Expulsion of Germans after World War II

Expulsion of Germans after World War II

Overview


The later stages of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and the period after the end of that war, saw the forced migration of millions of German nationals (Reichsdeutsche) and ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche - "German in terms of people/folk" -, defined ethnically, is a historical term from the 20th century. The words volk and volkische conveyed in Nazi thinking the meanings of "folk" and "race" while adding the sense of superior civilization and blood...

) from various European states and territories, mostly into the areas which would become post-war Germany and post-war Austria. These areas included pre-war German provinces which were transferred to Poland
People's Republic of Poland
The People's Republic of Poland was the official name of Poland from 1952 to 1990. Although the Soviet Union took control of the country immediately after the liberation from Nazi Germany in 1944, the name of the state was not changed until eight years later...

 and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 after the war, as well as areas which Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 had annexed or occupied in pre-war Poland
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

, Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, northern Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

 and other states of Central
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 and Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

.

The movement of Germans involved a total of at least 12 million people, with some sources putting the figure at 14 million, and was the largest movement or transfer of any population in modern European history.
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Encyclopedia


The later stages of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and the period after the end of that war, saw the forced migration of millions of German nationals (Reichsdeutsche) and ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche - "German in terms of people/folk" -, defined ethnically, is a historical term from the 20th century. The words volk and volkische conveyed in Nazi thinking the meanings of "folk" and "race" while adding the sense of superior civilization and blood...

) from various European states and territories, mostly into the areas which would become post-war Germany and post-war Austria. These areas included pre-war German provinces which were transferred to Poland
People's Republic of Poland
The People's Republic of Poland was the official name of Poland from 1952 to 1990. Although the Soviet Union took control of the country immediately after the liberation from Nazi Germany in 1944, the name of the state was not changed until eight years later...

 and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 after the war, as well as areas which Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 had annexed or occupied in pre-war Poland
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

, Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, northern Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

 and other states of Central
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 and Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

.

The movement of Germans involved a total of at least 12 million people, with some sources putting the figure at 14 million, and was the largest movement or transfer of any population in modern European history. The largest numbers came from the former eastern territories of Germany acquired by Poland and the Soviet Union (about 7 million) and from Czechoslovakia (about 3 million). It was also the largest among all the post-war expulsions
World War II evacuation and expulsion
Forced deportation, mass evacuation and displacement of peoples took place in many of the countries involved in World War II. These were caused both by the direct hostilities between Axis and Allied powers, and the border changes enacted in the pre-war settlement...

 in Central and Eastern Europe, which displaced more than twenty million people in total. The events have been variously described as population transfer
Population transfer
Population transfer is the movement of a large group of people from one region to another by state policy or international authority, most frequently on the basis of ethnicity or religion...

, ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

 or democide
Democide
Democide is a term revived and redefined by the political scientist R. J. Rummel as "the murder of any person or people by a government, including genocide, politicide, and mass murder." Rummel created the term as an extended concept to include forms of government murder that are not covered by the...

. Formerly Nazi Germany planned the deportation of 45 million non-Germanizable people from Eastern Europe
Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost was a secret Nazi German plan for the colonization of Eastern Europe. Implementing it would have necessitated genocide and ethnic cleansing to be undertaken in the Eastern European territories occupied by Germany during World War II...

.

The death toll attributable to the flight and expulsions is disputed, with estimates ranging from 500,000 to 2 million; more recent estimates are close to the lower 500,000 figure.

The policy was part of the geopolitical and ethnic reconfiguration of postwar Europe
Aftermath of World War II
After World War II a new era of tensions emerged based on opposing ideologies, mutual distrust between nations, and a nuclear arms race. This emerged into an environment dominated by a international balance of power that had changed significantly from the status quo before the war...

; in part spoils of war, in part political changes in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 following the war and in part recompense for atrocities and ethnic cleansings that had occurred during the war.

The displacements occurred in three somewhat overlapping phases, the first of which was the spontaneous flight and evacuation of Germans
Flight and evacuation of German civilians during the end of World War II
Plans to evacuate German population from the occupied territories in Central and Eastern Europe and from Eastern Germany were prepared by German authorities at the end of World War II. However, the evacuation in most of the areas was delayed until the last moment, when it was too late to conduct it...

 in the face of the advancing Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

, from mid-1944 to early 1945. The second phase was the disorganized expulsion of Germans immediately following the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

's defeat. The third phase was a more organized expulsion following the Allied leaders' Potsdam Agreement
Potsdam Agreement
The Potsdam Agreement was the Allied plan of tripartite military occupation and reconstruction of Germany—referring to the German Reich with its pre-war 1937 borders including the former eastern territories—and the entire European Theatre of War territory...

, which redefined the Central European borders and approved orderly and humane expulsions of Germans from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Many German civilians were also sent to internment and labor camps. The major expulsions were complete in 1950. Estimates for the total number persons of German ancestry still living in Eastern Europe in 1950 range from 700,000 to 2.7 million.

Background


Before World War II, East-Central Europe
East-Central Europe
East-Central Europe – a term defining the countries located between German-speaking countries and Russia. Those lands are described as situated “between two”: between two worlds, between two stages, between two futures...

 generally lacked clearly shaped ethnic settlement areas. Rather, outside of some ethnic majority areas, there were vast mixed areas and abundant smaller pockets settled by various ethnicities. Within these areas of diversity, including the major cities of Central and Eastern Europe, regular interaction between various ethnic groups had taken place on a daily basis for as long as centuries, while not always harmoniously, on every civic and economic level.

With the rise of nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 in the 19th century, the ethnicity of citizens became an issue in territorial claims, the self-perception/identity of states, and claims of ethnic superiority. The German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 introduced the idea of ethnicity-based settlement in an attempt to ensure its territorial integrity, and was also the first modern European state to propose population transfers as a means of solving "nationality conflicts", intending the removal of Poles and Jews from the projected post–World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 "Polish Border Strip
Polish Border Strip
The Polish Border Strip , also known as the Polish Frontier Strip, refers to those territories which the German Empire wanted to annex from Congress Poland during World War I. It appeared in some plans proposed by German officials as a territory to be ceded by the Kingdom of Poland to the German...

" and its resettlement with Germans.

The Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 resulted in the creation or recreation of multiple nation-states across Central and Eastern Europe. Before World War I, these had been incorporated in the Austrian
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

, Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 and German empires. Although the latter two arose and were named on the basis of their respective ethnic majorities, none of them were ethnically homogeneous.

During the World War II German occupation of Eastern Europe under Nazism, many citizens of German descent registered with the Deutsche Volksliste. Some held important positions in the hierarchy of the Nazi administration, some participated in Nazi atrocities, causing resentment towards German-speakers in general, which would later be used by the Allied politicians
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 as one of the justifications for their expulsion.

Internment and expulsion of Germans occurred during the war in both the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. In the US internment program
German American internment
German American Internment refers to the detention of people of German citizenship in the United States during World War I and World War II.-Civilian internees:...

 a total of 11,507 people of German ancestry were interned during the war (compared to 110,000 interned Japanese-Americans), constituting 36.1% of the total internments in the Department of Justice's Enemy Alien Control Program. Also 4,058 Germans were expelled from several Latin American countries to US internment camps. Mass expulsion from the East and West coasts for reasons of military security were considered by the War Department, but not executed.

The expulsions policy was part of the geopolitical and ethnic reconfiguration of postwar Europe, and in part retribution for Nazi Germany's initiation of the war and subsequent atrocities and ethnic cleansings in Nazi-occupied Europe. The Allied leaders, Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 of the United States, Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 of the United Kingdom and Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 of the USSR, had agreed in general before the end of the war that Poland's territory would be shifted west (though how far was not specified) and the remaining German population expelled, and assured the leaders of the emigre governments of Poland and Czechoslovakia, both occupied by Nazi Germany
History of Poland (1939–1945)
The history of Poland from 1939 to 1945 encompasses the German invasion of Poland as well as the Soviet invasion of Poland through to the end of World War II. On 1 September 1939, without a formal declaration of war, Germany invaded Poland...

, accordingly.

Movements in the later stages of the war



Evacuation and flight to areas within Nazi Germany


Late in the war, as the Red Army advanced westward, many Germans were apprehensive regarding the impending Soviet occupation. Most were aware of the Soviet reprisals against German civilians. Soviet soldiers committed numerous rapes and other crimes. News of atrocities like the Nemmersdorf massacre was in part exaggerated and widely spread by the Nazi propaganda machine.

Plans to evacuate the ethnic German population westwards into Germany proper, from Eastern Europe and the eastern territories of Germany, were prepared by various Nazi authorities towards the end of the war. In most cases, however, implementation was delayed until Soviet and Allied forces had defeated the German forces and advanced into the areas to be evacuated. The responsibility for leaving millions of ethnic Germans in these vulnerable areas until combat conditions overwhelmed them can be attributed directly to the measures taken by the Nazis against anyone even suspected of 'defeatist' attitudes (as evacuation was considered) and the fanaticism of many Nazi functionaries in their execution of Hitler's 'no retreat' orders.

The first mass exodus of German civilians from the eastern territories was composed of both spontaneous flight and organised evacuation, starting in the summer of 1944 and continuing through the early spring of 1945. Conditions turned chaotic during the winter, when miles-long queues of refugees pushed their carts through the snow trying to stay ahead of the advancing Red Army.

Between 6 and 8.35 million Germans fled or were evacuated from the areas east of the Oder-Neisse line
Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

 before the Soviet Army took control of the region. Refugee treks which came within reach of the advancing Soviets suffered high casualties when targeted by low-flying aircraft, and some were rolled over by tanks. Many refugees tried to return home when the fighting ended. Before June 1, 1945, some 400,000 crossed back over the Oder
Oder
The Oder is a river in Central Europe. It rises in the Czech Republic and flows through western Poland, later forming of the border between Poland and Germany, part of the Oder-Neisse line...

 and Neisse
Lusatian Neisse
The Lusatian Neisse is a long river in Central Europe. The river has its source in the Jizera Mountains near Nová Ves nad Nisou, Czech Republic, reaching the tripoint with Poland and Germany at Zittau after , and later forms the Polish-German border on a length of...

 rivers eastward, before Soviet and Polish communist authorities closed the river crossings; another 800,000 entered Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

 from Czechoslovakia.

Evacuation and flight to Denmark


From the Baltic coast, many soldiers and civilians were evacuated by ship in the course of Operation Hannibal
Operation Hannibal
Operation Hannibal was a German military operation involving the evacuation by sea of German troops and civilians from Courland, East Prussia, and the Polish Corridor from mid-January to May, 1945 as the Red Army advanced during the East Prussian and East Pomeranian Offensives and subsidiary...

. Between January 23, 1945 and May 5, 1945, up to 250,000 Germans primarily from East Prussia, Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

, and the Baltic states
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 were evacuated to Nazi-occupied Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, based on an order issued by Hitler on February 4, 1945. Thus, when the war ended, the German refugee population in Denmark amounted to 5% of the total Danish population. The evacuation focused on women, the elderly and children - a third were under the age of fifteen.

After the war, they were interned in several hundreds of camps throughout Denmark, the largest of which was the Oksbøl Refugee Camp
Oksbøl Refugee Camp
The Oksbøl Refugee Camp was the largest camp for German Refugees in Denmark after World War II.- Background :In early 1945 the Red Army started the East Prussian and East Pomeranian Offensives, soon interrupting the overland route to the western areas of Germany...

 with 37,000 inmates. The camps were guarded by Danish military units.

The situation eased after 60 Danish clergy spoke up in defence of the refugees in an open letter, and Social Democrat Johannes Kjærbøl took over the administration of the refugees on September 6, 1945. On May 9, 1945, the Red Army occupied the island of Bornholm
Bornholm
Bornholm is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea located to the east of the rest of Denmark, the south of Sweden, and the north of Poland. The main industries on the island include fishing, arts and crafts like glass making and pottery using locally worked clay, and dairy farming. Tourism is...

; between May 9 and June 1, 1945 the Soviets shipped some 3,000 refugees and 17,000 Wehrmacht soldiers from there to Kolberg.

In 1945, 13,492 German refugees died, among them some 7,000 children under five years of age. According to Danish physician and historian Kirsten Lylloff, these deaths were partially due to denial of medical care by Danish medical staff, both the Danish Association of Doctors and the Danish Red Cross refusing medical treatment of the refugees starting in March 1945.

The last refugees left Denmark on 15 February 1949. In the Treaty of London, signed February 26, 1953, West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 and Denmark agreed on compensation payments of 160 million Danish Crowns, which West Germany paid between 1953 and 1958.

Expulsions following Germany's defeat


The Second World War ended
End of World War II in Europe
The final battles of the European Theatre of World War II as well as the German surrender to the Western Allies and the Soviet Union took place in late April and early May 1945.-Timeline of surrenders and deaths:...

 in Europe with Germany's defeat in May 1945. By this time, all of Eastern and much of Central Europe was under Soviet occupation
Soviet occupations
Soviet occupations is a term used for military occupations by the Soviet Union from the prelude to the aftermath of World War II. The term is typically used for occupations of Eastern European countries...

. This included most of the historical German settlement areas
History of German settlement in Eastern Europe
The presence of German-speaking populations in Central and Eastern Europe is rooted in centuries of history, with the settling in northeastern Europe of Germanic peoples predating even the founding of the Roman Empire...

, as well as the Soviet occupation zone in eastern Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. The Allies settled on the terms of occupation
Allied Occupation Zones in Germany
The Allied powers who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II divided the country west of the Oder-Neisse line into four occupation zones for administrative purposes during 1945–49. In the closing weeks of fighting in Europe, US forces had pushed beyond the previously agreed boundaries for the...

