Item of the Month: Photograph Album from the White Russian Camp in Kellerberg

The Kellerberg (also spelled Kellerburg) and Feffernitz Camps in Austria housed 10,000 displaced persons between them in the late 1940s. The Camp was located near the town of Kellerberg in the Drava River valley, northwest of Villach, Austria. Largely new barracks, the camp consisted of, at minimum, beds and basic structures, although it was built up to include a Church, Cemetery, Theatre Hall, and barracks for living quarters as more persons arrived. The camp was multinational, Slovenes were the largest group followed by persons from the Baltic countries and other Eastern and Southeastern countries of Europe. While families had their own barracks for privacy, single men and women had separate barracks, one for women and one for men.

Educational courses and sports activities were organized to keep people of all ages involved. Courses included language classes, English and German, although lack of books and resources made progress difficult. The camp even had piano lessons. 

An image of a photograph album with Black and White photographs of the camp
Black and White photographs with views of the camp

This album from the Catholic Women’s League Archive, Relief and Refugee Committee papers, includes 42 black and white photographs with views of the camp, the buildings and structures, and groups involved, as well as a few snapshots of everyday life within the camp. Photographs are captioned: ‘views of the camp’; ‘Russ[ian] Committee’; ‘Sun-watch’; ‘Entrance to the Russian part’; ‘Orth[odox] church’; ‘Cemetery’; ‘Interior of the church’; ‘Choir’; ‘Church Sisters’; ‘Club’; ‘Fountain’; ‘Theatre’; ‘Theatre hall’; ‘Balalaika band’; ‘Theatre group’; ‘Russ[ian] second[ary] school’; ‘Russ[ian] kindergarten’; ‘Russ[ian] boy-scouts’; ‘Queue for lunch’; ‘Fire-brigade’; ‘Tinsmith workshop’; and ‘Canteen’.

The album is made of red velvet covers and bound with coloured string. The cover includes painted characters from a Russian and/or Ukrainian fairy-tale. The figure on the right is most likely Pea-Roll Along, riding a horse and carrying a club or mace to slay the dragon. All Displaced Persons Camps but one were closed by 1952.

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