History, Department of
Date of this Version
After WWII, there were millions of refugees in Germany, Austria, & Italy. By 1946, those who could be were repatriated. But a new wave of Holocaust survivors, ethnic Germans, and anticommunists from the East was to follow. Only solution for these: integration into new countries or emigration overseas. For the occasion, Italy became a transit route. The shortest way to seaports such, as Genoa, ran over the Brenner and other passes. At first it was mainly Italian forced labourers from Germany, making that route to go home. Former Nazi camps, like Bolzano's, became refugee camps. Many Holocaust survivors used the route to Genoa & Trieste for a passage to Palestine. Meran too became a station for Jewish refugees, and war criminals. According to S. Wiesenthal, some survivors and their perpetrators spent the night under the same roof in South Tyrol: the Nazis on the first, the Jews on the second floor. Smuggling people across the border became a business.
Published in Studi Emigrazione/Migration Studies, XLIII, n. 164, 2006. Copyright 2006, Centro Studi Emigrazione. Used by permission.