Between the “Old” and the “New” Homeland

The Emotional Integration of Sudeten German Expellees after 1945

Soňa Mikulová

In 1945 about 12 million Germans based in Central and Eastern European countries lost their home. Those who in the last months of the war fled to save their lives were in the first post-war years joined by those who were expelled, often violently, from German-occupied countries. Although legally "equal" and belonging to the same nation, these newcomers faced ignorance, contempt, racism, and hostility from the local population. At the beginning, they were neither welcomed nor included into the emotional community of the receiving society. The parallel existence of other emotional communities in which the expellees gathered was strengthened by the fact that many of them considered their stay in Germany to be temporary and were waiting for the right moment to return to their former homes.

For many decades, this self-exclusion led to a part of the expellees acting as a political group in West Germany. They did this to protect their material claims and the identities they connected to their old homelands. This project will explore the creation of long-term emotional communities that were added to by Sudeten German expellees from Czechoslovakia, and the interaction between local population and newcomers. It will use archival documents, newspapers, literature, biographies, and interviews.

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