The end of the Second World War saw many millions of men needing to be demobilised, both Allied troops and those who had fought for the Axis. Men had been displaced around Europe, national boundaries torn up and communities fragmented. This was to lead to one of the biggest migrations of the twentieth century as people moved around a shattered Europe. Britain accepted many ‘aliens’ into the country in the late 1940s. Alongside former foreign service men who had served alongside the allies and no longer had a friendly home to return to (the Poles in particular), there were also prisoners of war who had decided they wished to settle in the UK and also recently captured enemy combatants who wanted to move to the UK. Today we are looking at a fascinating set of papers relating to a former Estonian police officer, Elmar Jarviks who had also served in the Heer (the German Army). The first stage of his journey to Great Britain was to be discharged from the German Army and we have a document here detailing this process which was completed in November 1946:
Six months later Elmar emigrated to the United Kingdom and in May of 1947 was issued with this Certificate of Registration:
The first page of the book provides his photograph, personal details and show that he spent three years as an Estonian police officer and three years with the Estonian Army as a Sergeant Major (whether this is the same as the Heer service on the discharge document or a different period of enlistment is not clear):
Elmar’s time in the UK over the next ten years is recorded in the book as he was required to register with the local police force at whichever location he was residing in the UK and we can see that he started off in Market Harborough, then moved to Rushden:
He next moved to Northampton before going to Leeds to work as a labourer:
He got married at Leeds Registry office in 1950 to Lydia Adele Tosmon, also from Estonia and this detail is also recorded in the book:
After a brief spell in Belfast in 1951 he returned to Leeds before settling in Bradford in 1957:
Finally in 1960 the requirement to register with the police was dropped and he no longer had to report in to them on a regular basis:
Elmar was to spend the rest of his life in Bradford, dying in 1976 and being buried in the city. His wife was to live to the age of 96 and died as recently as 2020.
Sets of documents such as this are incredibly rare and help tell an important story of the demobilisation and resettlement of the German and Axis militaries and the lives some of its former members would go on to have in the United Kingdom.