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Anti-Communism in the s drew in part on established modes of thought that had existed in Germany since the Russian Revolution and that the National Social- ist regime honed to a fine edge, but the geopolitical conflict between East and West contributed as well, amplifying tales of Communist brutality. In that decade, descriptions of German suffering focused mainly on the losses inflicted by the Red Army, not on cities destroyed by American and British bombers; in a world divided between East and West, attack- ing the Soviet Union—past and present—was far easier than recounting the sins of former enemies who were now allies.

Allied bombs were face- less. Tales of Communist crimes also shaped a history of the war in which the excesses of one form of totalitarian rule were matched by the excesses of another. By pointing a finger at the Russians, West Germans could insist that totalitarianism was a univer- sal phenomenon of the twentieth century, the product of the crises of modern mass societies, not a uniquely German creation. Remembering the end of the war in this manner was part of the process by which West Germans established legitimate political identities in the aftermath of National Socialism.

The Basic Law Grundgesetz , adopted in as the constitutional foundation for the Federal Republic of Ger- many, defined the institutions that would shape a democratic political system in those parts of Germany occupied in by the French, British, and Americans.

Ungarische Nationalhymne (HU/DE Text) - Anthem of Hungary (German)

In any case, these programs were largely abandoned by the late s as the military powers that had crushed the Third Reich changed course, seeking now to accelerate the conversion of erstwhile enemies into Cold War allies. Shared values in the Federal Republic were not, however, based only on celebrations of present prosperity and predictions of uninterrupted economic growth. One of the most powerful integrative myths of the s emphasized not German well-being but German suffering; it stressed that Germany was a nation of victims, an imagined community defined by the experience of loss and displacement during the Second World War.

The stories of German victims, particularly expellees and POWs in Soviet hands, were central to shaping membership in the West German polity. Remembering what had been was of great significance for envisioning what was to come. In the s, when most West Germans spoke of victims, they were not referring to Germans who had suffered before May because of their race, religion, sexuality, or politics.

West Germans also readily acknowledged the suffer- ing of the groups at the center of this study: expellees Vertriebene and prisoners of war Kriegsgefangene. These German victims were members of the West German imagined community. These mutually exclusive categories left in place some of the same barriers that had separated Germans who were part of the National So- cialist Volksgemeinschaft from those who were excluded.

When I repeat these categories, I do so to highlight the limitations of the rhetorical con- structions of the s, fully aware that those constructions did violence to the experience of German Jews and non-Jewish Germans who were victims not of falling bombs or Soviet aggression but of the Nazi state. The suffering of all German victims was not the same. The experi- ences of POWs in the Soviet Union, for example, diverged from those of expellees in important respects.

Yet de- spite these differences, in certain respects the accounts of expellees and POWs were similar, for both groups directly confronted the onslaught of the Red Army and the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany, and had their lives permanently changed in the process. In the s, the stories of expellees and POWs in the Soviet Union became the stories of all West Germans, and the fate of these groups came to represent the fate of postwar Germany. The forced departure of expellees became a metaphor for the dis- placement of other Germans, driven from their homes by falling bombs.

It also was a constant reminder of the division of the national Heimat between east and west. West Germans condemned the detention of Ger- man soldiers by the Soviets long after most prisoners had been released in the late s, calling it ideologically charged arbitrary justice, based only on a desire for vengeance. POWs, presumed innocent, were doing penance for all Germans. When Germans talked in the s of the war in the east, they focused mainly on its end. Fifty years later, much of the story that was absent from their accounts is common knowledge to anyone who has studied the history of the Second World War in Europe.

Because not all readers of this book will be familiar with this larger context, however, it is worth sketching in the outlines here. The German attack on eastern Europe began on 1 September , when the German army marched into Poland, initiating the war. The Germans wasted no time in undertaking the systematic murder of thou- sands of Polish civilians and the persecution and forced resettlement of Polish Jews.

From the start, a racist ideology dictated strategy in the east. Poland was thus not only a staging ground for German colonization, but it was also a site of the forcible resettlement of millions of Jews into ghettos. In these cities within cities, Jewish society, politics, and culture were cut off from the rest of the world.

This city was also a central locale through which many ethnic Germans flowed, removed from Soviet-occupied Poland for resettlement in the Wartheland. Most other ghettos, including the biggest, in Warsaw, the former capital, were in what had become the General Government.

Characterized by appalling sanitary conditions, completely inadequate food supplies, and high death rates, the ghettos constituted a giant step in the German effort to eliminate Polish Jewry. This policy was previewed in the Nazi takeover in the Sudetenland, part of Czechoslovakia, seized by Germany in with the sanction of Britain, France, and Italy, and in the cre- ation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in March Else- where, once the war began, huge parts of eastern Europe fell into the Nazi orbit with relatively little expenditure of military resources or hu- man life.

Alliances were formed with right-wing governments—the pat- tern in Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, the client state carved out of what was left of Czechoslovakia and allowed nominal independence— and in Yugoslavia, the German military occupation of met with limited resistance and was even welcomed by some willing collabora- tors. There and elsewhere, any opposition to the German presence did not initially translate into significant armed resistance.

Until the summer of , fighting in the east was limited to the blitzkrieg in Poland and the rapid military sub- jugation of Yugoslavia. The combina- tion of antisocialism and racism at the core of National Socialist ideol- ogy made every Jew a likely Communist, and all other Communists most probably under the influence of the Jews.

Clearing out occupied parts of the Soviet Union was also crucial to the continued acquisition of Ger- man Lebensraum in the east. From the earliest days of the war against the Soviet Union, the Schutzstaffel SS , specially commissioned killing squads Einsatzgruppen , and some regular army troops participated in the mass slaughter of Red Army commissars, Soviet POWs, Jews, and countless other civilians. Beginning in late and , British and American fliers subjected Germany to devastating waves of aerial bombing, leveling German cities and forcing the evacuation of millions of civilians.

But it was on the eastern front that Germany definitively lost the war. The defeat at Stalingrad in February marked the moment when German citizens fully realized that the war had gone sour; for them, this decisive Soviet victory was permanently associated with massive casu- alties and the removal en masse of thousands of German soldiers to pris- oner-of-war camps Figs.

