Displaced Communities

Baltic Germans (over 150,000
displaced by Hitler and Stalin)

Germans of Yugoslavia
(over 200,000 expelled, imprisoned, displaced, emigrated, 98.5% total)

Volga Germans (over 400,000 expelled by Soviets to Kazakhstan)

Dutch Germans (3,691 expelled,
15% of German population)

Alsace-Lorraine Germans of France
(100-200,000 expelled after WWI)

Germans of Czechoslovakia
(over 3,000,000 expelled
and displaced, 95% total)

Germans of Hungary
(over 100,000 expelled, over
300,000 displaced, 88% total)

Germans of Romania
(over 700,000 or 91.5% displaced by Hitler, the USSR, & mass emigration)

US Internment of German-Americans, Japanese, and Italians
(10,906+ interned
and blacklisted) NEW!

Germans of Poland, Prussia, Silesia
(over 5,000,000 expelled and displaced, nearly 100%) COMING SOON

Germans of Russia/USSR/Ukraine
(nearly 1,000,000 to Germany and Kazakhstan) COMING SOON




Other Information

Thorough

The changing relationship between expellees and the German, Czech, and Polish governments

Distorted historical memory and ethnic nationalism as a cause for our forgetting the expelled Germans

Ethnic bias and nationalist revisionism among scholars as a cause of forgetting

Expellee scholarship on the occupations of Czechoslovakia and the Sudetenland, 1918-1945

Understanding Sexual Violence against German Expellee Women
as the Violation of Sacralized Boundaries

The problem of classifying German expellees as a 'genocide'

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Comparative Genocide Table

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The Institute for Research of Expelled Germans (Institut für Vertriebenenforschung) is an academic research organisation working to document the largely unknown story of more than 10,000,000 ethnic German civilians who were subjected to deportation, compulsory labour, expulsion, and in some cases starvation and ethnic violence following World War II. This process had varying support and involvement by the governments of the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania, and Yugoslavia. We are a non-political research institute; in no way do we justify the atrocities of the Nazis or undermine the genocides committed against other ethnic groups by the Germans or Soviets during the same timeframe. We strongly reject any revisionist, Antisemitic, or pro-Nazi tendencies. We have no relationship with expellee groups, political lobbies, or legal representatives whatsoever.

The displacement of ethnic German civilians mostly took place after World War II. By 1945, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union had finalised the Potsdam Conference, in which the borders of post-war Europe were redrawn. Germany ceded nearly 30% of its official territory, leaving huge ethnic German minourities as new constituents of Czechoslovakia and Poland. The Soviet Union and the newly-independent Eastern European Communist states included large German populations that had lived there for centuries (and in the Baltic for over 800 years). Considering these civilian populations 'dangerous' regardless of their diverse political ideologies, the governments of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the USSR forced the near entirety of the German civilian populations to be force marched into labour camps or to a Germany that their ancestors had often not seen for centuries.

The 'legal' expulsions of the Potsdam Conference accompanied the deaths of an uncertain number of civilians during the so-called 'wild expulsions' of 1944-1945. At the same time, Soviet Order #7161 planned to deport all physically-able men and women from German minourities to the Soviet Union for forced labour. Almost all of the 1,084,828 German settlers in the Soviet Union alone were shipped on trains to Siberia and Kazakhstan. Thousands starved to death in transit. In Czechoslovakia and Poland, many were suffered legal discrimination by being forced to wear white armbands to expedite their deportation and exclusion.

The Allied and Soviet deportation programmes supplemented the previous displacement of nearly a half-million ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe under diplomatic negotiation between Adolf Hitler and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in the Non-Aggression Pact of 1939, as part of Hitler's 'come home to the Reich' doctrine. At the same time, 10,906 German-Americans (both citizens and resident aliens) were shipped alongside Japanese- and Italian-Americans to US internment camps.

In total, at least 473,013 expellees may have died during the expulsions due to hypothermia, starvation, and to a lesser extent direct violence [1]. The Red Cross and the West German government cited a less verifiable 2,200,000 deaths [2].

The experience of millions of ethnic German families from 1945-50 was an unfortunate feature of far larger European historical processes, during which most nations in Eastern Europe defined citizenship and identity along exclusive biological or ethnic lines. Post-war Poland was to be a space to be solely inhabited by Poles; Ukraine by Ukrainians; and Czechoslovakia by Czechs and Slovaks. Regardless of their national loyalty, minourities in general had no place in the new post-war states of 1945.

Although the expelled Germans were the largest uprooted ethnicity in Europe after the war--and remain part of the largest forced migration in history--this same feature of national exclusivity led to the expulsion of millions of ethnic Poles, Ukrainians, Chechens, Ingush, Kalmyks, Koreans, Finns, Tatars, and Hungarians during the same period by their host nations. The story of the expelled Germans thus reflects the suffering of a far broader refugee and minourity experience.

 

Expelled and Displaced German Civilian Population Statistics
(see our scholarly articles at left for cross-referenced sources and statistics)

Baltic Germans (from 1939-45)- 150,000 displaced by Hitler and Stalin's negotiations and Soviet expulsions
Germans of the Soviet Union (Caucasus, Black Sea, Bessarabian, etc.)- nearly all of 1,084,828 (nearly 100% expelled), as many as 300,000 may have died (or 30% total)

Volga Germans (included within USSR stats)- over 400,000 (nearly 100%)
Dutch Germans- 3,691, or 15% of the total German population
Prussian, Silesian, Pomeranian Germans expelled by USSR and Poland- 5-8,000,000 (almost 100%)
Alsace-Lorraine Germans (after World War I)- over 100,000 expelled
Sudeten and Carpathian Germans of former Czechoslovakia- over 3,000,000 displaced and expelled (95% total)

Germans of Hungary- over 100,000 expelled, 300,000 displaced (88% total)
Transylvania Saxons and Banat Swabians of Romania- 700,000 displaced by Hitler, the USSR, emigration (91.5%)
Danube Swabians of Yugoslavia- over 200,000 gaoled, executed, expelled, displaced, or fled (98.5%)
______________________________________

TOTAL= approximately 10-13,000,000 civilians expelled or displaced, at least 473,013 dead.

[1] While the West German government and the Red Cross maintained an unverified and controversial number of over 2 million for many decades, and expellee groups often exaggerated to as many as 3 or 4 million as part of genocide, most scholarly estimates today cite a minimum of 400,000 deaths. Hahn and Hahnova cite 473,013, Ingo Haar "“no more than 0.5 to 0.6 million,” and Overmanns roughly 600,000. See Ingo Haar, “Die deutschen ’Vertreibungsverluste’ – Forschungsstand, Kontexte, und Probleme,“ in Mackensen, Rainer. Ursprünge, Arten und Folgen des Konstrukts "Bevölkerung" vor, im und nach dem "dritten Reich": zur Geschichte der Deutschen Bevölkerungswissenschaft(1. Aufl. Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2009), Hahnová, Eva, and Hans-Henning Hahn. Die Vertreibung im Deutschen Erinnern: Legenden, Mythos, Geschichte (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2010), and Overmans, Rüdiger. "Personelle Verluste der deutschen Bevölkerung durch Flucht und Vertreibung," Dzieje Najnowsze Rocznik (XXI-1994).

[2] Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich: A New History (Hill and Wang, 2001), 799.