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10 June 2021

Refugees from Еastern Еurope in Сzechoslovakia after the First World War

Sumy Historical and Archival Journal
Refugees from Еastern Еurope in Сzechoslovakia after the First World War

As a result of complex internal politics situation in the Russian empire — the World War, the February Revolution and the fall of monarchy were spreading — hundred thousands of inhabitants decided to leave the country. “The Russian emigration of the whole stage” or “The White emigration” (1917-1922) during the Civil war years has changed into a mass issue. Part of the refugees were headed east — to Manchuria and China, however, most of them preferred Europe, USA etc. For most countries of western and central Europe struggling with economic problems and social impact of the WWI, refugees — emigrants from Russia have become a burden that complicated to find a solution to own social-political and economic issues. At the time when the emigration wave from Russia affected several countries to a big extent, young Czechoslovak republic offered a different approach. The Czechoslovak government adopted a specific stance on a relation to “Russian” refugees — it started a goal-directed regulation of their influx in a effort to concentrate the best cultural powers in the country. In Czechoslovakia, probably the best conditions for emigration were created in a short time and a state plan of a huge financial aid for refugees called “Russian helping action” (1921-1937) was approved. Thanks to important material aid from Czechoslovak government and a moral support of political and social structures of Czechoslovakia, tens of Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian institutions and organisations of culture-educational character were established in the country. Their purpose was to create spiritual and material values and secure spiritual and material needs of emigrants. Czechoslovak government viewed the “Russian” emigration as a factor of political and cultural life, taking traditional russophile moods of a big part of Czech and Slovak society and particular economic interests into consideration.

Source: Šmigel M., Menkovskiy V. (2017) Refugees from Еastern Еurope in Сzechoslovakia after the First World War. Sumy Historical and Archival Journal. № XXVIII: 29-41

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