The Germans, then, faced not only Red Army soldiers but also the resistance of subju- gated eastern Europeans who sought to free themselves. An unsuccess- ful liberation attempt by democratic and Communist forces in Slovakia in late August was crushed in mid-October only after Slovak par- tisans had killed many Germans. Passing through German-occupied Poland in late , Red Army sol- diers left in their wake a record of mass rapes and devastation as they pushed on toward Berlin.

Here the standard account of the late twentieth century joins the story that West Germans did not hesitate to tell and retell fifty years earlier. But millions more fled or were driven from countries where they had constituted a minority presence for hundreds of years, long be- fore the German army and Himmler tied them to a greater Reich. By the time Germany accepted unconditional surrender on 8 May , the number of combatants and the death toll on the eastern front exceeded those on all other fronts combined. The killing fields of Sobibor, Majdanek, Treblinka, and Belzec were in the General Government; Oswiecim Auschwitz for the Germans and Chelmno Kulmhof were in the part of Poland incorpo- rated directly into the Reich and set aside for German colonization.

Meet- ing at Potsdam in July and August , the victorious Allies sanctioned the attempt by the Red Army, joined by partisans, to drive ethnic Ger- mans from eastern Europe and from parts of the Reich that were ceded to a reconfigured Poland, and they supported plans of postwar succes- sor governments to remove any remaining Germans from Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Poland. The war in the east that most West Germans remembered in the s was one of massive German loss and death. They chose not to dwell on the war in which Germans in uniform murdered millions of people, in- cluding many, many civilians, and ethnic Germans displaced indigenous populations from their homes and livelihoods in areas occupied by Ger- many.

There are many ways to study how collective memories become rooted in popular consciousness. It focuses instead on a limited number of contexts where public memory was anchored—debates in the West Ger- man parliament, media representations, the work of prominent histori- ans, and the cultural production of filmmakers—particularly important places where millions of West Germans could hear stories of their past. Some individual memories became part of this na- tional narrative, accepted by most West Germans. For other memories, particularly those of German Jews and others persecuted by the Nazi state, the audience was extremely limited.

In the public memory of the s, only a handful of Germans ap- peared as perpetrators, the overwhelming majority were victims, and no one was both: guilt and innocence were mutually exclusive categories. The dominant forms of public memory left little space for reflecting on the suffering Germans had caused others. At the levels of representation that this book explores, uncomplicated morality tales in which a few Nazis had brought suffering to everyone— Jews, Germans, other Europeans—and in which Germans had survived Communist brutality defined a usable past for the Federal Republic.

Social policy debates over compensation for victims of the war in the years —53, the first electoral period of the West German parliament Bundestag , were saturated with memories of the past. The conviction that expellees and POWs had every right to be compensated for their losses unified a political spectrum otherwise deeply divided between ruling Christian Democrats and opposition So- cialists.

The rhetoric of German victimization knew no left or right. Compensating victims also involved acknowledging their losses as part of an official historical chronicle. This book looks at how this medium framed the return of the last POWs from the Soviet Union in the fall of , transforming private homecomings into a cel- ebration of national unity. This book reviews these various representations of that past. In examining the ways in which West Germans remembered the Second World War and National Socialism in the late s and s, this book takes issue with the widely held thesis that after the war the citizens of the Federal Republic largely avoided all memories of the years of Nazi rule.

This position has a long and distinguished lineage. West Germans are depicted as repressing or deny- ing their responsibility for the triumph of National Socialism and the horrors that the Nazi regime inflicted. The s emerge as a decade of historical silence and willing forgetfulness before an explosion of criti- cal self-examination beginning in the late s. A deliberate self-distancing from National Socialism was essential for moving beyond painful mem- ories and creating a unified, democratic Federal Republic. Democratic renewal went hand in hand with silence and the forgetting of a dark past.

Too much memory would undermine a still fragile popular psyche. Only re- cently has a closer, critical look at the early history of the Federal Re- public revealed that in the s West Germans were neither disabled by their inability to mourn or their failure to demolish capitalism nor in- tentionally silent about National Socialism in order to get on with post- war reconstruction and democratic reeducation.

West German discussions of the meaning and significance of resistance focused not on the opposition of Communists, a legacy claimed by those other Germans across the border in the East, but on the assassination attempt on Hitler of 20 July , and on groups with no specific political affiliation like the White Rose. This version of the last years of the war provided proof that Germans had demonstrated their eagerness to liberate themselves from the Nazi yoke well before they were liberated by the Allies. For millions of evacuees, driven from their homes by falling bombs, accounting for the past involved lobbying for victim status and demanding state assistance to gain new housing and a fresh start.

As genera- tional conflicts emerged by the mids, public concern about disaf- fected youth was colored by a past in which discontent had steered young people to the extremist solutions offered by National Socialism and Com- munism. The past loomed large in all discussions of these key social policy questions. This has been demonstrated in important recent works by Pertti Ahonen, who describes the contin- uing influence of expellee organizations on West German foreign pol- icy,59 and Frank Biess, who offers an insightful account of the social and political reintegration of returning POWs in East and West Germany.

Shifting the focus from what West Germans should have remembered or discussed—the critical mode of Adorno and the Mitscherlichs—to what they did remember reveals that a selective past, a past of German suf- fering, was in fact ubiquitous in the s. East Germans, like West Germans, confronted a task of crafting integrative founding myths and incorporating into a new nation a population that had enthusiastically supported National So- cialism.

In the German Democratic Republic, the war in the east was a war of liberation in which a triumphant Red Army destroyed not German home- lands but German fascism; rather than clearing eastern Europe of Ger- mans, it cleared the way for socialism. Soviets were saviors, not terror- ists; they did not initiate, but ended, suffering. In the view of the East German state, German POWs in the Soviet Union were the beneficiaries of an antifascist education, and the most attentive students were immediately qualified for jobs building an an- tifascist Germany. Just as Germans, East and West, pursued different paths of po- litical and economic reconstruction after the war, so too did they con- struct different versions of the past.

Although the primary concern of this study is to illuminate how West Germans remembered key parts of the Second World War in the s, it also offers a perspective on the politics of commemoration in the decades that followed. Memories of German victimization, dominant in the s, were challenged by ac- counts in which Nazi crimes came to the fore. Seen against the background of certain forms of public memory in the s, the themes of German victimization that surfaced in the s were not particularly novel; rather, they represented the forceful return of what had never been completely repressed.

