Building Yugoslavia in the Sand? Dalmatian Refugees in Egypt, 1944-1946
During the last years of the second World War, some 30,000 Yugoslav refugees found shelter in the Egyptian desert from the German occupation of Dalmatia. In the camp El Shatt, the partisan movement, the nascent UN, Western aid groups and the British army worked together to take care of the refugees and also to negotiate future relations. The Communist Party, with victory in Yugoslavia in sight, sought to showcase its ability to organize and motivate it’s future citizens. Thus, the camps in Egypt became a testing ground for state-building back home. The presentation will explore the tensions that emerged between the self-confident partisans, the suspicious British and UN officials and how the refugees experienced the end of the war in the Egyptian desert.