, the territorial truncation of Germany
Territorial changes of Germany
The territorial changes of Germany refer to the changes in the borders and territory of Germany from its formation in 1871 to the present. Modern Germany was formed in 1871 when Otto von Bismarck unified most of the German-speaking states into the German Empire...

, and the expulsion of ethnic Germans from post-war Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary to the Allied Occupation Zones in the Potsdam Agreement, drafted during the Potsdam Conference
Potsdam Conference
The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern, in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from 16 July to 2 August 1945. Participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States...

 between 17 July and 2 August 1945. Article XII of the agreement is concerned with the expulsions and reads:
The Three Governments, having considered the question in all its aspects, recognize that the transfer to Germany of German populations, or elements thereof, remaining in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, will have to be undertaken. They agree that any transfers that take place should be effected in an orderly and humane manner.

The agreement further called for equal distribution of the transferred Germans between American, British, French and Soviet occupation zones comprising post–World War II Germany.

Expulsions that took place before the Allies agreed on the actual terms at Potsdam are referred to as "wild" expulsions . They were conducted by military and civilian authorities in Soviet-occupied post-war Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and Czechoslovakia during the spring and summer of 1945. In Yugoslavia, the fate of the remaining Germans was anything but "humane", ethnic German villages were turned into internment camps where 50,000 perished. The Potsdam Declaration requested that those countries temporarily stop expulsions due to the refugee problems created by the expulsion of Germans before the Potsdam meeting. While expulsions from Czechoslovakia were temporarily slowed down, this was not true for Poland and the former eastern territories of Germany. Sir Geoffrey Harrison, one of the drafters of the cited Potsdam article, stated that the "purpose of this article was not to encourage or legalize the expulsions, but rather to provide a basis for approaching the expelling states and requesting them to co-ordinate transfers with the Occupying Powers in Germany."

After Potsdam, a series of expulsions of ethnic Germans occurred throughout the Soviet-controlled Eastern European countries. Property and materiel in the affected territory that had belonged to Germany or to Germans was confiscated and either transferred to the Soviet Union, nationalised, or redistributed among the citizens. Of the many post-war forced migrations, the largest was the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Central and Eastern Europe, primarily from the territory of 1937 Czechoslovakia (which included the historically German-speaking area in the Sudeten mountains along the German-Czech-Polish border (Sudetenland)), and the territory that became post-war Poland. Poland's post-war borders were shifted west to the Oder-Neisse line, deep into former German territory to within 50 miles of Berlin.

Expulsions and resettlements of other ethnicities took place contemporaneously with the expulsion of the Germans. During and after the war 2,208,000 Poles fled or were expelled from the eastern Polish regions that were annexed by the USSR, 1.652,000 of these refugees were resettled in the former German territories that were awarded to Poland after the war. An additional 249,000 Poles were allowed to leave the USSR from 1955-59 leaving 1,132,000 persons declaring Polish nationality remaining in the USSR in 1959. Poland also expelled to the USSR 518,000 of the 700,000 ethnic Ukrainians and Belarusians living in Poland, resettling the remaining 150,000 to the former German territories during Operation Vistula. Most of the Italians were expelled from post war Yugoslavia In Czechoslovakia, not only were Sudeten Germans
Sudeten Germans
- Importance of Sudeten Germans :Czechoslovakia was inhabited by over 3 million ethnic Germans, comprising about 23 percent of the population of the republic and about 29.5% of Bohemia and Moravia....

 expelled, but also the Hungarian minority in Slovakia during the ocysta.

Czechoslovakia


Before the 1938 German annexation
German occupation of Czechoslovakia
German occupation of Czechoslovakia began with the Nazi annexation of Czechoslovakia's northern and western border regions, known collectively as the Sudetenland, under terms outlined by the Munich Agreement. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's pretext for this effort was the alleged privations suffered by...

 of Czechoslovokia, more than 22.3% of the population in Czechoslovakia had been of German ethnicity. German sources put the May 1939 German population in Czechoslovakia at 3,477,000, as follows. According the German census of 1939, the ethnic German population of the Sudetenland
Sudetenland
Sudetenland is the German name used in English in the first half of the 20th century for the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia being within Czechoslovakia.The...

 was 3,064,000; records of the German occupation regime in Bohemia-Moravia put the German population at 259,000; the estimated German population in Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

 was 154,000. According to German estimates there were 4.5 million German civilians present in Bohemia-Moravia in May 1945, including 100,000 from Slovakia and 1.6 million refugeees from the fighting in Poland.

During the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, especially after the reprisals for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich , also known as The Hangman, was a high-ranking German Nazi official.He was SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei, chief of the Reich Main Security Office and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia...

, most of the Czech resistance groups
Czech resistance to Nazi occupation
Czech resistance to German Nazi occupation during World War II is a scarcely documented subject, by and large a result of little formal resistance and an effective German policy that deterred acts of resistance or annihilated organizations of resistance...

 demanded that the "German problem" be solved by transfer/expulsion. These demands were adopted by the Government-in-Exile, which sought the support of the Allies for this proposal, beginning in 1943. The final agreement for the transfer of the Germans was not reached until the Potsdam Conference.

It is estimated that between 700,000 and 800,000 Germans were affected by "wild" expulsions between May and August 1945. The expulsions were encouraged by Czechoslovak politicians and were generally executed by the order of local authorities, mostly by groups of armed volunteers and the army.

Transfer according to the Potsdam agreements proceeded from January to October 1946. 1.9 million ethnic Germans were expelled to the American zone of what would become West Germany. More than 1 million were expelled to the Soviet zone which later became East Germany. About 250,000 ethnic Germans crucial for industry were allowed to remain in Czechoslovakia. Male Germans with Czech wives were expelled, often with their spouses, while ethnic German women with Czech husbands were allowed to stay. Still, many people with German ancestry were counted as "Czechs" and allowed to stay, for example the second president
Václav Klaus
Václav Klaus is the second President of the Czech Republic and a former Prime Minister .An economist, he is co-founder of the Civic Democratic Party, the Czech Republic's largest center-right political party. Klaus is a eurosceptic, but he reluctantly endorsed the Lisbon treaty as president of...

 and eighth prime minister
Jan Fischer (politician)
Jan Fischer was Prime Minister of the caretaker government of Czech Republic in 2009−2010. A lifelong statistician, he was previously the president of the Czech Statistical Office since April 2003.- Personal life and education :...

 of the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

 or the second president
Rudolf Schuster
Rudolf Schuster was the second President of Slovakia . He was elected on 29 May 1999 and inaugurated on 15 June. Schuster was defeated in the presidential elections of April 2004, in which he ran as an independent...

 of the Slovak Republic having German surnames. After 1948 skilled Sudeten Germans were forced to remain.

The West German government in 1958 estimated the death toll be about 270,000 This figure has been cited in historical literature since then. Recent research by a joint German and Czech commission of historians in 1995 found that the previous demographic estimates of 220,000 to 270,000 deaths to be overstated and based on faulty information, they concluded that the actual death toll was at least 15,000 persons and that it could range up to a maximum of 30,000 dead if one assumes that some deaths were not reported. The German Church Search Service was able to confirm the deaths of 14,215 persons during the expulsions from Czechoslovakia. (6,316 violent deaths, 6,989 in internment camps and 907 in the USSR as forced laborers.

Hungary


In contrast to the expulsions from other states, the expulsion of the Germans from Hungary was dictated from outside the nation, and began on 22 December 1944 when the Soviet Commander-in-Chief ordered the expulsions. Three percent of the German pre-war population (about 20,000 people) had been evacuated by the Volksbund before that. They went to Austria, but many of them returned home in the spring. Overall, some 60,000 ethnic Germans had fled. According to the West German Schieder commission
Schieder commission
Documents on the Expulsion of the Germans from Eastern-Central Europe is the abridged English translation of a multi-volume publication that was created by a commission of West German historians between 1951 and 1961...

 report of 1956, in the spring of 1945, between 30-35,000 ethnic German civilians and 30,000 military POW were arrested and transported from Hungary to the Soviet Union as forced laborers. In some villages, the entire adult population were taken to labor camps in the Donets Basin
Donets Basin
Donbas or Donbass , full rarely-used name Donets Basin , is a historical, economic and cultural region of eastern Ukraine. Originally a coal mining area, it has become a heavily industrialised territory suffering from urban decay and industrial pollution.-Geography:Donbas covers three...

. 6,000 died there as a result of hardships and ill-treatment. Data from the Russian archives which was based on an actual enumeration, put the number of ethnic Germans registered by the Soviets in Hungary at 50,292 civilians of whom 31,920 were deported to the USSR for reparations labor and that 9% (2,819) died Balázs Apor has put the overall figure at between 100,000 and 170,000 Hungarian ethnic Germans as being transported to the Soviet Union.

In 1945, official Hungarian figures showed 477,000 German speakers in Hungary, including a remarkable number of Jews of German mother tongue, 303,000 of whom had declared German nationality. Of the German nationals, 33% were children younger than 12 or elderly people over 60; another 51% were women.

On 29 December 1945, the communist Hungarian Government ordered the expulsion of everyone who had declared himself a German in the 1941 census, or had been a member of the Volksbund, the SS, or any other armed German organisation. Accordingly, mass expulsions began. The rural population was affected more than the urban population or those ethnic Germans with needed skills, such as miners. Germans married to Hungarians were not expelled, regardless of sex. The first 5,788 expellees left from Budaörs
Budaörs
Budaörs is a city in Pest county, Budapest metropolitan area, Hungary. The town has a large German-speaking minority who call it Wudersch...

 (Wudersch) on January 19, 1946. About 180,000 German-speaking Hungarian citizens were deprived of their citizenship and all possessions, and expelled to the Western zones of Germany. Up to July 1948, a further 35,000 people were expelled to the Eastern zone of Germany. Most of the expellees found new homes in the Southwest German province of Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg is one of the 16 states of Germany. Baden-Württemberg is in the southwestern part of the country to the east of the Upper Rhine, and is the third largest in both area and population of Germany's sixteen states, with an area of and 10.7 million inhabitants...

, but many also in Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

 and Hesse
Hesse
Hesse or Hessia is both a cultural region of Germany and the name of an individual German state.* The cultural region of Hesse includes both the State of Hesse and the area known as Rhenish Hesse in the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state...

. Other research indicates that, between 1945 and 1950, 150,000 were expelled to western Germany, 103,000 to Austria, and none to eastern Germany. During the expulsions, numerous organized protest demonstrations by the Hungarian population took place.

Acquisition of land for distribution to Hungarian refugees and nationals was one of the main reasons for the expulsion of the ethnic Germans from Hungary, and the botched organisation of the redistribution led to social tensions.

By the end of the expulsions, an estimated 200,000 Germans remained in Hungary, (Overy states 270,000), but only 22,445 declared themselves German in the 1949 census. An order of 15 June 1948 halted the expulsions, and a governmental decree of 25 March 1950 declared all expulsion orders void, allowing the expellees to return if they so wished. After the fall of Communism, German victims of expulsion and Soviet forced labour were rehabilitated. Post-Communist laws allowed expellees to be compensated, to return and to buy property. There are no tensions in Hungarian-German relations
Germany–Hungary relations
Germany–Hungary relations are the relations between Germany and Hungary, two member states of the European Union and NATO. Both countries have a long shared history. Germany has an embassy in Budapest...

 regarding the expellee issue.

In 1958 the West German government estimated based on a demographic analysis that by 1950 that 270,000 Germans remained in Hungary, 60,000 had been assimilated into the Hungarian population and that there were 57,000 "unresolved cases" that remained to be clarified The figure 57,000"unresolved cases" in Hungary is included in the total German expulsion dead of 2 million which is often cited in historical literature.

The Netherlands


After World War II, the Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 government decided to expel the 25,000 Germans living in the Netherlands. The Germans, even though they often had Dutch spouses and children, were called 'hostile subjects' (Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

: vijandelijke onderdanen
). The operation began on 10 September 1946 in Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, when ethnic Germans and their families were arrested at their homes in the middle of the night and given one hour to pack 50 kg of luggage. They were allowed to take just 100 Guilders with them. The remainder of their possessions were seized by the state. They were taken to internment camps near the German border, the largest of which was Mariënbosch near Nijmegen. In all, about 3,691 Germans (less than 15 percent of the 25,000 total number of Germans in the Netherlands) were expelled.

The Allied forces occupying the Western zone of Germany opposed this operation, fearing that other nations might follow suit. The Western zone was not in an economic condition to receive large numbers of expellees at that time. British troops retaliated by evicting 100,000 ethnic Dutch citizens in Germany to the Netherlands.

The operation ceased in 1948. On 26 July 1951, the state of war between the Netherlands and Germany officially ended, and the ethnic Germans were no longer regarded as state enemies.

