East Prussia in 1914. Jewish, Ruthenian and Polish civilians in the Habsburg Empire fled their homes or were deported by the military to distant locations. Following Italy's attack on Austria-Hungary in May 1915, the Habsburg authorities ordered around 100,000 Slovenian subjects of the empire to leave. The Austrian and Bulgarian invasion of Serbia brought about a humanitarian catastrophe as civilians and the remnants of the Serbian army sought safety elsewhere. However, mass flight of civilian refugees did not begin in 1914 nor did it come to an end in 1918. Muslim refugees fled to the relative safety of Anatolia in order to escape violent persecution by Bulgarian and other forces during the Balkan Wars on 1912-13. There were complex movements of population between Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey before 1914. The complex process of repatriation and resettlement affected soldiers and civilians alike and rarely took place in stable or peaceful circumstances.
Population movements during Greece’s ‘decade of war’, 1912–22
The twentieth century came to be known as the century of the refugee, with the Great War marking the beginning of decades of forced human mobility. This chapter explores the dynamics of the Balkan War in the case of the modern Greek state. It describes the ferment in Ottoman society associated with ideas of nationalism during the nineteenth century. The chapter also describes how this process caused the important population mobility connected to an early attribution of a national identity and the forging of bonds among communities of the Ottoman population with different ethnic communities. It focuses on national antagonisms in the region during the early twentieth century and the turning point of the Balkan Wars. The chapter also focuses on the Great War and the eventual 'nationalisation' of the former Ottoman Empire.
The retreat of the Serbian army and civilians in 1915–16
'Golgotha' vividly illustrates how the relationship between state and society was transformed due to the Great War. The consequences of the fighting in 1912-13 were palpable, when fierce clashes took place between the Serbian army and the Ottoman auxiliary troops composed mostly of local Albanians. Two thirds of the retreating soldiers and civilians passed through Montenegro on their way to the Albanian coast. Almost all military and civilian columns passing through Albania participated in skirmishes of varying intensity and suffered casualties accordingly. The island of Corfu was the political and military focal point of Serbia in exile, but Serbian civilians were to be found grouped in North Africa, France and elsewhere in Europe. The 'Kosovo Day' campaign held in the UK in June 1916 presented a striking illustration of pro-Serb sentiment.