Postscript to WWII: the mass exodus of Germans from former occupied countries
The mass deportations, voluntarily and otherwise, of Germans at the end of WWII from various European countries is forgotten by history. A glimpse of some possessions and the stories behind them is the focus of the Usti municipal museum exhibition in Usti nad Labem, North Bohemia, Czechoslovakia. The museum translated the texts into Czech and bolstered the number of items from its region to the display that will be open until May 14. Exhibition curator Tomas Okurka said the people often had only small pieces of baggage weighing between 30 to 50 kilograms. They most often took the items they required the most such as basic cookware, clothes, pillows and duvets in addition to personal items like children`s toys or prayer books.
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Croatia compiles a list of WWII mass graves filled with German civilians and Wehrmacht soldiers
A lot of time and resources have been poured into recording the mass graves resulting from Nazi atrocities. However, of the hundreds of WWII-era mass graves used by the Communists to bury executed Germans only couple of percent have been properly investigated.
Croatian interior ministry and the Croatian Institute for History are in the process of compiling a list of the mass graves which were used to bury the German victims - both civilians who perished in the communist camps 1944-1948 and Wehrmacht troops who were executed during the last years of the World War Two. So far the list includes over 200 sites, and it covers only the mass graves in Croatia, not the entire area which made up the former Yugoslavia. Of the 200,000 ethnic Germans who came under the Communist authorities in former Yugoslavia, just a few thousands survived.
German WWII victims struggle to receive recognition as commemoration day proposal is condemned by historians
History of Germany - especially the Third Reich era - is filled with sore points. Just a decade ago it was nearly impossible to portray Hitler as a human being, but films like Downfall ("Untergang") have managed to break this taboo. However, portraying Germans as WWII victims is still too much for the most people.
A new parliamentary proposal to set up a commemoration day in honor of those Germans expelled from Eastern Europe after the Second World War has resurrected a debate about Germany`s 20th century history. Dozens of historians have expressed strong disapproval of the idea in an open letter.
Numbers: Up to 10 million Germans were forced to leave Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and other Eastern European regions (some of which had been German territory prior to the war) after the war. Hundreds of thousands of the expellees lost their lives as they were driven out of their homes, estates and societies.
Award for director David Vondracek whose documentary film reveals how Czechs massacred 763 German civilians
Czech film director David Vondracek has won the Franz Werfel Human Rights Award - granted by the German Centre Against Expulsions foundation - for his documentary film "Killing Czech Style," which focuses on Postoloprty massacre.
WW2 film Habermann: The story of the Sudetenland from the day the Nazis marched in until the Germans were expelled
The fate of the 3 million murdered and expelled Sudeten Germans, who were forced by war-weary Czechs to wear the letter "N" just like Jews had to wear the yellow star, is still a very sensitive topic and the new WW2 film Habermann breaks taboos by exploring the controversial events.
Postwar footage shows how Red Army soldiers and Czech militiamen execute German civilians
It is well known that German civilians fell victim to Czech atrocities after the Nazi surrender. But a newly discovered video shows one such massacre in brutal detail. The footage - 7 minutes of film, shot with an 8mm camera on May 10, 1945 - was taken in the Prague district of Borislavka. Amateur filmmaker Jirí Chmelnicek documented the city`s liberation. His camera also filmed groups of Germans, driven into Kladenska Street by Red Army soldiers and Czech militia. The camera then pans to the side of the street, where 40 men and at least 1 woman stand. Shots ring out and, one after another, they slump and fall.
Student documentary film reveals how Soviet Union herded Ethnic Germans into death camps
Students at St. Louis Community College-Meramec (STLCC) have created an in-depth, feature-length documentary film "The Forgotten Genocide." The documentary film reveals the suffering of Ethnic Germans behind the Iron Curtain. At the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union systematically drove Ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe into death camps for the purpose of extinction. By examining relics of the era and carrying out interviews with German survivors of a little-known historical atrocity, students are unfolding this forgotten story.
European court rejects expelled Germans` property restitution claims
A European court discarded a restitution claim by Germans expelled at the end of World War II from Poland — a decision gladly accepted by the leaders of both countries. The Prussian Claims Society filed its case seeking restitution for lost property to the European Court of Human Rights, accusing Poland of violating the rights of those driven from their prewar homes as borders were redrawn in 1945. The court said it had no legal power to rule on the case. While the Prussian Claims Society acknowledged that Nazi Germany caused massive suffering on Poland, it said that it also was unjust to punish individual Germans for Hitler`s crimes in the postwar expulsions.
