What is the Fifth Fleet?


The Fifth Fleet is the name that I have given to the ships which, chartered by the International Refugee Organization (IRO), brought about 164,100 Displaced Persons from Germany to Australia after World War II, between 1947 and 1951. 

The IRO placed groups of Displaced Persons with escorts on other ships during 1948-51, like the Derna voyage which arrived in Melbourne in November 1948.  More came by ship and air during 1952-54.  There was a total movement of 182,159 people up to the end of 1951--more than the number of convicts sent to Australia in the first 80 years of our modern history.

Read more about them in a book by Egon Kunz called "Displaced Persons:  Calwell's New Australians", published in 1988 by the Australian National University Press, Sydney.  It is out of print now, but may be held by your local library.

In addition to the Mass Movement co-ordinated by the IRO, there were thousands of other refugees produced by World War II who came to Australia.  Examples include Estonians and Latvians who had reached Sweden but who were horrified when "neutral" Sweden handed back their military men to the Soviet authorities in late 1945.  These people were either able to pay for their own tickets and initial settlement or had relatives in Australia who could support them.  The same applied to some Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, while others were support by organizations like the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the Australian Jewish Welfare Society.

The aim of this Web site is to get people with a personal connection to the Fifth Fleet and other refugee movements from Europe during 1946-54, or an interest in them, sharing their information and perhaps reconnecting.

Have a look around, and help to build the site with your comments!

Ann Tündern-Smith

PS  This site now is being archived by the National Library of Australia's Pandora project.

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