Poland, including former German territories


Throughout 1944 until May 1945, as the Red Army advanced through Eastern Europe and the provinces of eastern Germany some German civilians were killed in the fighting and others were subjected to revenge exacted on ethnic Germans and German nationals. The German Federal Archives
German Federal Archives
The German Federal Archives or Bundesarchiv are the National Archives of Germany. They were established at the current location in Koblenz in 1952....

 estimated that overall about 1% (100,000) of the German civilian population east of Oder-Neisse perished prior to the surrender in May 1945. While many had already fled ahead of the advancing Soviet Army, frightened by rumors of Soviet atrocities which in some cases were exaggerated and exploited by Nazi Germany's propaganda, millions still remained The Polish historians Witold Sienkiewicz and Grzegorz Hryciuk maintain that civilian deaths in the flight and evacuation were between 600,000 and 1.2 million. The main causes of death were cold, stress, and bombing A recent study by the Polish Academy of Sciences
Polish Academy of Sciences
The Polish Academy of Sciences, headquartered in Warsaw, is one of two Polish institutions having the nature of an academy of sciences.-History:...

 estimated that during the final months of the war 4 to 5 million German civilians fled with the retreating German forces, and in mid 1945 4.5 to 4.6 million Germans remained on the territories under Polish control. By 1950 3,155,000 had been transported to Germany, 1,043,550 were naturalized as Polish citizens and 170,000 Germans still remained in Poland. According to the West German Schieder commission
Schieder commission
Documents on the Expulsion of the Germans from Eastern-Central Europe is the abridged English translation of a multi-volume publication that was created by a commission of West German historians between 1951 and 1961...

 of 1953 5,650,000 Germans remained in Poland in mid 1945, 3,500,000 had been expelled and 910,000 remained in Poland by 1950. According to the West German Schieder commission
Schieder commission
Documents on the Expulsion of the Germans from Eastern-Central Europe is the abridged English translation of a multi-volume publication that was created by a commission of West German historians between 1951 and 1961...

 of 1953 the civilian death toll was 2 million. However in 1974 the German Federal Archives
German Federal Archives
The German Federal Archives or Bundesarchiv are the National Archives of Germany. They were established at the current location in Koblenz in 1952....

 estimated the death toll at about 400,000. (The controversy regarding the casualty figures is covered below in the section on casualties)

The Polish courier Jan Karski
Jan Karski
Jan Karski was a Polish World War II resistance movement fighter and later scholar at Georgetown University. In 1942 and 1943 Karski reported to the Polish government in exile and the Western Allies on the situation in German-occupied Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and...

 warned US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1943 of the possibility of Polish reprisals, describing them as "unavoidable" and "an encouragement for all the Germans in Poland to go west, to Germany proper, where they belong" During the 1945 military campaign most of the male German population remaining east of the Oder-Neisse were considered potential combatants and held by Soviet military in detention camps subjected to verification by the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

. Members of Nazi party organizations and government officials were segregated and sent to the USSR as reparations forced labor.


During the 1945 military campaign in Poland the Soviet Union interned suspected Nazi party members and government officials in camps in the Soviet-occupied areas east of the Oder-Neisse line
Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

. Persons held in these short-lived camps east of the line were subsequently transferred to NKVD special camps
NKVD special camps
NKVD special camps were NKVD-run late and post-World War II internment camps in the Soviet-occupied parts of Germany and areas east of the Oder-Neisse line. The short-lived camps east of the line were subsequently transferred to the Soviet occupation zone, where they were set up by the Soviet...

 in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany or for the Soviet Union for forced labor
Forced labor of Germans in the Soviet Union
Forced labor of Germans in the Soviet Union was considered by the Soviet Union to be part of German war reparations for the damage inflicted by Nazi Germany on the Soviet Union during World War II. German civilians in Eastern Europe were deported to the USSR after World War II as forced laborers...

 In mid 1945, the eastern territories of pre-war Germany were turned over to the Soviet-controlled Polish military forces
First Polish Army (1944-1945)
The Polish First Army was a Polish Army unit formed in the Soviet Union in 1944, from the previously existing Polish I Corps as part of the People's Army of Poland . The First Army fought westward, subordinated to the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front, during the offensive against Germany that led to...

. Early expulsions were undertaken by the Polish communist military authorities even before the Potsdam Conference placed them under temporary Polish administration pending the final Peace Treaty, to ensure their later integration into an ethnically homogeneous Poland as envisioned by the Polish communists: "We must expel all the Germans because countries are built on national lines and not on multinational ones". Germans were defined as either Reichsdeutsche, people enlisted in first or second Volksliste groups, or those who held German citizenship. About 1.1 million German citizens of Slavic descent were "verified" as "autochthonous" Poles. Of these, most were not expelled; 894,000chose to emigrate to Germany from 1951 to 1982, including most of the Masurians of East Prussia.


At the Potsdam Conference (17 July - 2 August 1945) the territory to the east of the Oder-Neisse line was assigned to Polish and Soviet Union administration pending the Final Peace Treaty. All Germans had their property confiscated and were placed under restrictive jurisdiction. The Silesian voivode
Silesian Voivodeship
Silesian Voivodeship, or Silesia Province , is a voivodeship, or province, in southern Poland, centering on the historic region known as Upper Silesia...

 Aleksander Zawadzki
Aleksander Zawadzki
Aleksander Zawadzki was a Polish Communist political figure and head of state of Poland from 1952 to 1964.A member of the Communist Youth Union, Zawadzki went into exile in the Soviet Union in 1931, after spending six years in prison for "subversive activities." He returned to Poland in 1939, just...

 in part expropriated the property of the German Silesians already on 26 January 1945, another decree of 2 March expropriated that of all Germans east of the Oder and Neisse, and a subsequent decree of 6 May declared all "abandoned" property as belonging to the Polish state. Additionally, Germans were not permitted to own Polish currency, the only legal currency since July, other than earnings from work assigned to them. The remaining population was de facto deprived of all civil rights, and faced theft and looting and also in some instances rape and murder by the Polish militia, in addition to similar acts by criminal gangs that were neither prevented nor prosecuted by the Polish militia and judiciary.

In mid 1945 4.5 to 4.6 million Germans were on Polish territory, by the beginning of 1946 550,000 Germans had already been expelled from Poland and 932,000 had been verified as having Polish nationality. In the February 1946 census 2,288,000 persons were classified as Germans and subject to expulsion and 417,400 were subject verification action, aiming at the establishment of nationality. The negatively verified persons, who did not succeed in demonstrating their "Polish nationality", were directed for resettlement. Those persons who had collaborated with the Nazi occupiers, were considered "traitors of the nation" and sentenced to forced labor prior to being expelled. By 1950 3,155,000 German civilians had been expelled and 1,043,550 were natuaralized as Polish citizens. 170,000 Germans considered "indispensable" for the Polish economy were retained until the early 1950s, though virtually all had left by 1960. Some 200,000 Germans in Poland were employed as forced labor in communist-administered camps prior to being expelled from Poland These included Central Labour Camp Jaworzno
Central Labour Camp Jaworzno
Central Labour Camp Jaworzno was a concentration camp in Jaworzno, Poland. It operated from 1943 until 1956, first run by Nazi Germany and then by the Soviet Union with the People's Republic of Poland...

, Central Labour Camp Potulice
Central Labour Camp Potulice
Central Labour Camp Potulice was a detention centre for Germans and anti-communist Poles established by Polish Communist authorities after the end of World War II in Potulice, in place of the former German Nazi Potulice concentration camp. The camp was in operation since 1945 until 1950.A total of...

, Łambinowice and Zgoda labour camp
Zgoda labour camp
The Zgoda labour camp was a concentration camp for Germans, Silesians and Poles, set up in 1945 by the Soviet NKVD in Świętochłowice, Silesia. It was controlled by the communist secret police until its closure by the Stalinist authorities of Poland in November of the same year.Between 1943 and...

. Besides these large camps, numerous other forced labor, punitive and internment camps, urban ghettos and detention centres, sometimes consisting only of a small cellar, were set up. The German Federal Archives
German Federal Archives
The German Federal Archives or Bundesarchiv are the National Archives of Germany. They were established at the current location in Koblenz in 1952....

 estimated in 1974 that more than 200,000 German civilians were interned in Polish camps, they put the death rate at 20-50% and estimated that more than likely over 60,000 persons perished. The Polish historians Witold Sienkiewicz and Grzegorz Hryciuk maintain that the internment "resulted in numerous deaths, which cannot be accurately determined because of lack of statistics or falsification . Periodically, they could be 10% of inmates. Those interned are estimated at 200-250,000 Germans and the local population, and deaths might range from 15,000 to 60,000 persons." Since the collapse of the communist system in Poland the former camp commaders Salomon Morel
Salomon Morel
Salomon Morel was a Polish Communist official and an accused war criminal. After the end of World War II, he became the commander of the infamous Zgoda labour camp...

 and Czesław Gęborski have been charged by Polish authorities for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Federal Statistical Office of Germany
Federal Statistical Office of Germany
The Federal Statistical Office of Germany is a federal authority of Germany. It is a part of the Federal Ministry of the Interior of the Federal Republic of Germany....

 estimated that in mid 1945 250,000 Germans remained in the former northern East Prussia which became the Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia situated on the Baltic coast. It has a population of The oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since its creation it has been an exclave of the Russian SFSR and then the...

. They also estimated that more than 100,000 persons surviving the Soviet occupation were evacuated to Germany beginning in 1947.

German civilians were also held as "reperations labor" by the USSR. Data from the Russian archives published in 2001, based on an actual enumeration, put the number of German civilians deported from Poland to the USSR in early 1945 for reparations labor at 155,262 where 37% (57,586) died. However, the West German Red Cross estimated in 1964 that 233,000 German civilians were deported to the USSR from Poland as forced laborers where 45% (105,000) were dead or missing. The West German Red Cross also estimated 110,000 German civilians were held as forced labor in Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia situated on the Baltic coast. It has a population of The oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since its creation it has been an exclave of the Russian SFSR and then the...

 where 50,000 were dead or missing. The Soviets also deported from Poland 7,448 Poles of the Armia Krajowa
Armia Krajowa
The Armia Krajowa , or Home Army, was the dominant Polish resistance movement in World War II German-occupied Poland. It was formed in February 1942 from the Związek Walki Zbrojnej . Over the next two years, it absorbed most other Polish underground forces...

, Soviet records indicated 506 of the Poles died in captivity. Tomasz Kamusella
Tomasz Kamusella
Tomasz Kamusella is a European scholar pursuing interdisciplinary research in language politics, nationalism and ethnicity.-Education:...

 maintains that in early 1945 165,000 Germans were transported to the Soviet Union. According to Gerhardt Reichling, 520,000 German civilians from the Oder-Neisse region were conscripted for forced labor by both the USSR and Poland, he maintains that 206,000 perished.


The attitude of the surviving Polish civilians, many of whom had experienced brutalities and atrocities
Nazi crimes against ethnic Poles
In addition to about 2.9 million Polish Jews , about 2.8 million non-Jewish Polish citizens perished during the course of the war...

 only surpassed by the German policies against Jews of all nationalities during the Nazi occupation, combined with the fact that the Germans had recently expelled more than a million Poles from territories they annexed during the war, was ambiguous. Some engaged in looting and various crimes, including murders, beatings and rapes, against Germans. On the other hand, in many instances Poles, including some who had been made slave labourers by the Germans during the war, protected Germans, for instance by disguising them as Poles. Moreover, in the Opole
Opole
Opole is a city in southern Poland on the Oder River . It has a population of 125,992 and is the capital of the Upper Silesia, Opole Voivodeship and, also the seat of Opole County...

 (Oppeln) region of Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia is the southeastern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia. Since the 9th century, Upper Silesia has been part of Greater Moravia, the Duchy of Bohemia, the Piast Kingdom of Poland, again of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as of...

, citizens who claimed Polish ethnicity were allowed to remain. In fact, some (though not all) had uncertain nationality or actually considered themselves to be Germans. Their status as a national minority was accepted in 1955, along with state subsidies, with regard to economic assistance and education. The attitude of Soviet soldiers was also ambiguous. Many committed atrocities, most notably rape and murder, and did not always distinguish between Poles and Germans, mistreating them equally. Yet some other Soviets were taken aback by the brutal treatment of the German civilians and tried to protect them.

Richard Overy
Richard Overy
Richard Overy is a British historian who has published extensively on the history of World War II and the Third Reich. In 2007 as The Times editor of Complete History of the World he chose the 50 key dates of world history....

 cites an approximate total 7. 5 million evacuated, migrated, or expelled Germans from Poland between 1944 and 1950

Tomasz Kamusella
Tomasz Kamusella
Tomasz Kamusella is a European scholar pursuing interdisciplinary research in language politics, nationalism and ethnicity.-Education:...

 cites estimates of 7 million expelled during both the "wild" and "legal" expulsions from the recovered territories from 1945 to 1948, plus an additional 700,000 from areas of pre-war Poland.

Romania


The ethnic German population of Romania in 1939 was estimated at 786,000 In 1940 Bessarabia
Bessarabia
Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

 and Bukovina
Bukovina
Bukovina is a historical region on the northern slopes of the northeastern Carpathian Mountains and the adjoining plains.-Name:The name Bukovina came into official use in 1775 with the region's annexation from the Principality of Moldavia to the possessions of the Habsburg Monarchy, which became...

 were occupied by the U.S.S.R. and the ethnic German population of 200,000 was deported to German held territory during the Nazi–Soviet population transfers. Included with those deported to German held territory were 140,000 persons who were resettled in German occupied Poland, in 1945 they were caught up in the flight and expulsion from Poland. Most of the ethnic Germans in Romania resided in Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

 which was annexed by
Hungary during World War II. The pro-German Hungarian government
Hungary during World War II
Hungary during World War II was a member of the Axis powers. In the 1930s, the Kingdom of Hungary relied on increased trade with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to pull itself out of the Great Depression. By 1938, Hungarian politics and foreign policy had become increasingly pro-Fascist Italian and...

 allowed Germany to enlist the German population in Nazi sponsored organizations. During the war 54,000 of the male population was conscripted by Nazi Germany, many into the Waffen SS In the summer of 1944 roughly 100,000 Germans fled from Romania with the retreating German forces. According to the West German Schieder commission
Schieder commission
Documents on the Expulsion of the Germans from Eastern-Central Europe is the abridged English translation of a multi-volume publication that was created by a commission of West German historians between 1951 and 1961...

 report of 1957, 75,000 German civilians were deported to the USSR as forced labor and that 15%(10,000) did not return. Data from the Russian archives which was based on an actual enumeration, put the number of ethnic Germans registered by the Soviets in Romania at 421,846 civilians of whom 67,332 were deported to the USSR for reparations labor and that 9% (6,260) died
The roughly 400,000 ethnic Germans who remained in Romania were treated as guilty of collaboration with Nazi Germany and were deprived of their civil liberties and property, many were impressed into forced labor and deported from their homes to other regions of Romania. In 1948 Romania began a gradual rehabilitation of the ethnic Germans, they were not expelled and the communist regime gave them status of a national minority, the only country east bloc to do so.
In 1958 the West German government estimated based on a demographic analysis that by 1950; 253,000 were counted as expellees in Germany or the west; 400,000 Germans still remained in Romania; 32,000 had been assimilated into the Romanian population; and that there were 101,000 "unresolved cases" that remained to be clarified The figure 101,000"unresolved cases" in Romania is included in the total German expulsion dead of 2 million which is often cited in historical literature. In Romania there were still 355,000 Germans in 1977. During the 1980s many started to leave the country, with over 160,000 leaving in 1989 alone. By 2002, the number of ethnic Germans was 60,000 citizens.