The German search for a usable past is not at an end. This book adds to this agenda the need for a clearer understanding of how Ger- mans transformed their pasts into public memory in the early history of the Federal Republic. In his opening address to the newly elected West German parliament in September , Chancellor Konrad Adenauer looked ahead to the fu- ture, but he did not avoid the past of National Socialism and the Second World War.

His allusions to the anti-Semitic crimes of Nazi Germany were made in the context of a far more detailed and explicit reckoning of non-Jewish victims of the war. By the late s, the western Allies had released all the German soldiers they had taken captive during the war; thus, POWs not accounted for were most likely in the Soviet Union. Nor should West Germans forget those Germans still held against their will by Communist governments in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and East Prussia, now under Soviet control. Forcefully separated from their homes and possessions, they desperately needed immediate assistance to compensate them for their losses and in- tegrate them into West German society Fig.

He emphasized that social policies to relieve the dire circumstances of the victims of Communist oppression, now at home in the Federal Re- public, depended on economic reconstruction and growth. In the first elec- toral session of the Bundestag —53 , West German politicians con- fronted the claims of both the victims of National Socialism and the victims of German defeat on the eastern front. Ghosts of these pasts, some Jewish, some German, often seemed to hover simultaneously in the halls of parliament, vying for recognition.

Deeply divided over compensation payments for Jews and others persecuted by the Nazis, West Germans were ultimately led by a resolute chancellor to a reparations settlement with the state of Israel. When it came to addressing their own suffering, however, West Germans revealed no similar ambivalence. Acknowledg- ment of their losses unified West Germans; it became central to defining the Federal Republic as a nation of victims. A comparison of public pol- icy debates over reparations for victims of Nazi persecution and mea- sures to assist expellees and returning POWs reveals much about how West Germans viewed their responsibility for the atrocities of the Third Reich and how they measured their losses.

In its early history, the West German parliament did not avoid the past; rather, it drew up balance sheets, calculated suffering, and, by accounting for the past, sought to put parts of that past to rest, while incorporating other parts into the foundations of the Federal Republic.

In , Adenauer knew that he faced a Bundestag deeply divided along political lines.

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The West German party, ultimately legally banned in , could therefore easily be dismissed as the repre- sentative of precisely those forces of totalitarian repression that reigned supreme in the Soviet Union. First arrested in July , he had spent nearly a decade in Nazi concentration camps, including almost eight years in Dachau. To bring home this message, British and American forces of occupation confronted Ger- mans with graphic representations of the evils committed by the National Socialist regime. And the Allies left little doubt that constructing a postwar German democracy would be possible only if Germany was rid once and for all of its military traditions.

Germans claimed that they could not be collec- tively guilty for crimes of which they were ignorant. The Allied empha- sis on German complicity implied possibilities for resistance that simply did not exist, and denied the realities of life in a terrorist state run by madmen. By the late s, the western Allies were inclined to agree. Because of the growing tensions of the Cold War, they now abandoned the pur- suit of a nation of potential war criminals, seeking instead to anchor re- habilitated West Germans in a western alliance.

True National Social- ist believers had no place in a western military alliance, but the Allies were now willing to accept that most West Germans did not fall into that category. Acknowledging a past in which some Germans had been perpetrators of horrifying crimes was a prerequisite for the West German state to win recognition as a sover- eign nation. In September , Adenauer sketched a way for West Germans to admit that crimes had taken place without pointing fingers at any specific criminals.

Unspeakable crimes have been committed in the name of the German people, calling for moral and material indem- nity. There were many among the German people who showed their readiness to help their fellow citizens at their own peril for religious reasons, because of a trou- bled conscience, out of shame at the disgrace of the German name. There is much evidence that the chancellor wanted to convince the Allies that Germany was will- ing to acknowledge past crimes in order to gain full acceptance as an equal, autonomous partner in the postwar western alliance.


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In other ac- counts, and in his own recollections, Adenauer acted as he did on the basis of deeply held moral convictions, not as a response to Allied ex- pectations and pressure. Few other West Germans applauded the overture to Israel. A survey conducted in the Federal Republic by the U. In the final parliamentary debates over ratification of the treaty with Israel, he met with the steadfast in- transigence of the German Party DP , a relatively small political group- ing on the extreme right wing; of the German Communists, at the other end of the spectrum; and of some members of the CDU and CSU, the bases of his own ruling coalition.

Others, though os- tensibly in favor of victim compensation, opposed a collective settlement and fretted that a German-Israeli reconciliation would alienate potential German allies among Arab League member states. The KPD was also in the opposition, maintaining that the only true beneficiaries of reparations in Israel would be capitalists and financiers. Social Democrats, at odds with the Chris- tian Democratic chancellor on many other issues in the early s, now joined with him to ratify the treaty with Israel.

In the same year that it ratified the treaty with Israel, the West German parliament approved legislation that built on state initiatives, particularly in the American zone of occupation, and established a national framework for addressing the claims of these other victims of the Nazis. Legislation ultimately restricted legitimate victims to those who could document that their race or beliefs had caused their suffering and who lived in the Federal Republic at the end of or who had been deported by the Nazis or emigrated after but could prove residence within the borders of the German Reich.

Citizens of other nations who had returned to their homes—for example, Poles and Soviets, who had made up most of the slave labor force in Germany during the war—were ineligible; their claims for compensation could be processed only via national demands for reparations. Indeed, in con- sidering appeals to suspend the tremendously expanded bases for crimi- nal prosecution of male homosexuality introduced by the Nazis, the Fed- eral Constitutional Court Bundesverfassungsgericht concluded that the revised law in no way violated the West German constitution or under- mined the foundations of a democratic state.

So-called asocials, a flexible designation easily stretched by the Nazis to include anyone who did not conform to the racial, political, sexual, and moral criteria of the Third Reich, also did not qualify for compen- sation. Some who had resisted the regime and were persecuted on political grounds were recognized as vic- tims, but Communists who had opposed the Nazis were not eligible if they were suspected of supporting another system of totalitarian rule in the present.

