The Expulsion of the Germans From Eastern Europe After World War IIBook - 2012
The news agency Reuters reported in 2009 that a mass grave containing 1,800 bodies was found in Malbork, Poland. Polish authorities suspected that they were German civilians that were probably killed by advancing Soviet forces or in their subsequent flight. A Polish archeologist supervising the exhumation, said “We are dealing with a mass grave of civilians, probably of German origin. The presence of children. . . . suggests they were civilians.”
More than sixty years ago the German Nazi regime committed great crimes against innocent civilian victims: Jews, Poles, Russians, Serbs, and other people of Central and Eastern Europe. At war’s end, however, innocent German civilians in turn became victims of crimes against humanity. Forgotten Voices lets these victims of ethnic cleansing tell their story in their own words, so that they and what they endured are not forgotten. This volume is an important supplement to the voices of victims of totalitarianism and has been written in order to keep the historical record clear.
The root cause of this tragedy was ultimately the Nazi German regime as such. As a leading German historian, Hans-Ulrich Wehler has noted “Germany should avoid creating a cult of victimization, and thus forgetting Auschwitz and the mass killing of Russians.” Ulrich Merten argues that applying collective punishment to an entire people, no matter what the circumstances, is a crime against humanity. He concludes that this should also be recognized as a European catastrophe, and not only a German one, because of its magnitude and the broad violation of human rights that occurred on European soil.
Many civilian German refugees were killed by the central and eastern European military in ethnic cleansing campaigns immediately after WWII. Ulrich, now vice president of an NGO working in Cuba, was a young child when he fled Germany with his parents during the early years of the Nazi regime; as an adult, his travels in his career took him to Europe, where he witnessed the plight of ethnic German refugees. In this book, he draws on official reports of the period and interviews with eye witnesses to describe the expulsion of the ethnic German population from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Romania, and efforts at integration and reconciliation. The author takes care to provide historical context for American readers to understand the history of German settlements in the various eastern European countries, and the official justifications for expulsion put forth by the eastern European governments. B&w historical photos and contemporary maps are included. Annotation Â©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)