Soviet Union and annexed territories


The Baltic, Bessarabian and ethnic Germans in areas that became Soviet-controlled following the partition of eastern Europe by Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 and Joseph Stalin in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

 of 1939 were resettled to the Third Reich, including annexed areas like Warthegau, during the Nazi-Soviet population exchange. Only a few returned to their former homes when Germany invaded the Soviet Union
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 and temporarily gained control of those areas. These returnees were employed by the Nazi occupation forces to establish a link between the German administration and the local population. Those resettled elsewhere shared the fate of the other Germans in their resettlement area.

The ethnic German minority in the USSR
History of Germans in Russia and the Soviet Union
The German minority in Russia and the Soviet Union was created from several sources and in several waves. The 1914 census puts the number of Germans living in Russian Empire at 2,416,290. In 1989, the German population of the Soviet Union was roughly 2 million. In the 2002 Russian census, 597,212...

 was considered a security risk by the Soviet government and were deported during the war in order to prevent their possible collaboration with the Nazi invaders. In August 1941 the Soviet government ordered ethnic Germans to be deported from the European USSR. By 1942 about 1 million Germans had been banished to special settlements in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

."Life in the special settlements was harsh and severe. Food was limited and the deported population was governed by strict regulations" Soviet Germans were not accepted in the regular armed forces but were employed instead as conscript labor, 316,600 Soviet Germans served as labor conscripts during World War II. The labor army members were arranged into worker battalions that followed camp-like regulations and received the GULAG rations During the Stalin era the Soviet Germans continued to be confined to the special settlements under strict supervision, in 1955 they were rehabilitated but were not allowed to return to the European USSR The Soviet German population grew despite the deportations and forced labor during the war; in the 1939 Soviet census the German population was 1.427 million by 1959 it had increased to 1.619 million

The calculations of the West German researcher Dr. Gerhard Reichling indicate a total of 980,000 Soviet ethnic Germans were deported in the Stalin era, he estimated 310,000 died in forced labor. During the early months of the invasion of the USSR in 1941 the Germans occupied the western regions of the USSR that had German settlements. A total of 370,000 ethnic Germans from the USSR were deported to Poland by Germany during the war. In 1945 the Soviets found 280,000 of these resettlers in Soviet held territory and returned them to the USSR; 90,000 became refugees in Germany after the war.

Those ethnic Germans who remained in Soviet-controlled territory despite the Nazi-Soviet population transfers
Nazi-Soviet population transfers
The Nazi–Soviet population transfers were a series of population transfers between 1939 and 1941 of tens of thousands of ethnic Germans and ethnic Russians in an agreement according to the German–Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Demarcation between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.-...

, and whose settlement areas had become German-controlled before the Soviet authorities could resettle them, remained where they were until 1943, when the Red Army liberated Soviet territory and the Wehrmacht withdrew westward. From January 1943, most of these ethnic Germans moved in treks to the Warthegau or to Silesia, where they were to settle. Between 250,000 and 320,000 had reached Nazi Germany by the end of 1944. On their arrival, they were placed in camps and underwent 'racial evaluation' by the Nazi authorities, who dispersed those deemed 'racially valuable' as farm workers in the annexed provinces
Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany
At the beginning of World War II, nearly a quarter of the pre-war Polish areas were annexed by Nazi Germany and placed directly under German civil administration, while the rest of Nazi occupied Poland was named as General Government...

, while those deemed to be of "questionable racial value" were sent to work in Germany The Red Army captured these areas in early 1945, and 200,000 Soviet Germans had not yet been evacuated by the Nazi authorities, who were still occupied with their 'racial evaluation'. They were regarded by the USSR as Soviet citizens and repatriated to camps and special settlements in the Soviet Union. Some 70,000 to 80,000 who found themselves in the Soviet occupation zone after the war were also returned to the USSR, based on an agreement with the Western Allies. The death toll during their capture and transportation was estimated at 15% to 30%, and many families were torn apart. The special "German settlements" in the post-war Soviet Union were controlled by the Internal Affairs Commissioner, and the inhabitants had to perform forced labour until the end of 1955. At this time, all of the 1.5 million ethnic Germans in the Soviet Union were in banished to special settlements in Central Asia and Siberia. They were released after Stalin's death by an amnesty decree of 13 September 1955 and the Nazi collaboration charge was revoked by a decree of 23 August 1964, they were not allowed to return to their former homes and remained in the eastern regions of the USSR, yet no individual's former property was restored. Since the 1980s the Soviet and Russian governments have allowed ethnic Germans to emigrate to Germany.
Different situations emerged in northern East Prussia regarding Königsberg
Königsberg
Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

 (renamed Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad is a seaport and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea...

) and the adjacent Memel territory around Memel (Klaipėda
Klaipeda
Klaipėda is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Nemunas River where it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County....

). The Königsberg area of East Prussia was annexed by the Soviet Union, becoming an exclave of the Russian Soviet Republic. Memel was integrated into the Lithuanian Soviet Republic. Many Germans were evacuated from East Prussia and the Memel territory by Nazi authorities during Operation Hannibal or fled in panic as the Red Army approached. At the war's end, most surviving Germans were soon expelled. Ethnic Russians and the families of military staff were settled in the area. In June 1946, 114,070 Germans and 41,029 Soviet citizens were registered as living in the Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia situated on the Baltic coast. It has a population of The oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since its creation it has been an exclave of the Russian SFSR and then the...

, with an unknown number of unregistered Germans ignored. However, between June 1945 and 1947, roughly half a million Germans were expelled. Between 24 August and 26 October 1948, 21 transports with a total of 42,094 Germans left the Kaliningrad Oblast for the Soviet Occupation Zone. The last remaining Germans were expelled between November 1949 (1,401 persons) and January 1950 (7 persons). Thousands of German children, called the wolf children
Wolf children
Wolf children was the name given to a group of orphaned German children at the end of World War II in East Prussia.When the Red Army conquered East Prussia in 1945, thousands of German children were left on their own, because their parents had been killed during bombing raids or during harsh...

, had been left orphaned and unattended or died with their parents during the harsh winter without food. Between 1945 and 1947, some 600,000 Soviet citizens settled the oblast.

Yugoslavia


Before World War II, roughly 500,000 German-speaking people (mostly Danube Swabians
Danube Swabians
The Danube Swabians is a collective term for the German-speaking population who lived in the former Kingdom of Hungary, especially alongside the Danube River valley. Because of different developments within the territory settled, the Danube Swabians cannot be seen as a unified people...

) lived in Yugoslavia. Most fled during the war or emigrated after 1950, thanks to the "displaced persons" act (of 1948), some were also able to emigrate to the USA. During the final months of World War II at least 200,000 ethnic Germans fled from Yugoslavia with the retreating Nazi forces. After the liberation Yugoslav partisans exacted revenge on ethnic Germans for the wartime atrocities of Nazi Germany, the 200,000 ethnic Germans remaining in Yugoslavia suffered persecution and sustained personal and economic losses. About 7,000 were killed as local populations and partisans took revenge for German wartime atrocities, from 1945 to 1948 ethnic Germans were held in labor camps where about 50,000 perished. Those surviving were allowed to emigrate to Germany after 1948

According to West German figures in late 1944 the Soviets transported 27,000 to 30,000 ethnic Germans, a majority of whom were women aged 18 to 35, to the Ukraine and Donets basin
Donets Basin
Donbas or Donbass , full rarely-used name Donets Basin , is a historical, economic and cultural region of eastern Ukraine. Originally a coal mining area, it has become a heavily industrialised territory suffering from urban decay and industrial pollution.-Geography:Donbas covers three...

 for forced labour; about 20% (5,683) were reported dead or missing. Data from the Russian archives published in 2001, based on an actual enumeration, put the number of German civilians deported from Yugoslavia to the USSR in early 1945 for reparations labor at 12,579 where 16% (1,994) died. After March 1945 a second phase began in which ethnic Germans were massed into villages such as Gakowa and Krushiwilje converted into labor camps. All furniture was removed, straw placed on the floor and the expellees housed like animals under military guard, with minimal food and rampant, untreated disease. Families were divided into the unfit women, old, and children and those fit for slave labor. A total of 166,970 ethnic Germans were interned and (29%)48,447 perished The camp system was shut down in March, 1948.

In Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

, the German population at the end of World War II was concentrated in Slovenian Styria, more precisely in Maribor
Maribor
Maribor is the second largest city in Slovenia with 157,947 inhabitants . Maribor is also the largest and the capital city of Slovenian region Lower Styria and the seat of the Municipality of Maribor....

, Celje
Celje
Celje is a typical Central European town and the third largest town in Slovenia. It is a regional center of Lower Styria and the administrative seat of the Urban Municipality of Celje . The town of Celje is located under Upper Celje Castle at the confluence of the Savinja, Ložnica, and Voglajna...

, and a few other smaller towns (like Ptuj
Ptuj
Ptuj is a city and one of 11 urban municipalities in Slovenia. Traditionally the area was part of the Lower Styria region. The municipality is now included in the Podravje statistical region...

 and Dravograd
Dravograd
Dravograd is a small town and a municipality in northern Slovenia, close to the border with Austria. It lies on the Drava River at the confluence with the Meža and the Mislinja. It is part of the traditional Slovenian province of Carinthia)....

), and in the rural area around Apače
Apace
Apače is small town and a municipality in Slovenia. It lies in the traditional region of Styria in northeastern Slovenia and belongs to the Mura statistical region. The municipality borders on the municipalities of Šentilj, Sveta Ana, and Gornja Radgona. The Mura River represents the border...

 on the Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

n border. The second largest ethnic German community in Slovenia was the predominantly rural Gottschee County
Gottschee County
Gottschee County refers to the former German speaking region in the Duchy of Carniola , a crownland of the Habsburg Empire, located in modern day Slovenia...

 around Kočevje
Kocevje
Kočevje is a city and a municipality in southern Slovenia. In terms of area it is the largest municipality in Slovenia. It is located between the rivers Krka and Kolpa and is part of the traditional region of Lower Carniola. It is now included in the Jugovzhodna Slovenija statistical region...

 in Lower Carniola
Lower Carniola
Lower Carniola was a kreis of the historical Habsburg crown land of Carniola from 1849 till 1919 and is nowadays a traditional region of Slovenia. Its center is Novo Mesto, while other urban centers include Kočevje, Grosuplje, Krško, Trebnje, Mirna, Črnomelj, Semič, and Metlika.-See also:* Upper...

, south of Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and its largest city. It is the centre of the City Municipality of Ljubljana. It is located in the centre of the country in the Ljubljana Basin, and is a mid-sized city of some 270,000 inhabitants...

. Smaller numbers of ethnic Germans also lived in Ljubljana and in some western villages in the Prekmurje
Prekmurje
Prekmurje is a geographically, linguistically, culturally and ethnically defined region settled by Slovenes and lying between the Mur River in Slovenia and the Rába Valley in the most western part of Hungary...

 region. In 1931, the total number of ethnic Germans in Slovenia was around 28,000: around half of them lived in Styria and in Prekmurje, while the other half lived in the Gottechee County and in Ljubljana. In April 1941, southern Slovenia was occupied by Italian troops. By the spring 1942, the ethnic Germans from Gottschee/Kočevje were forcefully transferred to German-occupied Styria by the new German authorities. Most of them were resettled to the Posavje
Posavje
The Lower Sava Valley is a region in southeastern Slovenia on the border with Croatia. It has three major urban centers: Brežice, Krško, and Sevnica. Its borders are almost identical with those of the Lower Sava statistical region....

 region (a territory along the Sava
Sava River
The Sava is a river in Southeast Europe, a right side tributary of the Danube river at Belgrade. Counting from Zelenci, the source of Sava Dolinka, it is long and drains of surface area. It flows through Slovenia, Croatia, along the northern border of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and through Serbia....

 river between the towns of Brežice
Brežice
Brežice is a city and municipality in eastern Slovenia in the Lower Sava Valley, near the Croatian border. The area was traditionally divided between Lower Styria and Lower Carniola...

 and Litija
Litija
Litija is a town and a municipality in central Slovenia. It is located in the valley of the river Sava, to the east of the capital Ljubljana. Traditionally, the area was situated on the border between the historical provinces of Carniola and Styria. Most of the municipality belonged to the...

