Established in 1946, the International Refugee Organization (IRO)1 assumed responsibility for providing housing and food to Displaced Persons (DPs). The organization also helped DPs navigate various countries’ different immigration requirements, conducted medical examinations, and processed paperwork for immigration applications.2 In addition, the IRO fingerprinted every DP and cataloged them in their application for DP status.3
The featured film depicts some administrative steps completed by DPs in Linz, Austria, as they sought to immigrate to a new home. Directed by Julien Bryan—a well-known American documentary filmmaker—the 1946 film depicts the IRO documentation process as orderly and carefully administered. The applicants appear eager and compliant. While the purpose of the film is unknown, it may have been screened as part of newsreels shown in American movie theaters before feature films.
Although the film depicts a regimented and efficient procedure, filing immigration paperwork was often a frustrating and challenging endeavor. Applicants had to clear a series of bureaucratic hurdles before they could even receive DP status, and further administrative obstacles had to be overcome before they could emigrate from Europe.
Why was this type of film created and shown in the US? It is possible that its creators hoped to dampen anti-immigrant sentiment and boost support for the DP Act among the American public.