HISTORY

The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War

Penguin Pr. Sept. 2020. 672p. ISBN 9781594206733. $35. HIST
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Forcefully relocated first by a massive population culling, then war, and finally by its armistice, hundreds of thousands of Europeans left slave labor and death camps during the spring and summer of 1945. Consisting primarily of Polish Catholics, Baltics and Ukrainians, and Jews, the “wandering horde” also included Nazi war criminals and collaborators. While some of these displaced persons returned to homes and families that also survived the horrors of the war, many, by choice or necessity, did not. For nearly a decade, these one million refugees were pawns in international repatriation disputes, the repercussions of which are still felt today. In this lengthy tome, biographer and historian Nasaw (The Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York; Andrew Carnegie) does a masterful job of bringing to light the lasting individual and global consequences of policies and attitudes surrounding the last million. He also traces their lives as they settled in the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Australia, among other countries. As Nasaw reminds readers, contemporary issues surrounding immigration, the Cold War, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and U.S involvement in European and Middle East politics originate here.
VERDICT A thought-provoking, highly recommended perspective on a complex and largely overlooked people and period of modern history.

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