), from where around 50,000 Slovenes had been expelled. Gottschee Germans were generally unhappy about their forced transfer from their historical home region. One reason was that the agricultural value of their new area of settlement was perceived as much lower than the Gottschee area. As German forces retreated before the Yugoslav Partisans, most ethnic Germans fled with them in fear of reprisals. By May 1945, only few Germans remained, mostly in the Styrian towns of Maribor and Celje. The Liberation Front of the Slovenian People
Liberation Front of the Slovenian People
On 26 April 1941 in Ljubljana the Anti-Imperialist Front was established. It was to promote "an international massive movement" to "liberate the Slovenian nation" whose "hope and example was the Soviet Union"...

 expelled most of the remainder after it seized complete control in the region in May 1945. Many were imprisoned in the concentration camps of Sterntal
Strnišče, Kidričevo
Strnišče is a small settlement to the south of Kidričevo in northeastern Slovenia. It is the western part of the eponymoys settlement that became Kidričevo after the Second World War. The area is part of the traditional region of Lower Styria. It is now included with the rest of the Kidričevo...

 and Teharje
Teharje
Teharje is a settlement in the municipality of Celje in eastern Slovenia. It lies on the right bank of the Voglajna River on the eastern outskirts of Celje. The area was traditionally part of the Lower Styria region...

.

The government nationalized their property on a "decision on the transition of enemy property into state ownership, on state administration over the property of absent persons, and on sequestration of property forcibly appropriated by occupation authorities" of 21 November 1944 by the Presidency of the Anti-Fascist Council for the People's Liberation of Yugoslavia
AVNOJ
The Anti-Fascist Council of the People's Liberation of Yugoslavia, known more commonly by its Yugoslav abbreviation AVNOJ, was the political umbrella organization for the national liberation councils of the Yugoslav resistance against the World War II Axis occupation, eventually becoming the...



After March 1945, ethnic Germans were placed in so-called 'village camps'. Separate camps existed for those able to work and for those who were not. In the latter camps, containing mainly children and the elderly, the mortality rate was about 50%. Most of the children under 14 were then placed in state-run homes, where conditions were better, though the German language was banned. These children were later given to Yugoslav families, and not all German parents seeking to reclaim their children in the 1950s were successful

West German government figures from 1958 put the death toll at 135,800 civilians. However a recent study published by the ethnic Germans of Yugoslavia based on an actual enumeration has revised the death toll down to about 58,000. A total of 48,447 people had died in the camps; 7,199 were shot by partisans, and another 1,994 perished in Soviet labor camps. Those Germans still considered Yugoslav citizens were employed in industry or the military, but could buy themselves free of Yugoslav citizenship for the equivalent of three months' salary. By 1950, 150,000 of these had made their way to post-war Germany, another 150,000 to Austria, 10,000 to the USA, and 3,000 to France

According to West German figures 82,000 ethnic Germans remained in Yugoslavia in 1950. After 1950 most emigrated to Germany or have been assimilated into the local population.

Kehl


The population of the Southwest German town of Kehl
Kehl
Kehl is a town in southwestern Germany in the Ortenaukreis, Baden-Württemberg. It is located on the river Rhine, directly opposite the French city of Strasbourg.-History:...

, on the right bank of the Rhine right bank opposite Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

, fled and were evacuated in the course of the Battle of France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

, on 23 November 1944. French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 forces occupied the town in March 1945 and prevented the inhabitants from returning until 1953.

Demography




Expulsion area


During the period of 1944/1945 to 1993 up to 14 million ethnic Germans were encompassed in the expulsions, about 12 million Germans fled or were expelled from eastern Europe by 1950, possibly as many as 14 million if one also includes those who emigrated to Germany after 1950 Germans fled, were evacuated, or were expelled as a result of actions of Nazi Germany, the Red Army, civilian militias, and/or the organized efforts of governments of the reconstituted states of Eastern Europe. Rudolph Joseph Rummel summarised different estimates in a range between 11.6 and 18 million, and concluded that most probably 15 million people were affected. Between 1944 and 1950, at least 12 million had been expelled and resettled to post-war Germany, most of them (11.5 million) from the territories of post-war Poland and Czechoslovakia. These figures include neither those expelled to Austria nor those who took their post-war residence elsewhere. About three million persons of German ancestry remained in the expulsion areas, but gradually emigrated westward in the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 era or have been assimilated into the local populations.

The areas from which the Germans fled or were expelled were subsequently repopulated by nationals of the states to which that territory now belonged, many of whom were themselves expellees from lands further east.

Post-war Germany and Austria


On 29 October 1946, the Allied Occupation Zones in Germany already held 9.5 million refugees and expellees: 3.6 million in the British zone, 3.1 million in the U.S. zone, 2.7 million in the Soviet zone, 100,000 in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 and 60,000 in the French zone.

These numbers subsequently increased, with two million additional expellees counted in West Germany in 1950 for a total of 7.9 million (16.3% of the population). By origin, the West German expellee population consisted of about 5.5 million people from post-war Poland, primarily the former German East/new Polish West, two million from former Sudetenland
Sudetenland
Sudetenland is the German name used in English in the first half of the 20th century for the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia being within Czechoslovakia.The...

, and the rest primarily from Southeast Europe, the Baltic states and Russia.

According to estimates made in West Germany, in the Soviet zone the number rose to 4.2 million by 1948 (24.2% of the population) and 4.4 million by 1950, when the Soviet zone had become the state of East Germany.

Thus, a total of 12.3 million Heimatvertriebene
Heimatvertriebene
Heimatvertriebene are those around 12 million ethnic Germans who fled or were expelled after World War II from parts of Germany annexed by Poland and Russia, and from other countries, who found refuge in both West and East Germany, and Austria...

comprised 18% of the population in the two German states created from the Allied occupation zones
Allied Occupation Zones in Germany
The Allied powers who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II divided the country west of the Oder-Neisse line into four occupation zones for administrative purposes during 1945–49. In the closing weeks of fighting in Europe, US forces had pushed beyond the previously agreed boundaries for the...

 (Federal Republic of Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 and German Democratic Republic) in 1950, while another 500,000 expellees found refuge in Austria and other countries. Because of their influx, the population of the post-war German territory had risen by 9.3 million (16%) from 1939 to 1950 despite wartime population losses.

After the war, the area west of the new eastern border of Germany was crowded with expellees, some of them living in camps, some looking for relatives, some just stranded. Between 16.5% and 19.3% of the total population were expellees in the Western occupation zones and 24.2% in the Soviet occupation zone. Expellees made up 45% of the population in Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

, 40% in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern; similar percentages existed along the eastern border all the way to Bavaria, while in the westernmost German regions the numbers were significantly lower, especially in the French zone of occupation. Of the expellees initially stranded in East Germany, many migrated to West Germany, making up a disproportionally high number of post-war inner-German East-West migrants (close to one million of a three million total between 1949, when the West and East German states were created, and 1961, when the inner-German border was closed
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

).

Germans remaining in East Europe 1950

Country Per West Germany Per Reichling Per Eberhardt
Poland 1,536,000 1,700,000 170,000
Czechoslovakia 250,000 300,000 165,000
Hungary 270,000 270,000 22,500
Romania 400,000 400,000 343,900
Baltic( Memel/Klaipėda
Klaipeda
Klaipėda is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Nemunas River where it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County....

 )
15,000 18,000 0
Yugoslavia 82,000 82,000 0
Total 2,553,000 2,770,000 701,400


The table summarizes the estimates for ethnic Germans remaining in eastern Europe in 1950. The West German government in 1958 made an estimate that is often cited in historical literature. In 1985 Gerhard Reichling a researcher employed by West German government provided his own estimate of Germans remaining in east Europe in 1950, plus an additional 1,312,000 living in the USSR. Reichling detailed 1,410,000 persons who emigrated from 1951 to 1982 who were also considered expellees under West German law; Poland: 894,000; Czechoslovakia: 160,000; Hungary: 30,000; Romania: 144,000; Yugoslavia 80,000 and USSR 102,000. In 2003 the Polish demographer Piotr Eberhardt made his estimates for remaining Germans in 1950 that are significantly lower than those made in Germany

Casualties


Estimates of total deaths of German civilians have ranged from 500,000 to a maximum of 3.0 million persons. Although the German government's official estimate of deaths due to the flight and expulsions has stood at 2.2 million for several decades, recent analysis has led some historians to the conclusion that the actual number was much lower - in the range of 500,000 to 600,000. The higher figures (up to 3.2 million) typically include all deaths related to the 1939-1945 war including those serving in the German Armed Forces and 27,000 German Jews who were Nazi victims While earlier estimates were calculated by balancing pre- and post-expulsion populations, the more recent ones are based on researches accounting the number of verified deaths. There is still a media discourse regarding the validity of the methods and their results. Both the population balance figures, in the range of 2 to 3 million, as well as the number of verified deaths in the range of 500,000 to 600,000, are cited in the media.

Early estimates - population balances


In 1950 the West German Government made a preliminary estimate of three million German civilians missing in eastern Europe whose fate needed to be clarified.

One of the first attempts at estimating the number of deaths due to flight and expulsions was published in 1953 by Bruno Gleitze, who was trying to estimate overall German civilian casualties during World War II. Because accurate data on individual deaths was unavailable, Gleitze had to resort to the a 'population balance method', which estimates the likely number of Germans in the relevant territories before the expulsions and compares it to the population that arrived in the West as expellees. He estimated eight hundred thousand civilian deaths (for Germany within 1937 borders only) among only "Eastern Germans" in the area of the expulsions. The German historian Ingo Haar
Ingo Haar
Ingo Haar is a German historian. He received his Master of Arts from the University of Hamburg in 1993 and his PhD in History in 1998 at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg...

 points out that the figures in the Gleitze study were ignored by the Schieder commission
Schieder commission
Documents on the Expulsion of the Germans from Eastern-Central Europe is the abridged English translation of a multi-volume publication that was created by a commission of West German historians between 1951 and 1961...

 report, issued in 1953, which gave a figure of 1.673 million civilian deaths among the eastern Germans (in 1937 borders).

The Schieder Commission was set up by the West German government in the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 Era (1952) to document the fate of the Germans in eastern Europe. The head of the commission was Theodor Schieder
Theodor Schieder
Theodor Schieder was one of the most influential German historians of the 20th century.Schieder was born in Oettingen and lived in Königsberg in East Prussia since 1934. In the interwar period Schieder became a part of a group of German conservative historians antagonistic towards the Weimar...

, a rehabilitated
Denazification
Denazification was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of any remnants of the National Socialist ideology. It was carried out specifically by removing those involved from positions of influence and by disbanding or rendering...

 former member of the Nazi party, and a Nazi Lebensraum
Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

concept advocate. In 1939 Schieder had proposed the expulsion of millions of Jews, Poles, Russians and other nationalities
Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost was a secret Nazi German plan for the colonization of Eastern Europe. Implementing it would have necessitated genocide and ethnic cleansing to be undertaken in the Eastern European territories occupied by Germany during World War II...

 from Eastern Europe, in order to create "room" for German settlers
Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

. The other members of the commission included Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat was a German historian specializing in modern German social history whose work has been described by The Encyclopedia of Historians as indispensable for any serious study of the Third Reich. Broszat was born in Leipzig, Germany and studied history at the University of Leipzig and...

 and Hans-Ulrich Wehler
Hans-Ulrich Wehler
Hans-Ulrich Wehler is a German historian known for his role in promoting social history through the "Bielefeld School", and for his critical studies of 19th century Germany.-Career:...

, Schieder's students. In September 1953, West German minister for expellees Hans Lukaschek presented an interim report of the commission for the Oder-Neisse territory, estimating 2.5 million deaths and eight million expellees (for the Oder Neisse region, Poland and Danzig) which included two million civilians and 550,000 military and aerial warfare casualties. The same year, Gotthold Rhode estimated the casualties (including military) to be 3.14 million in all of Eastern Europe.

1958 Demographic Study


The Schieder commission
Schieder commission
Documents on the Expulsion of the Germans from Eastern-Central Europe is the abridged English translation of a multi-volume publication that was created by a commission of West German historians between 1951 and 1961...

 prepared reports that documented the fate of the ethnic Germans in eastern Europe, it did not issue the final figures for the losses. The West German government statistical office was responsible for analyzing the figures relating to the losses. These early estimates were superseded in 1958, when the West German government statistical office issued its final report, estimating a demographic loss of some 2.225 million German civilians in all of eastern Europe
Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche - "German in terms of people/folk" -, defined ethnically, is a historical term from the 20th century. The words volk and volkische conveyed in Nazi thinking the meanings of "folk" and "race" while adding the sense of superior civilization and blood...

 which included 1.339 million in the Oder-Neisse territory

The German historian Rüdiger Overmans pointed out in 1994 out these numbers represent only about 500,000 confirmed deaths (see section below) and the remaining persons were considered as missing. According to Overmans, based on the documents available in 1958, it was only possible to establish the deaths of about 500,000 individuals and that official German sources could not confirm the fates of the 1.7 million reported missing. Overmans believes that new research is needed to clarify the fate of those reported as missing.

Research tracing individual fates


Already in 1953, the West German government ordered that, in addition to the employment of demographic methods, data be collected about confirmed individual fates. By 1965, the Suchdienst (search service) of the German church was able to confirm 473,000 deaths. and an additional 1,906,000 cases of persons missing during the whole period of the flight during the war and expulsions . Overmans pointed out that the figure of 1.9 million missing is not reliable. The figure includes persons who were not ethnic Germans and persons reported as missing but were alive in eastern Europe. Ingo Haar believes that political pressure forced the authors of 1958 West German government demographic study to use the Church Service figures(including missing) as a basis for arriving at total losses of 2.2million ". The Suchdienst study was based on own research and questionnaires issued to expellees by expellee organizations, the results of which were archived in the Heimatsortkartei, "homestead register". After its completion, the German church numbers were archived and not released to the general public - according to Ingo Haar
Ingo Haar
Ingo Haar is a German historian. He received his Master of Arts from the University of Hamburg in 1993 and his PhD in History in 1998 at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg...

, this was due to a fear that the figures of confirmed deaths were "too low" and would lead to "politically undesirable conclusions". Rudiger Overmans revealed data from this unpublished study at an academic conference in Warsaw in 1994.

