After liberation, the Allies were prepared to repatriate Jewish displaced persons (DPs) to their homes, but many DPs refused or were afraid to return. From 1945 to 1952, more than 250,000 Jewish DPs lived in camps and urban centers in Germany, Austria, and Italy. These facilities were administered by Allied authorities and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Survivors began searching for their families. The attempt to reunite families was accompanied by the creation of new ones; there were many weddings and many births in the DP camps. Schools were soon established. Religious holidays became major occasions for gatherings and celebrations. Despite the often bleak conditions—many of the camps were former concentration camps and German army camps—social and occupational organizations soon abounded.
The Allies deliberated and procrastinated for years before resolving the emigration crisis. In increasing numbers from 1945-1948, Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, their nationalism heightened by lack of autonomy in the camps and having few options, chose British-controlled Palestine as their desired destination. The DPs became an influential force in the Zionist cause and in the political debate about the creation of a Jewish state. They condemned British barriers to open immigration to Palestine; mass protests against British policy became common occurrences in the DP camps. On May 14, 1948, the United States and the Soviet Union recognized the new State of Israel. The United States Congress also passed the Displaced Persons Act in 1948, loosening its own immigration restrictions. Within a few years, the DP emigration crisis came to an end with over 80,000 Jewish DPs living in the United States, about 136,000 in Israel, and another 20,000 in other nations, including Canada and South Africa. Almost all of the DP camps were closed by 1952.