The Nansen Commission and the Romanian Prisoners of War’s repatriation from the Russian territories

Ioana Ecaterina Cazacu
“Al. I. Cuza” University of Iassy, Faculty of History, E-mail: ioanacazacu@yahoo.com

Acknowledgments
This paper has been presented at the Second International Conference on Nordic and Baltic Studies in Romania: Black Sea and Baltic Sea Regions: confluences, influences and crosscurrents in the modern and contemporary ages hosted by the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies, Târgoviste, May 20-22, 2011. This research for this paper was achieved with the support of the POSDRU/88/1.5/S/47646 project.

Abstract:

The end of the Great War was the beginning of a long string of problems requiring immediate solutions, one of the most important of which being the repatriation of former prisoners of war. Given the fact that there were a large number of prisoners as a result of the huge amount of troops engaged in the conflict, we can approximate a number of 6,637,000 prisoners at the end of the war. This situation did not remain without consequences in the international debate. At the Paris Peace Conference, the General Secretariat had organized a Special Committee on all matters relating to prisoners. The lead of the Commission was entrusted to Fridtjof Nansen, explorer, scientist and public figure of the period. However, there were a number of difficulties generated by the absence of Russia from the Peace Conference. This country did not obey any decisions of the Commission, having neither rights, nor duties. To solve the problems, the High Commissioner made use of the prestige given by the League of Nations in order to facilitate the carrying out of his duty, but in reality the effort to repatriate the prisoners was supported by humanitarian agencies and private organizations, for example the International Red Cross. Overall the Mission led by Dr. Nansen managed to repatriate 427,885 prisoners, 19,188 of whom were Romanians.

Rezumat:
Sfârşitul Marelui Război a fost începutul unui şir lung de probleme care necesitau soluţii imediate, dintre care unul dintre cele mai importante a fost repatrierea foştilor prizonieri de război. Având în vedere faptul că a existat un număr mare de prizonieri, ca urmare a magnitudinii trupelor angajate în conflict, putem aproxima un număr de 6.637.000 de prizonieri la sfârşitul războiului. Această situaţie nu a rămas fără consecinţe în cadrul dezbaterii internaţionale şi la Conferinţa de Pace de la Paris, Secretariatul General a organizat un comitet special cu privire la toate aspectele legate de prizonieri. Conducerea Comisiei i-a fost încredinţată lui Fridtjof Nansen, explorator, om de ştiinţă şi figură publică a perioadei. Cu toate acestea, au existat o serie de dificultăţi generate de absenţa Rusiei de la Conferinţa de Pace. Această ţară nu se supunea nici uneia din deciziile Comisiei, neavând nici drepturi, nici obligaţii. Pentru a rezolva problemele, Înaltul Comisar a făcut uz de prestigiul dat de către Liga Naţiunilor pentru a facilita realizarea scopului său, dar, în realitate, efortul de a repatria prizonierii a fost susţinut de către agenţiile umanitare şi de organizaţiile private, de exemplu de Crucea Roşie Internaţională. În general, misiunea condusă de dr. Nansen a reuşit să repatrieze 427.885 de prizonieri, dintre care 19.188 au fost români.

Keywords: POWs; Russia; The International Red Cross; The International Relief Credit Commission; Nansen Commission.

https://balticnordic.hypotheses.org/files/2018/12/10.-Cazacu.pdf