Refugees in Udine, 1945

Refugees in Udine, 1945
Edward Bawden RA
Refugees in Udine, 1945

watercolour on paper
55.2 x 76.2cm
IWM ART LD 5210

Refugees, former “slave labourers”, gather uneasily in the compound, some around a Catholic priest, who is giving out instructions. The Polish prisoners of war are still dressed in their striped clothing. The refugees were part of a particularly complex situation: thousands were on the move, trying to keep ahead of Tito and Stalin’s forces; the Allies advancing into north-east Italy were facing their first stand-offs of the Cold War; and the presence in Udine of armed irregular Serb soldiers only added to the tension. It is not clear whether the refugees are behind wire fences and under armed guard to prevent them escaping or for their own protection.