There was also virtually no discussion of the one crime of National Socialism of which few Germans could have been ignorant: the involuntary importation from eastern Europe and the Soviet Union of workers, who were forced to labor for farmers and fac- tory owners in Germany and in other areas of eastern Europe occupied by the Nazis. Of these, 22, were Russians. Only 1, were Germans, and of these, only were political prisoners. Most West Germans did not recognize the processes by which social marginalization had paved the way to mass extermina- tion.

Indeed, West Germans defined racialism more narrowly than had the Nazis. In the casuistic thinking of the fifties, while Jews were perse- cuted because of their race, Poles were persecuted because of their na- tionality, not because the Nazis considered them to be racially inferior. The Union of Those Persecuted by National Socialism Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Nazi-Regimes , an organization created in the late s to represent all victim interests, was quickly shoved to the margins because it was dominated by Communists, and no other or- ganization emerged to take its place.

In addition to acknowledging at least some responsibility for the crimes of National Socialism, they made the past part of the West German present in the years — Debates over these initiatives, however, did little to illuminate the origins of Na- tional Socialism or to locate the Nazi state within the context of mod- ern German history. Rather, they were aimed squarely at sealing off the past, prematurely closing a chapter that was defined as having started with mass extermination and ended in May Still, particularly in the first four years of its existence, the West German parliament and Ade- nauer, backed by the Social Democrats, sought to ensure that West Ger- mans did not entirely forget, avoid, or repress Nazi crimes.

However un- satisfactory and incomplete their attempts to confront that past, the federal government and a majority of the West German elected repre- sentatives did not deny the weighty legacy of Nazi terrorism or the at- tempt to exterminate all European Jews. Establishing moral accountability made it possible for many West Germans to hope that the ledger could now be closed once and for all.

For us Germans, less easily surmounted than the walls of an oriental ghetto were the walls of hate, scorn, and rejection that had already been built around us during the war and that still held us cap- tive after the war. Germans had heard horrifying tales of German victimization and Soviet barbarism since the last years of the war.

The message was clear: Whoever did not fight to the finish would face a similar fate. By means of such arguments, Jews were transformed into one group of victims among many. On the agenda of the same session in which Bundestag delegates debated the final form of the treaty with Israel were initiatives to address the problems of those fleeing from the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany and those expelled from eastern Europe. However, if Jews, expellees, and German POWs were equal at the level of rhetoric, the victims of National Socialism remained ghosts lacking faces, families, names, identities, or a powerful political presence.

Rep- resented by others, they spoke for themselves only seldom. German vic- tims, in contrast, lived, breathed, organized, demanded recognition, and delivered speeches from the floor of parliament. What Germans had inflicted on others remained abstract and remote; what Germans had suf- fered was described in vivid detail and granted a place of prominence in the public sphere. Expellees and POWs detained by the Soviets were both powerful sym- bols of the outcome of the war in the east, but they carried their suffer- ing into West Germany in different ways.

In the immediate postwar pe- riod, the flood of some eight million expellees into the western zones of occupation caused enormous difficulties and often led to resentment and bitterness on the part of the local population. Germans barely able to meet their own needs as they emerged from the devastation and priva- tion of the war were now expected to find room for the citizens of the Thousand Year Reich from eastern Europe and eastern Germany. Allied officials, concerned that expellee organizations might provide a locus for right-wing irredentist politics, forbade ethnic Germans from creating explicitly political bodies.

By the late s, however, a network of groups had emerged, some organized by occupation, some by place of origin, some for the defense of cultural interests, some affiliated with churches. Such ostensibly apolitical organizations proved fully capable of representing quite political interests.

Regional organizations, Landsmannschaften, each with its own press organ and institutional structure, proliferated at a star- tlingly rapid rate, unifying in national coalitions and claiming between one and two million members by the early s. In the meantime, expellee organizations and their political representatives called for the government at both the national and regional levels to do whatever was necessary to enable their constituents to start over in West Germany. Their demands included the international recognition of the Munich treaty of and the inclusion of part of postwar Czechoslovakia in postwar Germany.

However, they were also increasingly unwilling to challenge directly the Cold War status quo. As for meeting the material needs of ex- pellees, this was the responsibility of the state that had started the war, not the states that had ended it, and by the early s the U. High Commissioner John McCloy also noted that in an expanding economy, expellees represented an advantage, not a liability. If the geopolitical demands of expellees won little support outside the Federal Republic, at home they became set pieces in a foreign policy reper- toire that was crafted for domestic consumption and that underscored the anti-Communist consensus at the heart of West German politics.

Annual days to commemorate the lost Heimat and reunions spon- sored by regional organizations brought together hundreds of thousands of eastern European Germans in traditional costumes, nostalgically in- voking the past Fig. Such events also created a platform for broad- casting serious foreign policy pronouncements. By participating in the annual meetings, government ministers and political leaders lent interest group organizations credibility and le- gitimacy, hoping that their reward would be the votes of expellees. Seeking just compensation for those whose return was delayed by a stay behind barbed wire, organized POWs also aggressively demanded the homecoming of comrades still in Soviet hands.

Soviet unwillingness to release all remaining German soldiers became a particularly power- ful symbol of Communist brutality. Lacking a full reckoning of the dead and missing in action, the West German state responded angrily that the numbers did not add up; still unaccounted for were over a million Germans who had gone to Russia and not returned Fig. However, official concerns about those German soldiers still behind the iron curtain were not only for domestic consumption. Although the British and American govern- ments responded with indifference to West German demands that they help ease the plight of expellees in the postwar Federal Republic, they showed no reluctance to champion the cause of POWs victimized by Communists, enthusiastically transforming German concerns into an international affair.

Embracing the cause of West Germans who sought the release of all POWs from the last war also paralleled British and American pressures to ensure that chastened, rehabilitated Germans would once again take up arms if called on to fight the next. In , Dwight D. In an official statement, hammered out by West German representatives and the U.

Just as they had paved streets to rebuild a war-torn Soviet Union, they could also pave the way for the Federal Republic to enter the United Nations, where, with Amer- ican and British sponsorship, West Germans charged the Soviets with ly- ing and withholding information. State Department and the West German govern- ment clearly understood that by focusing on the mistreatment of Ger- man POWs by the Soviets, it would be possible to push the Federal Republic further westward.

