Personal dossiers of 170,000 migrants

Detail from an International Refugee Organization certificate, 1949 NAA: A11921, B42

The National Archives collection includes personal dossiers of more than 170,000 people who came to Australia between 1947 and 1953 as displaced persons. These records of national significance are listed on UNESCO's Australian Memory of the World register.

During World War II, many people were taken from their occupied homelands in eastern and central Europe to work in German industry. Others fled their homes in the face of occupation. After the war they were unable or unwilling to return, and many were living in refugee camps in Germany.

In 1947, the Australian Government agreed to include such people in its migration program, under the Displaced Persons’ Resettlement Scheme. For a country whose immigration policies had always prioritised people of Anglo-Celtic heritage, it was a significant political shift, which in turn effected a cultural shift.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019