In 1969, the Federal West German government ordered a further study to be conducted by the German Federal Archives
German Federal Archives
The German Federal Archives or Bundesarchiv are the National Archives of Germany. They were established at the current location in Koblenz in 1952....

 which was finished in 1974 and published in 1989. Thereby false positives from the Suchdienst report were excluded and additional sources evaluated, resulting in a number of about 600,000 estimated deaths caused by what they call "war crimes". The definition of war crimes used by the 1974 Archives report includes estimated deaths caused by military activity in the 1944-45 campaign as well as deliberate killings and estimated deaths due to forced labor. The 1958 demographic study estimated total losses of 2.225 million persons including those whose fate is still unresolved and post war losses due to famine and disease. The 1974 study did not include Hungarian, Rumanian and Soviet ethnic Germans. Both Ingo Haar
Ingo Haar
Ingo Haar is a German historian. He received his Master of Arts from the University of Hamburg in 1993 and his PhD in History in 1998 at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg...

 and Rudiger Overmans have cited statistics from this report. The findings of this study were kept secret for 15 years in order not to disturb West German-Polish rapprochment
Ostpolitik
Neue Ostpolitik , or Ostpolitik for short, refers to the normalization of relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Eastern Europe, particularly the German Democratic Republic beginning in 1969...

, and were only made public in 1989 A Summary of the figures given in the 1974 German Federal Archives report is as follows; Total losses: about 600,000 which includes 140,000 to 170,000 violent deaths during the 1944-1945 military campaign by the Soviet forces and their allies; 250,000 deaths of persons in prisons or internment camps in eastern Europe and 200,000 forced laborers in the Soviet Union. These figures include 400,000 Germans who died in postwar-territory of Poland and the Soviet Kalingrad region, comprising an estimated 200,000 deaths as forced laborers in the USSR, 100-120,000 killed by the Soviets and their allies in the 1945 military campaign, and 100,000 deaths from postwar incarcerations and forced labor of remaining Germans by the Soviet occupation forces in Poland and the communist dominated Polish 'Provisional Government of National Unity
Provisional Government of National Unity
The Provisional Government of National Unity was a government formed by a decree of the State National Council on 28 June 1945. It was created as a coalition government between Polish Communists and the Polish government-in-exile...

'. For Czechoslovakia 30,000 violent deaths of which only 6,316 were confirmed and an estimated 100,000 in Czechoslovak internment camps of which only 6,989 were confirmed . In Yugoslavia they estimated 15-20,000 violent deaths, 60,000 in internment camps and 4,500 dead as forced labor in the USSR.

In 1995, the organization of German expellees from Yugoslavia revised the figures for Yugoslavia, giving a total of 57,730 verified deaths and 889 reported missing.

In 1995, a joint German and Czech commission of historians revised the number of civilian deaths in Czechoslovakia, from previous demographic estimates of 220,000 to 270,000 down to between 15,000 and 30,000 confirmed deaths (or by a factor of 10).

Discourse


The figure of 2 million deaths in the Flight and Expulsions was widely accepted prior to the end of communism in Eastern Europe and the end of the cold war. The recent disclosure of the German Federal Archives study and the Church Search Service figures have caused some scholars in Germany and Poland to question the validity of the figure of 2 million deaths, they estimate the actual total at 500-600,000. However, the German government still maintains that the figure of 2 million deaths is correct. The Expulsions is a contentious issue in German politics with the Federation of Expellees
Federation of Expellees
The Federation of Expellees or Bund der Vertriebenen is a non-profit organization formed to represent the interests of Germans who either fled their homes in parts of Central and Eastern Europe, or were expelled following World War II....

 staunchly defending the higher figure. The writings of Alfred-Maurice de Zayas
Alfred-Maurice de Zayas
Alfred-Maurice de Zayas is an American lawyer, writer, historian, a leading expert in the field of human rights, as well as a former high-ranking United Nations official...

 and Rudolph Rummel continue to remain influential in the English speaking world, they base their estimates of casualties on the 1958 German government estimate of 2.2 million deaths.

Rudiger Overmans and Ingo Haar
Ingo Haar
Ingo Haar is a German historian. He received his Master of Arts from the University of Hamburg in 1993 and his PhD in History in 1998 at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg...

 cited the studies by the Church Service and German Federal Archives with estimated deaths of 500,000 and 600,000. Overmans believes that further research is needed to determine the fate of the estimated additional 1.5 million civilians listed as missing. In 1994 Overmans maintained that these three previous studies are not definitive and that new research is needed to determine an accurate accounting of the losses Overmans believes that the figure of 473,000 deaths listed in the 1965 German Church Service study is incomplete and not a definitive accounting of losses in the flight and expulsions. Overmans also maintains that the 600,000 deaths found by the German Federal Archives in 1974 is only a rough estimate of those killed, not a definitive figure. Haar maintains that all reasonable estimates of deaths from expulsions lie between around 500,000 and 600,000.

Overmans studied overall casualties of the German military during the war and found that the previous estimates, especially in the final stages of the war, were about two million short of the actual death toll, which was 5.3 million rather than the previously believed 2.938 million. In his 2000 book, he found that military deaths from the expulsion areas were about 1.444 million, and thus 334,000 higher than the 1.1 million figure in the 1958 demographic study, lacking documents available today included the figures with civilian deaths. Overmans believes this will reduce the number of civilian deaths in the expulsions Overmans further pointed out that the 2.225 million number estimated by the 1958 study would imply that the casualty rate among the expellees was equal to or higher than that of the military, which he found implausible. Overmans researched only military deaths, he did not investigate civilian expulsion deaths, he merely noted the difference between the 2.0 million dead estimated in the 1950s demographic studies of which 500,000 to 600,000 have so far have been verified by the German Church Service and the German Federal Archives. Overmans maintained that civilian expulsion deaths should be subject to a “critical revision”.

Ingo Haar
Ingo Haar
Ingo Haar is a German historian. He received his Master of Arts from the University of Hamburg in 1993 and his PhD in History in 1998 at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg...

 believes that the figures have been inflated in German due to the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and domestic German politics, He also states that the 2.225 million number relies on improper statistical methodology and incomplete data, particularly in regard to the expellees who arrived in East Germany. Haar questions the validity of population balances in general. For example Haar pointed out that the German population balance includes 27,000 Jewish Holocaust victims Ingo Haar rejects the statement by the German government that the figure of 500-600,000 deaths omitted those people who died of disease and hunger; Haar stated that this is a "mistaken interpretation" of the data, he maintains that deaths due to disease, hunger and other conditions are already included in the lower numbers. According to Ingo Haar the numbers have been set too high for decades, for postwar political reasons.

In 2001 the Polish scholar Bernadetta Nitschke noted that historians in Poland maintain that most of the deaths occurred during the flight and evacuation during the war, the deportation to the U.S.S.R. for forced labor and after the resettlement due to the harsh conditions in the Soviet occupation zone in post war Germany. This is in sharp contrast to the Schieder commission
Schieder commission
Documents on the Expulsion of the Germans from Eastern-Central Europe is the abridged English translation of a multi-volume publication that was created by a commission of West German historians between 1951 and 1961...

 and the 1958 German government report which maintained that these deaths occurred after the war on Polish territory.

Christoph Bergner, former Secretary of State in Germany's Bureau for Internal Affairs, outlined the stance of the respective governmental institutions on German radio on 29 November 2006. Bergner said that the numbers are not contradictory, and that the lower 500,000 to 600,000 estimates by the German Church Service and the Federal Archives cited by Overmans and Haar comprise those actually killed in the course of the expulsion measures, while the estimates above two million also include people who died of disease, hunger, cold and Allied air raids while on their way to one or the other
German zones.

The German lawyer Heinz Nawratil
Heinz Nawratil
Heinz Nawratil is a German lawyer, legal author and human rights activist.After World War II Nawratil settled in Bavaria, West Germany, where he grew up in Miesbach. He studied law, earned a doctorate and worked as a civil law notary. He has written legal textbooks which have been printed in over...

 has published a study of the expulsions that has wide circulation in modern day Germany. Nawratil claims that the death toll was 2.8 million, he includes the losses of 2.2 million listed in the 1958 West German study, and an estimated 250,000 deaths of Germans resettled in Poland during the war, plus 350,000 ethnic Germans in the USSR. In 1987 the German historian Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat was a German historian specializing in modern German social history whose work has been described by The Encyclopedia of Historians as indispensable for any serious study of the Third Reich. Broszat was born in Leipzig, Germany and studied history at the University of Leipzig and...

 (former head of Institute of Contemporary History
Institut für Zeitgeschichte
The Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich was conceived in 1947 under the name Deutsches Institut für Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Zeit...

 in Munich) described Nawratil's writings as "polemics with a nationalist-rightist point of view and exaggerates in an absurd manner the scale of "expulsion crimes". Brozat also found Nawratil's book to have 'factual errors taken out of context'

In 1998 Rudolph Rummel examined the data by only English-language authors published before 1991 and found a range from 528,000 to 3,724,000 deaths due to the expulsions. In his own analysis of these sources, he calculated the total post-war expulsion deaths to be 1,863,000. He estimated an additional one million civilians perished during the wartime flight and evacuation before the expulsions. Rummel maintains that one has to rely on population balances for casualty estimates since accurate records of the dead are not available.
Rudolph Rummel did not take into account the recent material published in Germany by Rudiger Overmans and Ingo Haar that put the death toll at 500,000.

Condition of the expellees after arriving in post-war Germany


Those who arrived were in bad shape—particularly during the harsh winter of 1945-46, when arriving trains carried "the dead and dying in each carriage (other dead had been thrown from the train along the way)". After experiencing Red Army atrocities, Germans in the expulsion areas were subject to harsh punitive measures by Yugoslav partisans and in post-war Poland and Czechoslavakia. Beatings, rapes and murders accompanied the expulsions. Some had experienced massacres, such as the Ústí (Aussig) massacre
Ústí massacre
The Ústí massacre was a lynching of ethnic Germans in Ústí nad Labem , a largely ethnic German city in northern Bohemia shortly after the end of the World War II, on July 31, 1945....

, in which 80-100 ethnic Germans died, or conditions like those in the Upper Silesian Camp Łambinowice (Lamsdorf), where interned Germans were exposed to sadistic practices and at least 1,000 perished. In addition to the atrocities, the expellees had experienced hunger, thirst and disease, separation from family members, loss of civil rights and familiar environment,and sometimes internment and forced labour. Thus, many expellees were trauma
Psychological trauma
Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a traumatic event...

tized and carried a psychological burden for years, which especially the young and elderly were often unable to cope with.

Once they arrived, they found themselves in a country devastated by war. Housing shortages lasted until the 1960s, which along with other shortages led to conflicts with the local population. The situation eased only with the West German economic boom
Wirtschaftswunder
The term describes the rapid reconstruction and development of the economies of West Germany and Austria after World War II . The expression was used by The Times in 1950...

 in the 1950s that drove unemployment rates close to zero.

France did not participate in the Potsdam Conference, so it felt free to approve some of the Potsdam Agreements and dismiss others. France maintained the position that it had not approved the expulsions and therefore was not responsible for accommodating and nourishing the destitute expellees in its zone of occupation. While the French military government provided for the few refugees who arrived before July 1945 in the area that became the French zone, it succeeded in preventing entrance by later arriving ethnic Germans deported from the East.

Britain and the U.S. protested the actions of the French military government but had no means to force France to bear the consequences of the expulsion policy agreed upon by American, British and Soviet leaders in Potsdam. France persevered with its argument to clearly differentiate between war-related refugees and post-war expellees. In December 1946 it absorbed into its zone German refugees from Denmark, where 250,000 Germans travelled by sea between February and May 1945 to take refuge from the Soviets. These were refugees from the eastern parts of Germany, not expellees; Danes of German ethnicity remained untouched and Denmark did not expel them. With this humanitarian act the French saved many lives, due to the high death toll German refugees faced in Denmark.

Until the summer of 1945, the Allies had not reached an agreement on how to deal with the expellees. France suggested emigration to South America and Australia and the settlement of 'productive elements' in France, while the Soviets SMAD
Soviet Military Administration in Germany
The Soviet Military Administration in Germany was the Soviet military government, headquartered in Berlin-Karlshorst, that directly ruled the Soviet occupation zone of Germany from the German surrender in May 1945 until after the establishment of the German Democratic Republic in October...

 suggested a resettlement of millions of expellees in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

The Soviets, who encouraged and partly carried out the expulsions, offered little cooperation with humanitarian efforts, thereby requiring the Americans and Britons to absorb the expellees in their zones of occupation. In contradiction with the Potsdam Agreements, the Soviets neglected their obligation to provide supplies for the expellees. In Potsdam, it was agreed that 15% of all equipment dismantled in the Western zones—especially from the metallurgical, chemical and machine manufacturing industries—would be transferred to the Soviets in return for food, coal, potash (a basic material for fertilisers), timber, clay products, petroleum products, etc. The Western deliveries started in 1946, but this turned out to be a one-way street. The Soviet deliveries—desperately needed to provide the expellees with food, warmth, and basic necessities and to increase agricultural production in the remaining cultivation area—did not materialize. Consequently, the U.S. stopped all deliveries on 3 May 1946, while the expellees from the areas under Soviet rule were deported to the West until the end of 1947.


In the British and U.S. zones the supply situation worsened considerably, especially in the British zone. Due to its location on the Baltic, the British zone already harbored a great number of refugees who had come by sea, and the already modest rations had to be further shortened by a third in March 1946. In Hamburg for instance, the average living space per capita, reduced by air raids from 13.6 square metres in 1939 to 8.3 in 1945, was further reduced to 5.4 square metres in 1949 by billeting refugees and expellees. In May 1947, Hamburg trade unions organized a strike against the small rations, with protesters complaining about the rapid absorption of expellees.

