Advanced Search Filters

In addition to or instead of a keyword search, use one or more of the following filters when you search.

Skip to main content
Bookmark this Item

Film of Displaced Persons Boarding a Ship in Bremerhaven, Germany

Many Displaced Persons (DPs) left Europe through the port of Bremerhaven in a region of occupied Germany controlled by the United States. In October 1948, the General W. M. Black left Bremerhaven carrying the first group of people to immigrate to the US under the recently passed DP Act of 1948. 813 DPs from eleven different countries left Europe with great fanfare.1 Created by documentary filmmaker Julien Bryan, the featured film shows how officials prepared decorations and staged festivities to celebrate the occasion.2

For the DPs, the voyage marked the last step in a long process of emigration from Europe. In order to have qualified for admission to the US under the DP Act, the DPs in the film must have already completed many bureaucratic requirements. They had obtained US visas, secured  American sponsors, received a clean bill of health from a physician, and gathered documents proving their eligibility for DP status. Some of them may have even taken English lessons in DP camps in anticipation of their immigration to the US.

The celebration marking the departure of the General W. M. Black was optimistic, but many DPs found difficulty adjusting to life once they arrived in the US. The promise of the ship’s banner—"America Welcomes Its New Citizens"—did not always hold true. DPs did not arrive in the US as citizens, and the path to citizenship could be long and difficult. Some DPs faced discrimination or discovered that they were unwelcome additions to the regional workforce.3

Leaving Bremerhaven on a vessel dubbed "the ship to freedom" was the culmination of a long emigration process for the DPs aboard—but it was still just the beginning of a long sea voyage and a longer process of adjusting to life in the United States. 

For more on the DP Act, see Haim Genizi, America's Fair Share: The Admission and Resettlement of Displaced Persons, 1945–1952 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1993).

Experiencing History features other footage captured by Bryan, including two items in this collection: Film of DPs Studying in Camp Grohn and Film of Displaced Persons Registering with the International Refugee Organization

For more on friction among recently arrived DPs and the US population, see the related Experiencing History item, Albert Barnett: "Negro Workers Leave the South; Displaced by DPs in the North."

Close Window Expand Source Viewer

This browser does not support PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it: .

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Accession Number 2003.213
RG Number 60.4186
Source Number 3026
Date Created
Duration 00:03:44
Time Selection 00:28–04:12
Sound No
Videographer / Creator
Julien Bryan
Bremerhaven, Germany
Moving Image Type Raw Footage
How to Cite Museum Materials

Thank You for Supporting Our Work

We would like to thank The Alexander Grass Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for Experiencing History. View the list of all donors and contributors.


Learn more about sources for your classroom