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As Allied troops moved across Europe in a series of offensives against Nazi Germany, they encountered and liberated concentration camp prisoners. Many of the prisoners had survived death marches into the interior of Germany. After liberation, most Jewish survivors were unable or unwilling to return to eastern Europe because of antisemitism and the destruction of their communities during the Holocaust. Those who did return often feared for their lives. Many homeless Holocaust survivors migrated westward to territories liberated by the Allies, where they were housed in displaced persons camps (DP) and refugee centers while waiting to leave Europe.
Following World War II, several hundred thousand Jewish survivors remained in camps for displaced persons. The Allies established such camps in Allied-occupied Germany, Austria, and Italy for refugees waiting to leave Europe. Most Jewish DPs preferred to emigrate to Palestine but many also sought entry into the United States. They decided to remain in the DP camps until they could leave Europe. At the end of 1946 the number of Jewish DPs was estimated at 250,000, of whom 185,000 were in Germany, 45,000 in Austria, and 20,000 in Italy. Most of the Jewish DPs were refugees from Poland, many of whom had fled the Germans into the interior of the Soviet Union during the war. Other Jewish DPs came from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania.
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