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Natallia Hardzijenka. Belarusian DPs in Great Britain.

Belarusian Displaced persons (DPs) in Great Britain were not the largest group of Belarusian immigrants in Great Britain, as it was in other countries after World War II. Former members of Polish armed forces that numbered about ten thousand Belarusians had already created the first national organization – the Association of Belarusians in Great Britain, when the first group of DPs came there. In spite of this, DPs became an important and active part of Belarusian diaspora on the British Isles. A Labour government made the decision to recruit foreign workers to resolve the problem of a labour shortage in essential industries of British economy.

As a result about 80 thousand of DPs from refugee camps in West Germany and Austria (mostly East Europeans) came to Britain during the period of April 1947 through December 1950. There were about one thousand of Belarusians among them. Most of the European Volunteer Workers (British name for former DPs) due to the “Westward Ho!” scheme were directed to unskilled manual work in textiles, coal mining, agriculture and domestic employment.

They lived mostly at special hostels in different parts of Great Britain. British Labour Office tried to limit the opportunity for national groups to work in one location, .so Belarusians, as well as other DPs were dispersed through British fabrics, farms and mines from Southampton to Glasgow. In addition, they were limited in changing the place of work until the expiration of their contracts. However, terms of contract work for DPs in Great Britain weren’t firmly established at the beginning. This resulted in many employers being disoriented, as the laborers weren’t ready to work as unskilled labor with low salaried positions for many years. The aim of British government