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A Study of Polish DP Immigration to Argentina

For several days, Claudia Stefanetti Kozrowicz of the University of Buenos Aires researched in the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) the subject of Polish Displaced Persons (DPs) who immigrated to Argentina after the Second World War. "We are aware of the two groups - of the former Nazis and of the Jewish refugees. Other immigrants from that period hardly play a role in our historical consciousness," said Kozrowicz.

In the late 1940s, some 6,000 Polish DPs from Italy and England immigrated to Argentina, explained the political scientist. These consisted primarily of Poles who were in the army of General Wladyslaw Anders who fought alongside the Allies against the Germans. The second Polish corps, that was subordinate to the Polish exiled government, was deployed in Italy towards the end of the war and for a short time consisted of more than 75,000 soldiers. In 1946, part of the corps was demobilized in Italy.

Generally, the soldiers preferred the exile in a Western country to the return to a Communist Poland. "The United States and Canada only accepted a limited number of DPs. Therefore, some forged their occupational information, or married Italian women, making it easier to get exit papers for Argentina," said Kozrowicz. "Others tried the way of family reunification with relatives who had already gone to Argentina with a wave of immigration in the 1930s."

Kozrowicz now wants to extend her knowledge about the life of the DPs, their immigration, and their new beginnings, with her research at ITS, especially with studying the records of the refugee organizations UNRRA and IRO (International Refugee Organization). "The Polish immigrants themselves have talked about the war, but never about their situation as DPs in the postwar period, or about their new start in Argentina." Most people found work in the electrical industry and arms production for the Air Force. "They were a closed society. The first years were hard for them, but there was a great solidarity among them," stated the Argentinian. "In their minds, theirs was a temporary exile until the fall of communism in Poland." There was little contact with the Nazis – the former enemies – who had also immigrated, or with the regime of Juan Peron. "The common denominator was probably the anti-communism."

Today, the grandsons of the immigrants feel like Argentinians, while the children still live with the image and the traditions of the pre-war Poland. The scientist who herself has Italian, Polish, Lithuanian, and German ancestors that immigrated between the years 1870-1929, wants to pursue a doctorate on the subject of Polish DPs, and is then thinking about publishing a book on the subject as well.