The U.S. and Britain had to import food into their zones, even as Britain was financially exhausted and dependent on food imports having fought Nazi Germany for the entire war, partly as the single opponent (during the period when Poland and France were defeated, the Soviet Union supported Nazi Germany and the United States had yet entered the war). Consequently, Britain had to incur additional debt to the U.S. and the U.S. had to spend more for the survival of its zone, while the Soviets gained applause among Eastern Europeans—many of whom were impoverished by the war and German occupation—who plundered the belongings of refugees and expellees, often before they were actually expelled. Since the Soviet Union was the only power among the Allies that allowed and/or encouraged the looting and robbery in the area under its military influence, the perpetrators and profiteers blundered into a situation in which they became dependent on the perpetuation of Soviet rule in their countries in order not to be dispossessed of the booty and to stay unpunished.

With ever more expellees sweeping into post-war Germany, the Allies' moved towards a policy of assimilation, which was believed to be the best way to stabilise Germany and ensure peace in Europe by preventing the creation of a marginalised population. This policy led to the granting of German citizenship to the expellees like the Volksdeutsche, who had before their expulsion held citizenship as Poles, Czechoslovaks, Hungarians, Yugoslavs, Romanians, etc.

When the Federal Republic of Germany was founded, a law was drafted on 24 August 1952 that was primarily intended to ease the financial situation of the expellees. The law, termed Lastenausgleichsgesetz, granted partial compensation and easy credit to the expellees; the loss of their civilian property had been estimated at 299.6 billion Deutschmarks (out of a total loss of German property due to the border changes and expulsions of 355.3 billion Deutschmarks). Administrative organisations were set up to integrate the expellees into post-war German society. While the Stalinist
Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 regime in the Soviet occupation zone did not allow the expellees to organise, in the Western zones expellees over time established a variety of organisations. The most prominent—still active today—is the Federation of Expellees
Federation of Expellees
The Federation of Expellees or Bund der Vertriebenen is a non-profit organization formed to represent the interests of Germans who either fled their homes in parts of Central and Eastern Europe, or were expelled following World War II....

 (Bund der Vertriebenen).

"War children" of German ancestry in Western and Northern Europe


In countries occupied by Nazi Germany during the war whose population was not dubbed "inferior" (Untermensch
Untermensch
Untermensch is a term that became infamous when the Nazi racial ideology used it to describe "inferior people", especially "the masses from the East," that is Jews, Gypsies, Poles along with other Slavic people like the Russians, Serbs, Belarussians and Ukrainians...

) by the Nazis, fraternisation between Wehrmacht soldiers and indigenous women resulted in offspring. After the Wehrmacht's withdrawal, these women and their children of German descent were ill-treated. Though plans were made in Norway to expel the children and their mothers to Australia, these plans were never executed. For many war children, the situation would ease only decades after the war.

Reasons and justifications for the expulsions


Given the complex history of the affected regions and the divergent interests of the victorious Allied powers, it is difficult to ascribe a definitive set of motives to the expulsions. The respective paragraph of the Potsdam Agreement only states vaguely: "The Three Governments, having considered the question in all its aspects, recognize that the transfer to Germany of German populations, or elements thereof, remaining in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, will have to be undertaken. They agree that any transfers that take place should be effected in an orderly and humane manner". The major motivations revealed are:
  • A desire to create ethnically homogeneous nation-states: This is presented by several authors as a key issue that motivated the expulsions.

  • View of a German minority as potentially troublesome: From the Soviet perspective, shared by the communist administrations installed in Soviet-occupied Europe, the remaining large German populations outside post-war Germany were seen as a potentially troublesome 'fifth column
    Fifth column
    A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group such as a nation from within.-Origin:The term originated with a 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola, a Nationalist General during the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War...

    ' that would, furthermore, because of its social structure interfere with the envisioned Sovietisation of the respective countries. The western allies also saw the threat of a potential German 'fifth column', especially in Poland after the agreed-to compensation with former German territory. In general, the Western allies hoped to secure a more lasting peace by eliminating the German minorities, which they thought could be done in a humane manner.

  • Another motivation was to punish the Germans; the Allies declared them collectively guilty of German war crimes.

  • Soviet political considerations. Stalin saw the expulsions as a means of creating antagonism between the Soviet satellite states and their neighbours. The satellite states would then need the protection of the Soviet Union. The expulsions served several practical purposes as well.

A desire to create ethnically homogeneous nation-states




The creation of ethnically homogeneous nation states in Central and Eastern Europe was presented as the key reason for the official decisions of the Potsdam and previous Allied conferences as well as the resulting expulsions. The principle of every nation inhabiting its own nation state gave rise to a series of expulsions and resettlements of Germans, Poles, Ukrainians and others who after the war found themselves outside their supposed home states. The 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey
Population exchange between Greece and Turkey
The 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey was based upon religious identity, and involved the Greek Orthodox citizens of Turkey and the Muslim citizens of Greece...

 lent legitimacy to the concept. Churchill cited the operation as a success in a speech discussing the German expulsions.

In view of the desire for ethnically homogeneous nation-states it did not make sense to draw borders through regions which were already inhabited homogeneously by Germans without any minorities.

As early as on September 9, 1944, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

 and Polish communist Edward Osobka-Morawski
Edward Osóbka-Morawski
Edward Osóbka-Morawski was a Polish activist in PPS before World War II, and after the Soviet takover of Poland, Chairman of the Communist interim government called the Polish Committee of National Liberation formed in Lublin with Stalin's approval and backing.In October 1944, Osóbka-Morawski...

 of the Polish Committee of National Liberation
Polish Committee of National Liberation
The Polish Committee of National Liberation , also known as the Lublin Committee, was a provisional government of Poland, officially proclaimed 21 July 1944 in Chełm under the direction of State National Council in opposition to the Polish government in exile...

 signed a treaty in Lublin
Lublin
Lublin is the ninth largest city in Poland. It is the capital of Lublin Voivodeship with a population of 350,392 . Lublin is also the largest Polish city east of the Vistula river...

 on population exchanges of Ukrainians and Poles living on the "wrong" side of the Curzon line
Curzon Line
The Curzon Line was put forward by the Allied Supreme Council after World War I as a demarcation line between the Second Polish Republic and Bolshevik Russia and was supposed to serve as the basis for a future border. In the wake of World War I, which catalysed the Russian Revolution of 1917, the...

. Many of the 2.1 million Poles expelled from the Soviet-annexed Kresy
Kresy
The Polish term Kresy refers to a land considered by Poles as historical eastern provinces of their country. Today, it makes western Ukraine, western Belarus, as well as eastern Lithuania, with such major cities, as Lviv, Vilnius, and Hrodna. This territory belonged to the Polish-Lithuanian...

, so-called 'repatriants', were resettled to former German territories, then dubbed 'Recovered Territories'. Czech Eduard Benes in his decree of May 19, 1945, termed ethnic Hungarians and Germans "unreliable for the state", clearing a way for confiscations and expulsions.

Distrust and enmity


One of the reasons given by Stalin for the population transfer of Germans from the former eastern territories of Germany was the claim that these areas were a stronghold of the Nazi movement. However neither Stalin nor the other influential advocates of this argument required that expellees be checked for their political attitudes or their activities. Even in the few cases when this happened and expellees were proven to have been bystanders, opponents or even victims of the Nazi regime, they were rarely spared from expulsion. Polish Communist propaganda used and manipulated hatred of the Nazis to intensify the expulsions.

With German communities living within the pre-war borders of Poland, there was an expressed fear of disloyalty of Germans in Eastern Upper Silesia and Pomerelia
Pomerelia
Pomerelia is a historical region in northern Poland. Pomerelia lay in eastern Pomerania: on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea and west of the Vistula and its delta. The area centered on the city of Gdańsk at the mouth of the Vistula...

, based on wartime Nazi activities. Created on order of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, a Nazi ethnic German
Ethnic German
Ethnic Germans historically also ), also collectively referred to as the German diaspora, refers to people who are of German ethnicity. Many are not born in Europe or in the modern-day state of Germany or hold German citizenship...

 organisation called Selbstschutz
Selbstschutz
Selbstschutz stands for two organisations:# A name used by a number of paramilitary organisations created by ethnic Germans in Central and Eastern Europe# A name for self-defence measures and units in ethnic German, Austrian, and Swiss civil defence....

 carried out executions during Intelligenzaktion
Intelligenzaktion
Intelligenzaktion was a genocidal action of Nazi Germany targeting Polish elites as part of elimination of potentially dangerous elements. It was an early measure of the Generalplan Ost. About 60,000 people were killed as the result of this operation...

alongside operational groups of German military and police, in addition to such activities as identifying Poles for execution and illegally detaining them. To Poles, expulsion of Germans was seen as an effort to avoid such events in the future and as a result, Polish exile authorities proposed a population transfer of Germans as early as 1941. The Czechoslovak government-in-exile
Czechoslovak government-in-exile
The Czechoslovak government-in-exile was an informal title conferred upon the Czechoslovak National Liberation Committee, initially by British diplomatic recognition. The name came to be used by other World War II Allies as they subsequently recognized it...

 worked with the Polish government-in-exile towards this end during the war.

Preventing ethnic violence


The participants at the Potsdam Conference asserted that expulsions were the only way to prevent ethnic violence. As Winston Churchill expounded in the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 in 1944, "Expulsion is the method which, insofar as we have been able to see, will be the most satisfactory and lasting. There will be no mixture of populations to cause endless trouble... A clean sweep will be made. I am not alarmed by the prospect of disentanglement of populations, not even of these large transferences, which are more possible in modern conditions than they have ever been before". From this point of view, the policy achieved its goals: the 1945 borders are stable and ethnic conflicts are relatively marginal.

Punishment for starting the war and Nazi crimes


The expulsions were also driven by a desire for retribution, given the brutal way German occupiers treated non-German civilians in the German occupied territories during the war. Thus, the expulsions were partly motivated by the animus engendered by the war crimes, atrocities, brutalities and uncivilised rule of the German conquerors. Czechoslovak President Eduard Benes, in the National Congress, justified the expulsions on 28 October 1945 by stating that the majority of Germans had acted in full support of Hitler; during a ceremony in remembrance of the Lidice massacre
Lidice
Lidice is a village in the Czech Republic just northwest of Prague. It is built on the site of a previous village of the same name which, as part of the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, was on orders from Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, completely destroyed by German forces in reprisal...

, he blamed all Germans as responsible for the actions of the German state. In Poland and Czechoslovakia, newspapers, leaflets and politicians across the political spectrum, which narrowed during the post-war Communist take-over
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

, asked for retribution for wartime German activities. Responsibility of the German population for the crimes committed in its name was also asserted by commanders of the late and post-war Polish military. Karol Świerczewski
Karol Swierczewski
Karol Wacław Świerczewski was a Pole who became a Soviet military officer and a general. He served as a general in the service of the Soviet Union, Republican Spain, and the Soviet sponsored Polish Provisional Government of National Unity after World War II.- Life :Karol Świerczewski grew up in...

, commander of the 2nd Polish army, briefed his soldiers to "exact on the Germans what they enacted on us, so they will flee on their own and thank God they saved their lives". In Poland, which had suffered the loss of six million citizens, including her elite
Operation Tannenberg
Operation Tannenberg was the codename for one of the extermination actions directed at the Polish people during World War II, part of the Generalplan Ost...

 and almost an entire Jewish population
History of the Jews in Poland
The history of the Jews in Poland dates back over a millennium. For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world. Poland was the centre of Jewish culture thanks to a long period of statutory religious tolerance and social autonomy. This ended with the...

 due to the Holocaust and the lebensraum
Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

 concept, most Germans were seen as Nazi-perpetrators who could now finally be collectively punished for their past deeds.

The Allies' Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

 dealt only with individuals. The Trials indicted and found guilty numerous top Nazis for crimes against humanity and a variety of war crimes.

Soviet political considerations


Stalin, who had earlier directed a number of population transfers in the Soviet Union, strongly supported the expulsions, which worked to the Soviet Union's advantage in several ways. The satellite states would now feel the need to be protected by the Soviets from German anger over the expulsions. The assets left by the expellees in Poland and Czechoslovakia were successfully used to reward cooperation with the new governments, and support for the Communists was especially strong in areas that had seen significant expulsions. Settlers in these territories welcomed the opportunities presented by their fertile soils and vacated homes and enterprises, increasing their loyalty.

Legacy of the expulsions


With at least 12 million Germans directly involved, possibly 14 million or more, it was the largest movement or transfer of any single ethnic population in European history and largest among the post-war expulsions in Central and Eastern Europe (which displaced more than twenty million people in total).

The exact number of Germans expelled after the war is still unknown, because most recent research provides a combined estimate which includes those who were evacuated by the German authorities, fled or were killed during the war. However, it is estimated that between 12 and 14 million ethnic Germans and their descendants were displaced from their homes. The exact number of casualties is still unknown and is difficult to establish due to the chaotic nature of the last months of the war.

Census figures placed the total number of ethnic Germans still living in Eastern Europe in 1950, after the major expulsions were complete, at approximately 2.6 million, about 12 percent of the pre-war total.

The events have been usually classified as population transfer,
or as ethnic cleansing.
R. J. Rummel
R. J. Rummel
Rudolph Joseph Rummel is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii. He has spent his career assembling data on collective violence and war with a view toward helping their resolution or elimination...

 has classified these events as democide,
and a few go as far as calling it a genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

.

