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The research aims to shed light on those refugees from Nazism who had to flee from Austria to Britain, were deported to Canada and detained there in internment camps. The data collected in Canadian, British, and Austrian archives should provide a basis for identifying these Austrians and will serve as a basis for further biographical and collective biographical research, e.g. to determine the geographic and social origin of the so called “interned refugees”, their age structure and vocational training or their subsequent lives in Canada or elsewhere.

During research, 663 Austrians have so far been identified among the refugees deported to Canada. 343 men returned to Great Britain during the Second World War; after the unlawful deportation of refugees to Canada had become known to the British Parliament and the public and had been strongly criticized, the British government had granted a possibility of a return after an individual case examination. Another seven Austrians were released to third countries (e.g. Cuba, Argentina) and 313 Austrian men remained in Canada. They were released from Canadian internment in a process that lasted about two years, until the end of 1943. A large number of them remained in Canada and built a new life there. A smaller number of them later moved on (mainly to the United States of America); reasons were education, job offers or the desire to be able to live together again with surviving relatives.

As part of the project work, several presentations were given at conferences in Canada, Austria, Poland, Germany and Great Britain. Two peer-reviewed articles in English („Traveling knowledge: Refugees from Nazism and their Impact on Art Music and Musicology in post-1945 Canada“ and „Forced to flee and deemed suspect: Tracing life stories of interned refugees in Canada during and after the Second World War“) have been written for anthologies published by Routledge and Transcript, respectively. A further contribution will be published in the anthology “Hinter verschlossenen Toren – die Internierung von Geflüchteten von den 1930er Jahren bis in Gegenwart“ edited by Gabriele Anderl (Theodor Kramer Verlag Vienna).

Project team: Andrea Strutz (head), Michaela Tasotti and Thomas Schreiber.
The research is funded by the Future Fund of the Republic of Austria, P19‐3632 and the Federal Government of Lower Austria


Austrian Immigration to Canada from the late 19th century until the late 1960s

Migrations have to be considered as essential, persistent, and significant factors of societal change. Motivations and causes for migrations (e.g. internal, international or transcontinental) – be it voluntary or forced, temporary, seasonal or permanent – are multifaceted and complex. The project “Austrian Migration to Canada” comprises various types of migrations such as economic migration processes of Jewish and non-Jewish Austrians (e.g mass migration movements prior to World War One or in the post-World War Two period) as wel l as forced migration of Jewish refugees between 1930 and 1945 and further includes resettlements of displaced persons and refugees in the aftermath of WWII via Austria (that functioned as transit country in the post-WWII period). 

Furthermore, the study includes temporary migrations as well as return migrations, which is a topic that had been overlooked for a long time in migration research that now gains increasing awareness. The research approach on the subject matter is twofold: It is the aim to improve acquaintance on legal possibilities and the practice of transatlantic Austrian migration (permanent and temporary) as well as the interaction of authorities of the nation states concerned against the historical background in post-war Europe (mainly based on archival material). Ample attention in the research will be given to the individual level by studying the experiences of migrants and the effects of transnational migration on a biographical level. This part of the study will be carried out by means of a cultural studies approach, which includes analysis of historical memory drawn from a number of oral history interviews. Hence, relevant interviewees for the study are:  

a) Austrian Jewish women and men who came to Canada between 1938 and 1970 (e.g. those who fled from Austria after the “Anschluss” 1938 and came to Canada in the course of their escape; refugees who had been transferred from Great Britain to Canada as “enemy alien” in 1940; an those who first found refuge Israel/Palestine, Great Britain etc. but resettled due to various reasons to Canada in the post-war period)
b) Austrian women and men who migrated directly from Austria to Canada in the 1950s and 1960s
c) Austrian return migrants who after a certain amount of time in Canada moved back to their place of birth.

Closed projects (selection)

"Wiedergutmachung" - Opferfürsorge in der Steiermark 1945 bis 1964

(German only)

Das im Jahr 1947 beschlossene Opferfürsorgegesetz zugunsten der Opfer des Kampfes um ein freies, demokratisches Österreich und der Opfer politischer, rassistischer, nationaler oder religiöser Verfolgung durch den Nationalsozialismus sah in seiner ursprünglichen Fassung lediglich Sozial- und nicht »Wiedergutmachungsleistungen« vor. Das vorliegende Buch thematisiert die regionale Vollzugspraxis dieser Opferfürsorge am Beispiel der Steiermark mit Schwerpunkt auf die ersten beiden Nachkriegsjahrzehnte.

Social Partner Ship - A Framework for Socio-Economic Development in Europe? The Consensual Political Cultures of the Small West European States in Comparative and Historical Perspective, short: "Smallcons.

EU project, 5th Framework

The research (comparative study of social partnership development in six Western European  countries) lasted from lasted from 2003 to 2006 and was financed by the 5th Framework of the EU and the Swiss Ministry of Education. Participants: University of Amsterdam, University of Lausanne, University of Copenhagen, University of Göteborg, University of Graz, and University of Helsinki.

Project description

Results WP 10: Paths in Austrian and Finnish History

Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr.phil.

Andrea Strutz

Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr.phil. Andrea Strutz Institut für Geschichte
Phone:+43 316 380 - 2618

Nach Vereinbarung per E-Mail (bevorzugt montags)

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