End of war. Liberation. Long way home

The exposition on the final stages of war in Europe consists of two parts. A collage of photos of destroyed European cities conveys an atmosphere of devastation and the losses that the war has left behind. Documents, posters, photographs – all of them talk about the return (repatriation) of the former prisoners of concentration camps, forced laborers and prisoners of war back to the USSR and their post-war settlement at home. The Road Home installation shows a decorated train that symbolizes the anticipation and joy of coming home. A separate part of the hall is dedicated to the events of the first postwar years in Shostka. The exposition presents photos of the city in the first days after the Red Army entry, the return of workers from evacuation to their enterprises, and pages of the Zorya newspaper telling about the establishing of peaceful life.

The end of war brought to former Ostarbeiters liberation from German captivity but not personal freedom. After the fighting was over, most of the returnees spent some time in camps for displaced persons. In order to return to their homeland, they first had to be checked by NKVD-NKDB in special pre-emptive and filter camps on the border of the USSR and then undergo registration and another check with the local police. Each arriving repatriate was required to get a special personal case open, or “an accounting case for repatriates,” or “a filtration case.” By the results of the filtration check as of March 1, 1946, only 57.8% of those checked were allowed to return to their previous places of residence, 19.1% were drafted into the army, 14.5% were enlisted into labor battalions, and 6.5% were arrested. Gregory Mikhalchuk and Oleksandra Korotko were separated in the filter camp. Gregory was mobilized to a working battalion. Pregnant Olexandra returned to her native village of Antonivka, Yampilsky district. They never saw each other again. Former prisoner of war Ivan Kharitonov and Ostarbiter Efrosinia Suschenko, Maria Masich and Ivan Dotsenko, Anastasia Zaryazhko and Ivan Tzis all met in German captivity and retained their families.