Wednesday, 1 March 2017

New book release 'Beautiful Balts: From displaced persons to new Australians'

If you are like me and have Estonian grandparents who were displaced after WWII you might find this new book of interest. Several members of my family spent time living in German refugee camps before they decided to start a new life in Australia. It was only recently that I discovered that my grandfather originally planned to migrate to Brazil, rather than Australia. I found this information written on his exit form from the Baltic University. My grandmother however, always dreamed of going to the United States but unfortunately her application was rejected. Bearing this in mind, I realise my life would be significantly different if they had reached those destinations. 

170,000 Displaced Persons arrived in Australia between 1947 and 1952 – the first non-Anglo-Celtic mass migrants.

Australia’s first immigration minister, Arthur Calwell, scoured post-war Europe for refugees, Displaced Persons he characterised as ‘Beautiful Balts’. Amid the hierarchies of the White Australia Policy, the tensions of the Cold War and the national need for labour, these people would transform not only Australia’s immigration policy, but the country itself. 

Beautiful Balts tells the extraordinary story of these Displaced Persons. It traces their journey from the chaotic camps of Europe after World War II to a new life in a land of opportunity where prejudice, parochialism, and strident anti-communism were rife. Drawing from archives, oral history interviews and literature generated by the Displaced Persons themselves, Persian investigates who they really were, why Australia wanted them and what they experienced. 

More information abou the book can be found here:
Beautiful Balts: From displaced persons to new Australians