World Refugee Year and West German charitable aid to the global South, 1959-1960 the case of Algeria Speaker - Mathilde Von Bulow Chair - Bernhard Blumenau
For over a decade after the Second World War, West Germany hosted over twelve million expellees, refugees, and displaced persons requiring assistance and shelter as well as resettlement or repatriation. Defeated and in ruins, the country overcame this crisis with massive injections of foreign aid from both state and non-state actors. Yet by the end of the 1950s, and seemingly overnight, West Germany went from being a major recipient to one of the world's leading donors of foreign (refugee) aid. Spearheading this transformation were the country's main non-statutory relief organisations, both religious and secular. Coinciding with the transformation was World Refugee Year (1959-1960), a global campaign initiated by the United Nations to seek solutions to some of the most persistent refugee crises around the world. This article examines the response of West German non-statutory relief organisations to World Refugee Year. Focusing on aid given to Algerian refugees, the article explores how and why German relief agencies became such important donors of foreign aid. The Algerians were not among the nominated groups that World Refugee Year sought primarily to aid. Yet the aid they received, which in relative terms surpassed that given to most nominated groups, is indicative of a more fundamental transformation of West German engagement with the global South.