As an official of the U. These figures did not include the un- told number of ethnic Germans—estimated to be as high as ,— transported against their will to do forced labor in the Soviet Union at the end of the war and never heard from again. Within the Foreign Office, no one denied that these published figures were exaggerated; in the ab- sence of accurate figures of wartime casualties, all those missing in ac- tion on the eastern front could be counted as potential Soviet prisoners.

By the spring of , reliable information existed for only about 9, POWs who still corresponded with relatives in the Federal Republic, a figure close to the numbers reported by the Soviets. However, govern- ment officials justified using the high-end estimate in public pronounce- ments by alleging that many POWs might be denied the opportunity to write home.

As a symbol of solidarity, introduced by the West Berlin mayor, Ernst Reuter, West Germans displayed green can- dles, after the custom of fishermen who lit candles on the shore during storms, beacons signaling the way home for sailors in distress Fig. Symbolically for all Germans, these heroes were offering reparations to the Soviet Union. By the early s, those call- ing for their release insisted that the POWs had long since squared ac- counts; the punishment no longer fit the crime. They were also responding to their colleagues on the floor of the Bundestag.

Their private stories profoundly shaped the agenda of pub- lic policy. Accounting for the Past Legislative initiatives to compensate German victims allowed all po- litical parties to acknowledge German loss and sacrifice. Most notably, the British and Americans had acquiesced to Soviet demands—outlined at Teheran, specified at Yalta, finalized at Potsdam—that they occupy eastern Europe and expel Germans from their historic homelands.

National Socialism had created count- less victims, of whom many were Germans. The lan- guage of millions was a powerful moral currency. Indeed, debates over measures to meet the needs of expellees and returning POWs emphasized how the suffering of these groups represented a collective penance that allowed West Germans to close the moral ledger in the black.

With extraordinary energy and thoroughness, the Bundestag took up measures to meet the needs of German victims, particularly those ex- pelled from eastern Europe or, as prisoners of war, prevented from re- turning home until well after the end of hostilities and disadvantaged by their lengthy separation from work and family. Before , mea- sures to assist expellees and returning POWs were administered in each of the zones of western Allied occupation by individual state govern- ments, charitable organizations based in the churches, and the Red Cross.

Combined with other measures to provide immediate assistance introduced in , this law resulted in payments of nearly twenty-seven billion marks by , 64 percent of which went to ex- pellees. In the period —56, other programs designed to provide former POWs with medical care, occupational training, and housing assistance amounted to over seven hundred million marks. Despite the broad consensus favoring just compensation for return- ing POWs and victims of the expulsion, not all measures sailed effort- lessly through the Bundestag.

Most programs were designed to assist them in making a fresh start, not to restore the social status that they had lost or, in the case of POWs, compensate them for the reparations they had delivered to the So- viets. Discontent did not translate into massive political opposition to the central government, as had been the case in Weimar, nor did POWs or veterans move far to the right as they had in the s. Although its very existence forced all other parties to compete more vigorously for the votes of expellees, the BHE was ultimately unable to attract a constituency of its own and rapidly declined in significance.

Although in the late s currency reform had disastrous consequences for expellees and POWs, resulting in high unemployment and price increases that were not matched by in- creased public welfare allowances, by the early s West Germany had entered a phase of rapid economic expansion. What had seemed like a tremen- dous liability in the late s had become an enormous resource.

Eco- nomic historians continue to debate the impact of the huge postwar population migration on the performance of the West German economy, but there is little doubt that the economic problems of those groups most forcefully displaced by the war diminished as the postwar economy ex- panded. In addition, unlike Weimar, the Bonn government and the Bundestag consistently allowed those most prone to political disaffection an active role in defining solutions for their own problems and ensured that every- one achieved at least something of what they were after.

Self-defined vic- tims participated in a process of consensus building for which the Weimar precedent offered a negative example; this process served a pow- erful integrative function and undermined the appeal of special-interest parties. The exhaustive public discussion of the needs and rights of expellees and POWs granted them a particularly important role in defining a post- war social contract based on the condemnation of all variants of au- thoritarian rule.

Meeting the just demands of these groups was essential for the do- mestic social stability that would allow West Germany to serve as the first line of defense against potential Communist expansion westward. Neither National Socialist nor Communist, the Federal Republic was also not American, British, or French; the West German government won acceptance for its initiatives to compensate expellees and returning POWs by stressing that these programs were singularly German, grounded in the best tradition of the German social welfare system and correcting the punitive policies imposed by the Allies in the years of postwar occupa- tion.

Postwar debates over shared fates circumscribed a community of suf- fering and empathy among Germans, joined by the common project of distributing the costs of the war. Defining the just claims and rights to entitlement of some and the moral obligations of others was part of es- tablishing the bases for social solidarity in West Germany. All major political parties could agree on this mode for confronting the past, because it was ostensibly outside the arena of party-political wrangling.

To be sure, this vision of the past was highly political. In June a seamstress, Anna Schwartz, recorded her memories of the end of the war in Danzig, the city that Hitler had incorporated into the Reich when he invaded Poland in September This is what Schwartz recalled: For Schwartz, German defeat came before the official surrender. In late March , the Russians marched into Danzig, setting the city on fire.

Falling bombs drove Schwartz and her neighbors into air raid shelters, from which Russian voices, promising freedom and security, later beck- oned them if they would surrender. Distrusting these assurances, Schwartz unsuccessfully sought a place on one of the last boats leaving the port city to cross the Baltic bound for northern Germany, though Russian fighter bombers made this a perilous and uncertain escape route as well. Schwartz compared her fate with that of German soldiers, holding out until the end and facing imprisonment or death. On March 27 Soviet soldiers entered the city. Other women also lost their honor, and Schwartz re-.

By evening, Schwartz found herself together with many other Germans as a prisoner of the Red Army, under guard on a large farm. Here she faced interrogation about her party loyalties and occupation. Marched twenty-two kilometers daily to work on a farm outside Danzig, she re- turned to more nightly questioning. The sound of gunshots in the dis- tance indicated that some Germans were receiving death sentences on the spot.

Schwartz speculated that local Poles had betrayed them. Good Friday was a particularly vivid memory for Schwartz. She could still picture the four hundred women with her in the cold stalls, where humans had replaced livestock. Denied food or drink, the women also had no protection from the chilly winds that raced through the bro- ken windows of the barn.

