Workshop, 28th June 2018, Newcastle University, UK

The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, or UNRRA, was the first truly international humanitarian effort to prevent famine, destitution, and disease after a major conflict. Until the creation of UNRRA in 1943, war and post-war relief was predominantly carried out by charities, philanthropic individuals, or societies, each of which had independent aims and motives. Between its creation in 1943 and its closure in 1947, UNRRA provided emergency relief and long-term rehabilitation to millions of refugees and displaced persons (DPs) who fell under its mandate. UNRRA’s action in the international arena marked a watershed moment in international relations, human rights, and refugee humanitarianism. In shaping migration policy and conflict resolution and reconstruction processes, the Administration established a precedent for the emergence of the modern-day United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as well as for future UN specialised agencies, such as UNICEF, UNESCO, and WHO. In many ways, UNRRA can be viewed as a lens through which we can understand present-day challenges in the world today.

This one-day workshop, which will be held on Thursday, June 28th 2018 at Newcastle University, will bring together like-minded scholars and experts of UNRRA with the aim of revealing how humanitarian needs conflicted with administrative and political restrictions within the context of WWII and its immediate aftermath. The Keynote (Title TBC) will be delivered by Dr Jessica Reinisch (Birkbeck, University of London). Read the UNRRA abstracts‌.

This workshop is generously funded by Newcastle University Humanities Research InstituteCultural Significance of Place, and the International Studies in Forced Migration Group. Registration is free, but please contact Samantha Knapton ([email protected]) and or Katherine Rossy([email protected]) to register. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Beyond Relief and Rehabilitation: UNRRA in Historical Perspective, 1943-1947 


Thursday, 28 June 2018 - Newcastle University, Armstrong Building

09:30 – 10:15     Coffee and Registration

10:00 – 10:15     Welcome Remarks: Samantha Knapton and Katherine Rossy

10:15 – 11:45     Panel I: Trajectories of Displacement

                          Chair: Samantha Knapton (Newcastle University)

  • “Armed with nothing more than “the two hands, the smile, and the trust in God:” UNRRA Efforts to Aid Holocaust Survivors in the Immediate Postwar Period in Germany”

    – Kierra Crago-Schneider (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

  • “Polish Prisoners, Patients, and the Elderly in American-occupied Germany. Marginalised Refugees in the Aftermath of World War II (1946-1949)”

    – Katarzyna Nowak (University of Manchester)

  • “UNRRA and the Unaccompanied Children: Child Search in the American Zone of Occupied Germany (1945-1947)                                                                – Widy Novantyo Susanto (Bilkent University)

11:45 – 12:00     Coffee and Tea

11:30 – 13:00     Panel II: A New Kind of Humanitarianism                          

                           Chair: Jessica Reinisch (Birkbeck, University of London)

  • “Communists Need to Eat, Too: The UNRRA Missions to Ukraine and Byelorussia”                                                                                                – Amanda Bundy (Columbus Academy)

  • “Machines, Oxen, and the Ghosts of War: UNRRA in China”                             – Joseph Lawson (Newcastle University)

  • “Paving the way for a new democracy? UNRRA in post-war Italy”                     – Silvia Salvatici (University of Milan)

13:30 – 14:15     Lunch

14:15 – 15:45     Panel III: UNRRA in Global Perspective

                          Chair: Katherine Rossy (Queen Mary University of London)

  • “UNRRA and the Near East Foundation”                                                         – Joshua Thew (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies)

  • “Saving Volos: The UNRRA and The Orlando Plan”                                          – Lisa Camichos (Hickory High School)

  • “Feeding Europe under British Rationing: Relief Efforts for the Continent after the Second World War”

    –  Kelly Spring (University of Manchester)

  • “The Legacy of UNRRA in Italy: Administration for International Aid”                – Domenica La Banca (University of Florence)

16:15 – 16:30     Coffee and Tea

16:30 – 17:30     Keynote Address

                             Dr Jessica Reinisch (Birkbeck, University of London)

17:30 – 18:30     Wine Reception

This workshop has been generously supported by Newcastle University’s Humanities Research Institute (NUHRI), the Cultural Significance of Place (CSoP), and the International Studies in Forced Migration Group.