The Last Million: Europe's Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War
The terrible toll of World War II did not end when the fighting in Europe stopped in 1945. Millions of refugees – concentration camp survivors, POWs, slave laborers, political prisoners, and Nazi collaborators fleeing Russia’s Red Army – remained in a devastated Germany, malnourished and increasingly desperate.
Many were repatriated to their homelands. More than 1 million were not, including some 250,000 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust whose homes in Europe had vanished. Assistance from other countries, including the United States, never came or lagged.
Renowned historian David Nasaw recounts this tragic postscript to the war in a discussion of his book The Last Million: Europe's Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War. Those stranded refugees spent the next three to five years in camps, divided by nationality, with their own police forces, churches and synagogues, schools, newspapers, theaters, and infirmaries. By 1952, the Last Million were scattered around the world.
Nasaw is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist for biographies on Andrew Carnegie and Kennedy family patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy and earned the Bancroft Prize for History and J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst. A past president of the Society of American Historians, he serves as a distinguished professor emeritus of history, biography and memoir, and American studies at the City University of New York.
His presentation – co-presented by the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education – is livestreamed at youtube.com/kclibrary (no RSVP necessary).