The lost German East : forced migration and the politics of memory, 1945-1970


    • Demshuk, