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Barton, Betty. / The problem of 12 million German refugees in today's Germany

Section III: What are the problems of the individual refugee?,   pp. 20-29 PDF (3.3 MB)

Page 29

seeking work. In other words, 83 per cent of the employable males were
Comparable statistics for Bavaria in March, 1947, or 18 months ear-
lier, show only 76 per cent of the same group at work. However, in June,
1948, just prior to currency reform, 92 per cent of the Bavarian refugee
employables were at work. Apparently 28,000 lost work when marginal
laborers were dropped from payrolls as the tightness of money followed
the monetary reform. The outsider is always at a disadvantage in com-
petition with the in-group under such circumstances.
The above figures certainly must not be interpreted to indicate that
there is no problem of unemployment among the refugees. They show
on the other hand that in a country with "full employment," as
is the
situation in Germany today, 17 per cent of the ablest of the refugees in
need of employment cannot find work. In addition to these, there are
the hundreds of thousands of marginal laborers. Included in such a
group are the partially-trained apprentices who went to war or were
expelled before completing training. These represent a more important
factor in Germany than in the USA because of the importance of craft
unions there. Also to be considered are the tremendous numbers of
not fully employable males because of poor health and war injuries.
The problem of women who must work because there is no employable
man in the family is not included at all in the above optimistic picture.
The Special Problems of Children and Youth
The children in the refugee group certainly have no responsibility
for the position in which they find themselves. While the situation of
the adults is unfortunate, it is the moral responsibility of society to give
special protection to the children. They should be guaranteed minimum
essential food, clothing, heat, education, and decent standards of privacy
in living accommodations. They do not have such protection. Every
fourth refugee is a child under 14 years of age.
The adolescent refugees, both boys and girls, in the 14 to 18 or 20-
year groups are particularly pathetic. One social worker spoke of them
as "retarded but over-developed," the victims of a lost childhood.
contribute heavily to the "wandering youth" who are a post-war
lem in Germany as in Italy and France. Many studies and quite a bit of
documentation are available covering this group as a whole. The same
problems, the same needs, run through all "wandering youth" and
nile delinquent groups. They are intensified among refugee youth be-
cause the latter are more foot-loose. Therefore, a larger percentage of
the age-group is involved than from among the normal population. By
the same token, there are fewer opportunities for social stabilization. It
is a group which is peculiarly sensitive to community ostracism.
1 Report of the Bavarian Social Ministry to the U. S. Military Government,
Oct. 31, 1948.

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