Monday, June 24, 2013

Pain is Pain: the expulsion of ethnic Germans after WWII

Starting in 1945, about 12 million ethnic Germans were expelled from countries outside the traditional boundaries of Germany, as well of the eastern portions of the German Reich in what are today portions of Poland.

Before the Second World War, Germans lived in a European diaspora sometimes far away from either Germany or Austria.  Countries like Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Poland and Russia had signification German minority populations.

Because of the brutal invasion of Russia by Germany in Operation Barbarossa, which saw widespread murder and destruction, deportation of civilians and POWs as slave labor; and in general, a suspension of all the rules of war, the stag was set for the expulsion of the Germans if Germany should fail to win the war.  

After the war, all countries with sizable German minorities set about expelling them.  This was done both as revenge for Nazi atrocities, and to prevent further German claims to lands outside the redrawn post-war map.

These expulsions are the subject of Afred-Maurice de Zaya’s book A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of Eastern European Germans.  The author explores each German group by turn, showing us how and why the expulsions of Germans occurred through first hand testimony, government documents, and archival material.

De Zaya’s rightly illustrates the harshness and unjustness of these expulsions. They were done barbarously and brutally, with as many as 2 of the 12 million Germans expelled dead by their conclusion.  All Germans were expelled, babies, old men and women, anti-Nazis; guilt or innocence was not a standard, nor was any affiliation with National Socialism.

This book is informative and important, shedding light on a little known chapter in the annals of human misery and cruelty.  

However the author quotes from memoirs at great length, often three to four pages, interrupting the flow of the narrative.
The organization of the book is inexplicable in some parts, adding to confusion.  The book should have had more clear narrative and less of a patchwork of sources and large quotes. 

This would have made an important book a well-written book.

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