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Mothers, separated from their children, cried. As I heard later, they had stood there for days, forbidden from returning to their homes. In front of the houses, their goods were strewn, and now and again we saw a crazed man or woman running through the streets. Here she was finally allowed to bathe, but only in large common showers, where she was ogled and ridiculed by her Russian guards.

Graudenz was a way station en route to forced labor in Siberia, a des- tination reached after an eighteen-day train ride in livestock cars into which Schwartz was crammed together with others from West Prussia, East Prussia, and Pomerania. Her new home was a camp surrounded by a two-meter-high barbed wire fence with a watchtower at each corner. Now she worked daily on the construction of a rail line that was to connect two mines. She was next sent to a nearby collective farm, where she and her co-workers lived in tents.

When most of the German labor force moved back to the camp in November, Schwartz stayed on, one of seven women who spent the winter on the collective farm. In the spring she returned to the camp to discover a new, harsher reg- imen that left inmates standing daily for endless roll calls. She estimated that meanwhile more than a thousand Germans had died in the camp. Assigned again to an agricultural work detail, Schwartz also practiced her trade, sewing for the Soviet officers, their wives, and girlfriends.

Three years of hard labor left Schwartz indifferent, moody, irritable, exhausted, and sullen. But news finally came of her imminent release and return home together with the sick, invalids, and all other women over thirty. The previous years had left her grateful to the Soviet leader for nothing. At most, they now served to store grain or house livestock. Where urban landscapes were restored in Minsk and Smolensk, Schwartz recognized the efforts of German prisoners of war, assigned to rebuild what the German army had destroyed.

We had not come home, but we had arrived in the Fatherland. At the end of the war, the Red Army drove millions of Germans westward from their homes in eastern Europe, and thousands more were deported eastward to forced labor in the Soviet Union. Like Schwartz, they suffered incal- culable losses, and many provided detailed accounts of what they had endured. In this chapter, I do not seek to reconstruct their experiences or to provide a social his- tory of the expulsion. These compilations of individual testimonies were complemented by three full-length diaries.

In the s, historians were not alone in their attempt to provide reli- able, scholarly accounts of the expulsion. Without denying the strains generated by the confrontation of eastern and western Germans, Lemberg empha- sized that the new whole was bigger than the sum of its parts. Social scientists addressed the present and analyzed the experience of expellees upon their arrival in the Federal Republic.

Sociologists left little room for expellees to describe their own circumstances; for the most part, the expellee appeared in their studies as an abstract object of analysis. A Nazi party member since , he taught and lived in that city until he and his family fled the approaching Red Army in December He was fascinated by the history of Germans in West Prussia, and the scholarly work that qualified him for the professorship focused on that part of the world. After , his methodological reflections on how to doc- ument the history of one German defeat could be transferred to his study of another.

Although he had converted from Judaism to Protestantism before the First World War, served in the war, and saw himself as a loyal, patriotic German, particularly concerned to establish the significance of German cultural contributions in eastern Europe, he was removed from his position in and barred from teaching altogether a year later.

He eventually emigrated to the United States, where he taught first at Brown, then at the University of Chicago. Through these two struc- tures, he exercised a significant influence on the writing of twentieth- century German history in the Federal Republic. The Documentation amassed an impressive mound of primary sources. These volumes thus offered some of the earliest systematic attempts by West Germans not only to document the history of the expulsion but also to describe the policies of German occupation in eastern Europe.

At the heart of the project were over seven hundred personal testi- monies and eyewitness accounts, some complete, some extensively ex- cerpted. Together with brief editorial introductions and a range of official government documents, the volumes on individual regions totaled more than 4, densely printed pages. Assembling documentary sources that would allow historians to write German history since was particularly difficult. The Institute for Contemporary His- tory represented one attempt to address this problem, through its col- lecting of documentary materials relevant to the analysis of the recent past.

In addition, historians must be willing to depart from the tradi- tional conception that the only legitimate sources were those authored by state agencies and deposited in official archives.


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The scholarly project to document the expulsion represented an attempt to assemble sources of a different sort. Rothfels acknowledged that historians who sought to explain events from which they had so little distance faced a real chal- lenge. The process was made even more difficult because many of those testifying recorded their memories only years af- ter the events they documented. Schieder, who was directly involved in virtually all aspects of the project, from securing a typewriter to hiring secretarial help, also specified the criteria to be applied in determining the reliability of such documentary accounts.

East German historians charged that the project represented little more than an extension of Cold War anti-Communism, while expellee inter- est groups grumbled that the editorial staff was too soft, not hard, on Communism. Even though the project had relied heavily on interest groups to collect their sources, these organizations claimed that the ed- itors had ultimately been unwilling to portray faithfully the true extent of Communist atrocities or to consult adequately with the real experts, most notably interest group leaders who had suffered personally from the expulsion.

The thick volumes edited by Schieder and his colleagues overflowed with countless other individual tales of terror. Near the end of the war, Herr O. The prejudice of Communists against Germans was fueled, the edi- tors explained, not only by dramatic cultural and racial differences but also by ideology.

It is thus understandable that they cannot acknowledge or respect the property of others. Be- cause many men were dead or, still in uniform, separated from their homes in the last months of the war, stories of the German confronta- tion with the Red Army often told of women left to fend for themselves, guarded only by old men and boys mustered at the last minute into lo- cal defense militias Volkssturm.

When women crossed paths with German soldiers in retreat, they realized that they shared a common fate; this war had erased the lines between bat- tlefront and homefront. The scars of war that women bore, however, were the scars of rape by Red Army soldiers. Frau G. Herr A. According to his account, these soldiers tore children from the arms of women and girls and car- ried women off and raped them at gunpoint. Liberation came not from Russians but from an SS division that saved the honor of German women by recapturing his village.

Their faces did not move, only the eyes were alive, and I will never forget that, how unbelievably wild they looked. Yes, they even assaulted children, animals, and old people. I had nothing left to lose. In the western zones of occupation immediately following the war, observers often claimed difficulty in locating the boundaries that sepa- rated rape, prostitution, and fraternization with the victorious Allies.

Sympathy for the rape victims of British, French, and American soldiers blurred with suspicion that women had succumbed to blandishments and material benefits offered by the victors. I was ashamed.

