In 1958 the British Conservative political journal Crossbow proposed a ‘plan to save the refugees’. The authors envisaged a ‘World Refugee Year’, which would permit an ‘all out attack on the refugee problem’. WRY began as a British initiative, but it quickly became internationalised when the United Nations sponsored it. The success of WRY depended upon enlisting other non-communist countries in refugee relief, including the task of ‘clearing the camps’ in Germany, Austria and Italy in which thousands of displaced persons had lived since the end of the Second World War rather than face life under communism. WRY was deliberately framed as ‘non-political’ and ‘humanitarian’, but my paper shows how domestic politics and geopolitics were at the heart of the campaign. I locate WRY in the context of British and west European policies and attitudes towards refugees (including refugees in the Middle East and Far East) in the post-1945 period. I consider the extent to which WRY facilitated cooperation between non-governmental and faith-based organisations in Western Europe, and what considerations governed their intervention. I suggest that WRY can be understood in terms of broad social and cultural changes in post-war Europe. I offer some tentative thoughts on the significance of WRY for a divided Europe, at a crucial juncture in East-West relations. Finally, I locate WRY in the broader history of population displacement and humanitarianism during the twentieth century.