Side-by-side photos compare today's refugee crisis with World War II

Published November 1st, 2015 - 05:43 GMT
Left: Refugees are being escorted by police to buses in Slovenia. Right: Polish immigrants are expelled from their homes following the German invasion in 1939. (Getty/Wikimedia Commons)
Left: Refugees are being escorted by police to buses in Slovenia. Right: Polish immigrants are expelled from their homes following the German invasion in 1939. (Getty/Wikimedia Commons)

Conflicts in the Middle East and Africa have left vulnerable populations fleeing their home countries and making the risky journey to Europe. 

It's the largest migration movement Europe has seen since World War II, and it's changing Europe's population as we know it. The crisis may be unprecedented in a lot of ways — but it still looks familiar.

Seventy years into the future, the migration patterns between the time refugees fled Germany and the current crisis, when refugees are flooding there, might be more similar than you would expect. 

Left: A boat carrying Jewish immigrants heads to Palestine. Right: A boat carrying African immigrants heads to Italy (courtesy of AFP).

Left: Ships of Polish refugees landing in Iran in 1942. Right: Ships of immigrants landing in Italy.

Left: A mother carries her child as immigrants flee Germany in the winter. Right: A group of Syrians walk on the railroad tracks en route to Europe in the summer heat (courtesy of AP).

Left: Refugees are being escorted by police to buses in Slovenia (courtesy of Getty). Right: Polish immigrants are expelled from their homes following the German invasion in 1939.

According to the UN, 19.5 million refugees have been displaced as of this year, with another 38.2 million refugees internally displaced in their home countries. It's comparable to the roughly 60 million people displaced post-World War II, 12 million of whom were German. 

The similarities don't stop there. European figures have often expressed anti-Arab sentiments to justify their policies of not letting refugees in, echoing anti-Semitic responses many countries had — including the US — to Holocaust refugees.

“It’s just a political issue that is being ramped up by those who can use the excuse of even the smallest community as a threat to the sort of national purity of the state,” Zeid Raad al-Hussein, UN high commissioner for human rights, told the Guardian. "... If we cannot forecast the future, at least we have the past as a guide that should wisen us, alert us to the dangers of using that rhetoric.”

By Hayat Norimine


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