Georg Thyssen | David R. L. Litchfield

Here, German women were victims, plain and simple. Valiant martyrs, not suspect fraternizers, they told tales of survival that described the brutality of war as dramatically as did the stories of men who had experienced another war at the front. When the Germans heard a shot fired they feared the worst, but after thirty minutes they were called back into the room. The women were still alive, but Frau I. During this time, I had three Russians. In the Schieder documentation, other instruments of violence and ter- ror joined rape to remind Germans of their complete subordination to the victor.

Other signs of a world turned upside down were abundant. Menial workers were now estate managers. Who can empathize with this feeling? Truly, only the person who throughout all these months has gone with us through this hell, which we have now escaped. He was allowed to live entirely alone with the animals and his par- ents in the stall, and he had as a bed his own manger while we were packed in like sardines into the stalls and lay on the ground. Still unaware of the Potsdam agreement in the fall of , Frau I.

By the time she recorded these memories, Frau I. They had learned this lesson while Roosevelt sat with Stalin at Yalta and Truman sealed the fate of eastern Europe at Potsdam. The editors of individual volumes in the documentation joined this anti- Communist chorus, offering additional insights from their historical per- spective. In eastern Europe, they explained, Communism mixed with in- digenous histories and traditions in particularly terrifying combinations.

The superimposition of Soviet Marxism on Russian backwardness and a completely non-Western worldview had disastrous consequences; as Herr H. The worst began just as national conflicts ceased. Freedom was only freedom to be subjected to the whim of the Red Army and local partisans. Few expellees reflected—or were asked by the editors to reflect—more than fleetingly on their relationship to a past that predated their own suffering. When eyewitnesses did evoke other memories of eastern Eu- rope, it was to underscore themes that Schieder had developed in his own scholarship in the s: the political, economic, intellectual, and social contributions that Germans had made to central Europe.

War Stories

This idea, however, was rejected by the Ministry of Expellees, on the grounds that comparisons would make it impossible to claim the singularity of the expulsion. The books that did appear contained little evidence of German mis- deeds. For example, neither eyewitnesses nor the editors commented on the exploitation of other nationalities as forced laborers by Germans. In these dark hours, everyone was just German, but it was unfortunately too late. The expellees were thus victims twice over, prey first to scheming Nazis, then to marauding Communists. In the testimonies, Soviets, Czechs, Poles, Hungarians, Yugoslavs, Ro- manians, and—by implication—Americans and the British, who imme- diately after the war had judged all Germans equally complicitous, mis- takenly believed that all Nazis were bad.

Expellees emphasized that membership in the League of German Girls, for example, did not imply a wholehearted embrace of Nazi ideology, and that German men were unwilling and in some cases unsuspecting last-minute conscripts into the Waffen-SS. Who was a fascist? His parents have moved away. His brother was in the German army. He once said: What will become of us Germans?

He ate and drank together with murderers. I sometimes in- vited the local commandant to eat with me. A rare exception to this rule was the testimony of Herr H. In his testimony, Herr H. Hopes for a better future were short-lived, however, for Soviet rule was quickly re- placed by the reign of Polish Communists. Although Herr H. Herr H. Elsewhere in the documentation, although Jews did not speak directly, they certainly occupied German memories. Those who collapsed were shot and left lying on the ground.

The stripes on what tat- tered clothing remained signaled that these were victims of concentra- tion camps. In graphic terms M. Both she and Adenauer were ready to admit that atonement was essential for crimes that other Germans had committed; neither saw that they shared any responsibility for those crimes. In other German memories, neither Israelis nor Russians nor Poles but eastern European Jews themselves determined the terms of atonement.

In some reports, Jews appeared not in striped rags but Red Army uni- forms, viciously leading interrogations or ruling over the camps estab- lished for ethnic Germans as they awaited deportation to the Soviet Union or transport to western Germany. The head of all internment camps for Germans in the area after the war, this banker turned soldier, Kreal claimed, had survived under the Nazis because of his Christian wife, and he had found employment working in the agency that distributed seized Jewish property.

Frau E. However, the editors of the Schieder docu- mentation corroborated Frau E. It would have been pos- sible to make similar pictures in our camp as well. Some of the accounts provided in the documentation project, recorded even as German reparations to Israel filled newspaper headlines, stated the overwhelming similarity of the treatment of all victims and the moral equivalence of their suffering even more explicitly. Loaded onto a train, they rode a short ways to the edge of a forest, where some fifteen of the strongest men were given shovels and told to dig a trench.

When they had completed their work, the remaining forty-five men were or- dered out of the train, and immediately recognized that they were be- ing marched to a mass grave. Now the killing squads spoke Russian or another eastern Euro- pean language; now the God defiled was Christian, not Jewish. Testimony of starvation so severe that it left its victims waiting only for death came from a German, not a Jewish, survivor. The men were sent to another chamber, and on the left, a bright fire burned.

On the wall, there were pipes, and the fumes from this fire came into our chamber. Everyone started coughing. We thought we would suffocate. All of a sudden, the door opened, and they hauled me out. They gave emphasis to their demand by not performing any more songs for over a year at penitiential processions or in church.

Ladin Kirchensinger in Enneberg handed down and practiced a collection of mainly German songs until after the First World War. German hymns with a Lutheran stamp were also popular in Kaltern. Judicial administrators Pfleger and judges had to hand in written copies of sacred songs to Innsbruck for assessment. Several of the songs then submitted, for instance by the judge of Villanders, were confiscated. In Emperor Leopold summoned the bishops to have new hymns written for devotions.

For the course of the Church year, it contained pleasing settings of four-part songs with organ accompaniment that were easy to perform. The decline of church music in the 19th century had been preceded by a long prime. This is documented for instance by the inventories of musical instruments and written and printed music of the parish churches.

A list dating from of the printed music used at the parish church in Hall enumerates 98 items. The main repertoire was provided by Johann Stadlmayr. Besides works by other composers belonging to the cultural circles of Hall and Innsbruck, such as Ambrosius Reiner and Georg Piscator , there were several by others from monasteries and aristocratic and royal residences in southern German regions, as well as by many Italians, such as Giovanni Battista Buonamente, Ercole Porta, Giovanni Ceresini, Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Antonio Rigatti, Lodovico Grossi Viadana.