The expulsions created major social disruptions in the receiving territories, which were tasked with providing housing and employment for millions of refugees. West Germany established a ministry dedicated to the problem, and several laws created a legal framework. The expellees established several organisations, some demanding compensation. Their grievances, while remaining controversial, were incorporated into public discourse. During 1945 the British press aired concerns over the refugees' situation; this was followed by limited discussion of the issue during the Cold War outside West Germany. East Germany sought to avoid alienating the Soviet Union and its neighbours; the Polish and Czechoslovakian governments characterised the expulsions as "a just punishment for Nazi crimes". Western analysts were inclined to see the Soviet Union and its satellites as a single entity, disregarding the national disputes that had preceded the Cold War. The fall of the Soviet Union and the unification of Germany
Unification of Germany
The formal unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German...

 opened the door to a renewed examination of the expulsions in both scholarly and political circles. A factor in the ongoing nature of the dispute is the high proportion of the German citizenry that consists of expellees and their descendents, estimated at about 20% in 2000.

Status in international law



International law on population transfer underwent considerable evolution during the 20th century. Before World War II, a number of major population transfers were the result of bilateral treaties and had the support of international bodies such as the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

. The tide started to turn when the charter of the Nuremberg Trials of German Nazi leaders declared forced deportation of civilian populations to be both a war crime and a crime against humanity, and this opinion was progressively adopted and extended through the remainder of the century. Underlying the change was the trend to assign rights to individuals, thereby limiting the rights of nation-states to impose fiats which adversely affected them. The Charter of the then newly formed United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 stated that its Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 could take no enforcement actions regarding measures taken against World War II "enemy states", defined as enemies of a Charter signatory in World War II. The Charter also stated that it did not preclude action in relation to such enemies "taken or authorized as a result of that war by the Governments having responsibility for such action." Thus, the Charter did not invalidate or preclude action against World War II enemies following the war. This argument is, however, contested by American professor of international law Alfred de Zayas. ICRC
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

's legal adviser Jean-Marie Henckaerts says that the contemporary expulsions conducted by the Allies of World War II themselves were the reason why expulsion issues were included neither in the UN Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, nor in the European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953...

 in 1950, and says it "may be called 'a tragic anomaly'" that while deportations were outlawed at Nuremberg they were used by the same powers as a "peacetime measure". It was only in 1955 that the Settlement Convention regulated expulsions, yet only in respect to expulsions of individuals of the states who signed the convention. The first international treaty condemning mass expulsions was a document issued by the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

 on 16 September 1963 titled Protocol No 4 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms Securing Certain Rights and Freedoms Other than Those Already Included in the Convention and in the First Protocol [sic!], stating in Article 4: "collective expulsion of aliens is prohibited". This protocol entered into force on 2 May 1968, and as of 1995 was ratified by 19 states.

There is now little debate about the general legal status of involuntary population transfers: "Where population transfers used to be accepted as a means to settle ethnic conflict, today, forced population transfers are considered violations of international law." No legal distinction is made between one-way and two-way transfers, since the rights of each individual are regarded as independent of the experience of others.

Although the signatories to the Potsdam Agreements and the expelling countries may have considered the expulsions to be legal under international law at the time, there are historians and scholars in international law and human rights who argue that the expulsions of Germans from Central and Eastern Europe should now be considered as episodes of ethnic cleansing, and thus a violation of human rights. For example, Timothy V. Waters argues in "On the Legal Construction of Ethnic Cleansing" that if similar circumstances arise in the future, the precedent of the expulsions of the Germans without legal redress would also allow the future ethnic cleansing of other populations under international law. In the 1970s and 1980s a Harvard-trained lawyer and historian, Alfred de Zayas, published Nemesis at Potsdam
Nemesis at Potsdam
Nemesis at Potsdam is a 1977 book by the American lawyer and historian Alfred-Maurice de Zayas.The title is drawn from Greek mythology; Nemesis is the Greek goddess of revenge...

and A Terrible Revenge
A Terrible Revenge
A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans, 1944-1950 is a bookby Alfred-Maurice de Zayas about the expulsion of Germans after World War II...

, both of which became bestsellers in Germany. De Zayas argues that the expulsions were war crimes and crimes against humanity even in the context of international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 of the time, stating "the only applicable principles were the Hague Conventions
Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907)
The Hague Conventions were two international treaties negotiated at international peace conferences at The Hague in the Netherlands: The First Hague Conference in 1899 and the Second Hague Conference in 1907...

, in particular, the Hague Regulations, ARTICLES 42-56, which limited the rights of occupying powers – and obviously occupying powers have no rights to expel the populations – so there was the clear violation of the Hague Regulations". He also argued that they violated the Nuremberg Principles
Nuremberg Principles
The Nuremberg principles were a set of guidelines for determining what constitutes a war crime. The document was created by the International Law Commission of the United Nations to codify the legal principles underlying the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi party members following World War II.- Principle...

. In November 2000 a major conference on ethnic cleansing in the 20th century was held at Duquesne University
Duquesne University
Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit is a private Catholic university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded by members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, Duquesne first opened its doors as the Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost in October 1878 with an enrollment of...

, along with the publication of a book containing participants' conclusions.

Numerous human rights experts have argued that all victims deserve compassion, and that it is unacceptable to discriminate amongst victims or to apply principles of collective guilt to innocent civilian populations. The first UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, José Ayala Lasso (Ecuador) endorsed the establishment of the Centre Against Expulsions in Berlin. Ayala Lasso gave the German expellees recognition as victims of gross violations of human rights. Professor de Zayas, a member of the advisory board of the Stiftung Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen
Centre Against Expulsions
The Centre Against Expulsions was a planned German documentation centre for expulsions and ethnic cleansing, particularly the expulsion of Germans after World War II. Since March 19, 2008 the name of the project is Sichtbares Zeichen gegen Flucht und Vertreibung...

, endorses the full participation of the organisation representing the expellees, the Bund der Vertriebenen, in the Centre in Berlin.

Now the only real project is named "Visual Sign" (Sichtbares Zeichen) and the name of the responsible foundation is Stiftung Flucht, Vertreibung, Versöhnung (SFVV).

Historiography


The German historian Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

 called the expulsions a "national catastrophe" that was just as tragic as the Holocaust. Against Hillgruber, the British historian Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

 wrote that though the expulsions of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe was done in an extremely brutal manner that could not be defended, the basic aim of expelling the ethnic German population of Poland and Czechoslovakia was justified by the subversive role played by the German minorities before World War II. Evans wrote that under the Weimar Republic the vast majority of ethnic Germans in Poland and Czechoslovakia made it clear that they were not loyal to the states they happened to live under, and under the Third Reich the German minorities in Eastern Europe were willing tools of German foreign policy. Evans wrote that many areas of Eastern Europe featured a jumble of various ethnic groups of which Germans were only one, and that it was the destructive role played by ethnic Germans as instruments of Nazi Germany that led to their expulsion after the war. Finally Evans argued that the expulsions were justified as they put an end to a major problem that plagued Europe before the war; that gains to the cause of peace were a further benefit of the explusions; and that if the Germans had been allowed to remain in Eastern Europe after the war, West Germany would had used their presence to make territorial claims against Poland and Czechoslovakia, and that given the Cold War, this could had helped cause World War III. The American historian Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Ludwig Weinberg is a German-born American diplomatic and military historian noted for his studies in the history of World War II. Weinberg currently is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been a member of the...

 wrote that the explusions of the Sudeten Germans was justified as the Germans themselves had scrapped the Munich Agreement.

Political issues


In January 1990 the Czechoslovakian President Vaclav Havel
Václav Havel
Václav Havel is a Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician. He was the tenth and last President of Czechoslovakia and the first President of the Czech Republic . He has written over twenty plays and numerous non-fiction works, translated internationally...

 requested forgiveness on his country's behalf, notably using the term expulsion rather than transfer. Public approval for Havel's stance was limited; in a 1996 opinion poll, 86% of Czechs stated they would not support a party that endorsed such an apology. The expulsion topic also surfaced in 2002 during the Czech Republic's application for membership in the European Union, since the authorisation decrees issued by Edvard Beneš
Edvard Beneš
Edvard Beneš was a leader of the Czechoslovak independence movement, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the second President of Czechoslovakia. He was known to be a skilled diplomat.- Youth :...

 had not been formally renounced.

A Centre against Expulsions
Centre Against Expulsions
The Centre Against Expulsions was a planned German documentation centre for expulsions and ethnic cleansing, particularly the expulsion of Germans after World War II. Since March 19, 2008 the name of the project is Sichtbares Zeichen gegen Flucht und Vertreibung...

 was to be set up in Berlin by the German government based on an initiative and with active participation of the German Federation of Expellees. The Centre's creation has been criticized in Poland. It was strongly opposed by the Polish government and president Lech Kaczyński
Lech Kaczynski
Lech Aleksander Kaczyński was Polish lawyer and politician who served as the President of Poland from 2005 until 2010 and as Mayor of Warsaw from 2002 until 22 December 2005. Before he became a president, he was also a member of the party Prawo i Sprawiedliwość...

. Current Polish prime minister Donald Tusk
Donald Tusk
Donald Franciszek Tusk is a Polish politician who has been Prime Minister of Poland since 2007. He was a co-founder and is chairman of the Civic Platform party....

 restricted his comments to a recommendation that Germany pursue a neutral approach at the museum. According to the Polish position, the centre seeks to paint a population of Germans as victims of World War II. Many in Poland argue that there is no moral equivalent to how Jews, Poles, Russians, Romani people and many others suffered at the hands of the German Nazis. Now the only real project is named "Visual Sign" (Sichtbares Zeichen).

In October 2009 the Czech President Vaclav Klaus
Václav Klaus
Václav Klaus is the second President of the Czech Republic and a former Prime Minister .An economist, he is co-founder of the Civic Democratic Party, the Czech Republic's largest center-right political party. Klaus is a eurosceptic, but he reluctantly endorsed the Lisbon treaty as president of...

 stated that the Czech Republic would require exemption from the European Charter of Fundamental Rights in order to ensure that the descendents of expelled Germans were unable to press claims against the Republic.

See also


  • Bakker-Schut Plan
    Bakker-Schut Plan
    At the end of World War II, plans were made in the Netherlands to annex German territory as compensation for the damages caused by the war. In October 1945, the Dutch state asked Germany for 25 billion guilders in reparations, but in February 1945 it had already been established at the Yalta...

  • Expulsion of Poles by Nazi Germany (1939-1944)
  • German exodus from Eastern Europe
    German exodus from Eastern Europe
    The German exodus from Eastern Europe describes the dramatic reduction of ethnic German populations in lands to the east of present-day Germany and Austria. The exodus began in the aftermath of World War I and was implicated in the rise of Nazism. It culminated in expulsions of Germans from...

  • German reparations for World War II
    German reparations for World War II
    After World War II, both West Germany and East Germany were obliged to pay war reparations to the Allied governments, according to the Potsdam Conference...

  • Operation Paperclip
    Operation Paperclip
    Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II...

  • Organised persecution of ethnic Germans
    Organised persecution of ethnic Germans
    The Organised persecution of ethnic Germans refers to systematic activity against groups of ethnic Germans based on their ethnicity.Historically, this has been due to two causes: the German population were considered, whether factually or not, linked with German nationalist regimes such as those of...

  • Population transfer in the Soviet Union
    Population transfer in the Soviet Union
    Population transfer in the Soviet Union may be classified into the following broad categories: deportations of "anti-Soviet" categories of population, often classified as "enemies of workers," deportations of entire nationalities, labor force transfer, and organized migrations in opposite...

  • Pursuit of Nazi collaborators
    Pursuit of Nazi collaborators
    The pursuit of Nazi collaborators refers to the post-World War II pursuit and apprehension of individuals who were not citizens of the Third Reich at the outbreak of World War II and collaborated with the Nazi regime during the war...

  • Treaty of Zgorzelec
    Treaty of Zgorzelec
    The Treaty of Zgorzelec between the Republic of Poland and East Germany was signed on 6 July 1950 in Polish Zgorzelec, until 1945 the eastern part of the divided city of Görlitz.The agreement...

  • Victor Gollancz
    Victor Gollancz
    Sir Victor Gollancz was a British publisher, socialist, and humanitarian.-Early life:Born in Maida Vale, London, he was the son of a wholesale jeweller and nephew of Rabbi Professor Sir Hermann Gollancz and Professor Sir Israel Gollancz; after being educated at St Paul's School, London and taking...

  • World War II crimes in Poland
  • World War II-era population transfers
  • Istrian exodus
    Istrian exodus
    The expression Istrian exodus or Istrian-Dalmatian exodus is used to indicate the departure of ethnic Italians from Istria, Rijeka, and Dalmatia , after World War II. At the time of the exodus, these territories were part of the SR Croatia and SR Slovenia , today they are parts of the Republics of...



Sources

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    Nemesis at Potsdam
    Nemesis at Potsdam is a 1977 book by the American lawyer and historian Alfred-Maurice de Zayas.The title is drawn from Greek mythology; Nemesis is the Greek goddess of revenge...

    : The Expulsion of the Germans from the East
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  • de Zayas, Alfred-Maurice
    Alfred-Maurice de Zayas
    Alfred-Maurice de Zayas is an American lawyer, writer, historian, a leading expert in the field of human rights, as well as a former high-ranking United Nations official...

    . A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994, ISBN 1-4039-7308-3
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  • Naimark, Norman M. The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949, Harvard University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-674-78405-7
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  • Prauser, Steffen and Arfon Rees (eds.). The Expulsion of 'German' Communities from Eastern Europe at the end of the Second World War, (EUI Working Paper HEC No. 2004/1) Florence: European University Institute.
  • Reichling, Gerhard. Die deutschen Vertriebenen in Zahlen, 1986. ISBN 3-88557-046-7
  • Truman Presidential Library: Marshal Plan Documents


  • Zybura, Marek. Niemcy w Polsce [Germans in Poland], Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie, 2004. ISBN 83-7384-171-7

External links