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War and Resettlement: Polish Resettlement Camps in the UK after the Second World War. The experience of creating a settlement policy for Polish political refugees

Citation: Blaszczyk, Agata (2020) War and Resettlement: Polish Resettlement Camps in the UK after the Second World War. The experience of creating a settlement policy for Polish political refugees. [Discussion or working paper]

RLI WPS No.45.pdf

Creative Commons: Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

The subject domain of this paper is Polish immigration to post-War Britain. It portrays the Polish community’s rehabilitation in exile and the British government’s creation of a model migrant settlement policy for Polish refugees after 1946. It explains how Poles successfully integrated into mainstream British society and highlights the importance of education as their route to civic integration. The research leading to this paper examined the political implications of the passage of the Polish Resettlement Bill in March 1947 (the first ever British legislation dealing with mass immigration) and how the original refugees formed much of the Polish community as it exists today. The exceptional aspects of this legislation in terms of modern British refugee policy lay in its clauses relating to the Polish refugees’ entitlement to government support in key areas of social life. Major government departments were assigned special duties linked to the management, organization and support of this group of immigrants. Each of them took different responsibilities. A good deal of this paper is dedicated to the creation of the Polish Resettlement Camps in Britain in 1946. At the end of the Second World War the British Government offered hospitality to Polish soldiers who had served under British command and who were unable or unwilling to return to their native country. Wives and dependents were brought to Britain to join the soldiers, bringing the total estimated number to over 250,000. Former army and air force camps were utilised as temporary accommodation for the Polish troops and their families. In due course, the Poles emerged as dedicated contributors to the rebuilt British economy. In the workplace they have always been seen by Britons as hard-working and reliable employees. Those who obtained secondary or higher education found profitable and prestigious posts in the British labour market and made successful professional careers. Children of Polish descent, who were born, brought up and educated in the reality of the resettlement camps or hostels have engaged in professional careers and made their Polish names recognizable in a rapidly diversifying British society. Polish refugees became one of the most prosperous immigrant groups in Great Britain and the Polish minority constitutes one of the largest ethnic groups in the UK today.

Creators: Blaszczyk, Agata and
Subjects: Human Rights & Development Studies
Sociology & Anthropology
Keywords: exile, forced migration, resettlement, migration policies, education and integration
Divisions: Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Refugee Law Initiative
  • 6 May 2020 (published)


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