New acquisitions in the 18th century further increased the proportion of south German composers represented. Later lists of written and printed music dating from and demonstrate that church music in Meran continued to be oriented on contemporary musical production. They were often adapted to the respective capacity for performance, that is, simplified to facilitate playing, given different instrumentation, or shortened. In Deutschnofen in the 19th century one could also hear pieces by the local organist Paul Prantner at divine services, as well as parodies of Mozart, Rossini and Weber operas.

These were probably all arrangements of operas and hence ultimately a stumbling block to adherents of the Cecilian movement. Usually the choirmasters Chorregenten and organists saw to the acquisition of new music, either by copying it themselves or purchasing it. Its objective was to improve church music in the province. As the head of the society that was later transferred to Bozen , Alois Rieder had considerable influence on church music in the Tyrol. His easily realised compositions attracted attention in Cecilian circles beyond the Tyrol.

When Ignaz Martin Mitterer was the director of the cathedral music in Brixen the general meeting of the General German Society of St Cecilia was held there in With the Brixen cathedral choir he brought about a flowering of a cappella music and abolished the works of Viennese classicism as well as the female voices.

As a composer however, he also composed masses with instrumental music, as did Zangl. He continued to tolerate the Kirchensinger in rural areas and thus represented the moderate line of Cecilianism. The reform of church music was a major concern at the Brixen Synod of The new hymnbook was now also to give new impetus to the singing of the congregation Volksgesang and to standardize it in all parishes throughout the diocese. At that time the diocese had already wanted to issue a Volksgesangbuch , standardized for the whole bishopric, to improve church singing.

The councilor of the consistory, music pedagogue and composer Josef Alois Ladurner was given the job of reviewing the pieces sent in. A brother of the pianist and composer Ignaz Anton Ladurner working in Paris, Josef had studied counterpoint in Munich under Josef Graetz besides philosophy and theology. The latter, who had striven for a kind of church music ennobled by simplicity long before the Cecilians, was the most sought-after teacher of composition in Munich. He may have been the source of the ideas of reform coming up in Josef Alois Ladurner — and hence in the diocesan authorities.

Most of the hymns sent in came from the deaneries of Bruneck and Stilfes, usually with the text alone because no one was able to write down the melodies. They stemmed from the repertoire of the Kirchensinger and from manuscript copies of printed hymnbooks such as Der singende Christ by Wilhelm Hausen SJ. The printing of the new hymnbook never took place. Their activities, depending on the abilities of their executives and members, comprised regional meetings of the society, church music productions that served as guidelines, and pedagogical activities.

A society library in Bruneck provided printed music listed in the catalog of the Society of St Cecilia. Ratschings , too, had a singing school for a while. The parish choir of Sterzing , in , confined itself to performing mass with vocal music at Advent and Lent. Magnus [ Ortwein ] in charge. I have never heard plainsong so subtly nuanced with the most detailed dynamics, not even in Regensburg. He also gave music lessons at the Benedictine secondary school in Meran, e. The faithful had been given textbooks with German translations in order to facilitate comprehension.

Flaurling , Rum , Stans , Kufstein , Schattwald and others were venues of Cecilian church music in those days. In the second half of the 17th century a Corpus Christi procession with 67 tableaux vivants took place in Bozen. They were accompanied by the usual musicians, with an additional two trumpeters and one timpanist escorting eight hussars.

Several groups of two trumpeters and one timpanist each completed the Bible scenes staged in Innsbruck in , in particular those showing the Three Magi and King Herod. The church provost of Partschins ordered two violinists for the Feast of Corpus Christi in Pipe Schwegelpfeifer and tabor players joined the procession in Deutschnofen in , with a reed-organ presumably serving to accompany the singers.

Religious brotherhoods celebrated their commemoration days with processions of their own. It was popular to insert sung rhymes instead of the decades of Aves in the devotions of the Rosary. Dramatic scenes with antiphonal choral singing around the carved figure of Christ riding the female donkey were staged in the collegiate church on the occasion. In the 19th century the choirboys went through Innichen after the service with the figure of Christ on the donkey, which had a slit where people could drop in money for them.

The people were often presented Passion scenes in processions during Holy Week, for example on Good Friday in Brixen since , where the solo and choral singing of the actors often attained theatrical levels. The laments of the flagellants moved the audience. They took on a dramatic life of their own. From the original venues such as churches and cloisters they were moved to stages.

The Passions of Sterzing of and were accompanied by music. Songs underlined the expressive power of the individual actors and the subdivision of the play into scenes. Also contained in the Debs Codex is a song in the synagogue that appears in the Bozen Passion of The Bozen Passion Play of took seven days to perform.

The role of Mary was played by a young cleric, dressed and made up to sing the part of the Virgin. The Brixen Passion of included melodies in the Easter scenes that have been written down complete with choral notation and precise text underlay. The Passion Play Theatre in Erl, newly built from to , was equipped with an organ.

Geburtstag , ed. Monika Oebelsberger et al. Jahrhundert , Innsbruck etc. Karl von Grabmayr, Berlin , p. Bundessingen , Bozen , p. Tiroler Landesausstellung , Dorf Tirol and Innsbruck , p. Maximilian I. Innsbruck , Innsbruck , p. Ulrich Mehler and Anton H. Touber, Amsterdam , p. Max Siller Schlern-Schriften , Innsbruck , p. Josef Weingartner, Innsbruck , p. Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Munich and Salzburg , p. Tiroler Landesausstellung , vol. Thomas L. Noblitt, Part One: no.

VIIff ; Part Two: no. Erich Egg et al. Pfarrchor Kaltern, Kaltern , p. Ladislav Kacic, Bratislava , p. Angelus Tschortsch: without reference to his relationship to J. Hermann Theiner, [Latsch ], p. Bundessingen Bozen , [Brixen, Bozen ], p. Sergio Martinotti, Milano , p. Konrad Fichtl Schlern-Schriften , Innsbruck , p. Gotthard Egger, Innsbruck , p. Danilo Curti and Marco Gozzi, Trento , p. Rossana Dalmonte, Trento , p. Friedhelm Brusniak and Horst Leuchtmann, Tutzing , p. Musikkapelle Vierschach im