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May 27, 2010

ULM History Department Head presents at annual military conference

A University of Louisiana at Monroe associate professor presented a conference paper at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History Conference in Lexington, Va., held May 20-23.

Dr. Ralph W. Brown III, head of ULM's Department of History, presented a paper titled "The U.S. Army and the Repatriation of Soviet Citizens in Austria, 1945-1946." The paper concerns the U.S. Army in Austria and its role in repatriating thousands of Soviet citizens during the years immediately following World War II (1945-46).

"I examined mainly the forced repatriation of Soviet citizens, especially those Soviet citizens captured in German uniform," said Brown. "For those forcibly repatriated, this often meant prison or death."

Many of the Soviets captured in German uniform by American forces had been earlier captured by the Germans and forced under threat of starvation and death to serve in Hitler's army, according to Brown.

"When the war ended, the Soviets regarded these people, along with Soviet civilians who had been forced to work in Germany, as traitors and treated them accordingly," Brown said.

"The fate of the repatriated became clear to Americans in Europe by early 1946," he continued. "As a result, American officers serving in Austria recommended against returning these people by force. The War Department in Washington, however, refused to change American policy."

Over 600 historians attended the 77th Annual Meeting in Virginia, which focused this year's theme on "Causes Lost and Won."

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