In pictures: History of lost Sudetenland
70 years ago, Wermacht began to occupy the borderland regions of multi-ethnic Czechoslovakia called Sudetenland. 7 years later, as Third Reich lost the war, over two million Germans were expelled. Many parts of the borderland were devastated in the process - never recovering. Many people stormed Sudetenland after Germans left, ransacking and destroying it. In some places, houses were left to crumble, other areas were damaged by brown coal mining. Unique photographs collected by Antikomplex civic association, that published a book "Zmizelé Sudety" (Lost Sudetes), show how the Sudetenland changed dramatically during the 20th century.
German Government approves controversial museum devoted to German WWII refugees
The controversial museum about German WW2 refugees has Poland and the Czech Republic worried some in Germany want to rewrite history. Warsaw has granted a cautious approval to the museum, but Poland and the Czech Republic have worried the museum would portray them as villains of reprisals against ethnic Germans after the end of World War II. Millions of ethnic Germans were kicked out from Eastern Europe as borders were altered after Nazi Germany`s defeat. Descendants of the refugees campaigned for the museum, saying that their woes had been blanked out of Europe`s collective memory.
Czechs must return forest property - seized after WWII - back to an ethnic German family
The Czech Supreme Court (NS) ruled that the authorities of the village of Zdarek near Turnov must return a forest (0.25 hectares) to Johanna Kammerlander, heiress of the Walderode noble family. No property has so far been returned to Kammerlander. The courts have always ruled against her claims, pointing to the postwar decrees by President Edvard Benes that ratified the seizing of German property after World War II, except that held by anti-fascists. Karl des Fours Walderode, an ethnic German, was stripped of his family property under the Benes decrees in 1946.
Stalin-era deportations have forever shattered the Volga German Autonomous Republic
In 1993, Yuri Gaar brought his 74-year-old mother from Kazakhstan back to her homeland in the meadows along the Volga River. She wasn`t a Russian returning to the motherland. She was German, reconnecting with was the Volga German Autonomous Republic, once a thriving enclave of ethnic Germans deep within the Soviet Union. The enclave disintegrated as a result of Josef Stalin`s wave of deportations to Kazakhstan or Siberia. Many of those who survived later traveled back to their homelands after Stalin`s death. The Chechens, the Ingush, the Kalmyks rebuilt their cultures. Volga Germans weren`t as lucky.
Germany to open documentation center remembering World War II expulsions
Germany gave the green light for a controversial center recalling the expulsions of Germans from central Europe after WW2. The center, to be built in Berlin at 30 million euros is a "visible symbol against flight and expulsions." It will be located near famous Potsdamer Platz and will be part of the German History Museum. A permanent exhibition about 12-14 million Germans forced out of their homes by Polish and Czech governments will create the centerpiece. The center will also document forced expulsions of other peoples, and the fate of refugees until the present day.
After the Reich: The Brutal History of The Allied Occupation by Giles MacDonogh (Article no longer available from the original source)
After the Reich tells how millions of Germans were driven from their homes, violated, starved, beaten and shot in the aftermath of WW2. Given the scale of Nazi atrocities and that history is written by the victors, it is not surprising that German agony was underplayed in later accounts. A million German soldiers died after the War, most in Soviet captivity as slave labourers. A further 2 million women, children and elderly died, including 250,000 Sudenten Germans, ethnically cleansed by vengeful Czech compatriots. German communities in Poland and East Prussia were driven from their homes and left to starve.
Russia Hopes to Lure Back Ethnic Germans
2.3 million ethnic Germans from the Soviet Union have emigrated to Germany since 1991 - drawn by nearly automatic citizenship offered by Berlin and a desire to get to know their roots. Faced with a demographic crisis, Russia is now trying to lure them back. German immigrants were invited to Russia during the 18th century by Czarina Catherine the Great - herself a German princess. Oppressed during the Soviet era, their descendants were sent into forced exile to remote areas by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Russia`s efforts to help its dwindling ethnic German community - 600,000, according to official figures - have been welcomed by Berlin.
German World War II expellees seek national recognition
The entire German nation should recall the sufferings of the millions of German-speakers thrown out of Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, said Erika Steinbach, head of the federation of German expellees (BdV). Steinbach called for a national day to be proclaimed to mark the sufferings of those who suffered expulsion, persecution and death during the final days of WWII and afterwards. Estimates put the number of ethnic Germans expelled after the war, many from western Poland and the western Czech Republic, at 13-16 million. Many of them died or were killed during their journey to the west.
Bavarian PM Edmund Stoiber enters Sudeten German row
Bavarian PM Edmund Stoiber criticized the decrees legitimizing the expulsion of millions ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia at the end of World War 2. Laws proclaimed by President Edvard Benes led to the confiscation of German property and the deportation of Sudeten Germans, who were all accused of having been Nazi collaborators. Many died in the expulsions and hundreds of thousands later settled in Germany and Austria, where they and their descendants still live. The Czech government and Poland are opposed to the creation of a national center against expulsions, fearing it could attempt to rewrite history by portraying Germans as victims.
TV breaks taboo with story of refugees - driven out by Red Army (Article no longer available from the original source)
Taboo-breaking tv drama tackled, for the first time, the plight of millions of germans who were driven out of what is now eastern Europe by Russia`s Red Army after WW2. The 3-hour Die Flucht, the March of Millions, was an attempt to face up to an issue that has been a source of resentment for many Germans and which is the subject of a row between Berlin and Poland. 14 million Germans were expelled from the former eastern territories of East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia and Sudetenland. Most those expelled lost their property for good. Die Flucht tells the story of Prussian noblewoman Lena, who shepherds her retinue of country estate workers to safety by fleeing westwards.
Exhibition recalls millions of germans beaten after World War II
Germany is recalling its suffering in the confusion after the Second World War when millions of germans from Eastern Europe were expelled. As the liberated Poles and Czechs sought revenge on their former oppressors, many German women were violated and beaten; some were nailed to cartwheels. Now the suffering is being remembered in an exhibition in Berlin. For Erika Steinbach it is the first step towards creating a permanent centre in Berlin to commemorate the 12 million Germans deported. The Polish President says that it is an attempt to represent Germans as victims. Earlier, one Polish magazine cover depicted Frau Steinbach in a black SS uniform.
Stories of Sudeten Germans expelled after WW2 on CD (Article no longer available from the original source)
Saxony is issuing CDs with stories told by Sudeten Germans who were deported from then Czechoslovakia after World War II within the project "History Alive." The generation of Sudeten German expellees is slowly dying out, the 39 recordings come from the people who experienced the deportation. A number of them do not consider the post-war deportation as a war consequence and they are waiting for the apology. 2.5 million Germans were transferred from then Czechoslovakia after World War II and their property was confiscated.
Villains or Victims - the myths about Sudeten Germans (Article no longer available from the original source)
Two different messages about the Sudeten Germans confront Czechs: They are still taught about the German colonialists who turned Nazi and wanted to destroy the country. And yet one cannot escape reports of postwar death marches, expulsions and mass graves, where Sudeten Germans were victims not perpetrators. One myth: Sudeten Germans supposedly all voted for the Nazi puppet Sudeten German Party (SdP) of Konrad Henlein. In fact, the SdP is likely to have received 50% to 55% of the Sudeten German vote.
Forgotten Sudeten Germans: 15-year-old girl on a death march
As Czechoslovakia was liberated from the Nazis at the end of World War II, the population of the country took its revenge - not on the Nazis, but on three million of their fellow citizens. For centuries, ethnic Germans had lived in the Czech lands which became part of Czechoslovakia after WWI. But as the Nazis were driven out of Czechoslovakia, it was open season on Germans - any Germans. Among those caught up in the violence that followed was a 15-year-old ethnic German Czech girl, Ingeborg Neumeyer. In the middle of the night, she and her family were evicted from their apartment in the city of Brno and sent on a death march.
Czechs` hidden revenge against Germans
"We hated the Germans so much, we even hated the sound of the German language," Zdena Nemcova. In 1945, 2,500,000 ethnic Germans were driven from their homes in Czechoslovakia. Thousands died. The Czechs made the Sudeten German minority pay for Nazi occupation. This is a story about Germans as victims of World War II. To the Germans, their expulsion was a war crime, an early case of ethnic cleansing. To the Czechs the expulsions were retribution after 6 years of Nazi occupation. What cannot be disputed is the brutality of the expulsions, during the chaotic transition from war to approximate peace.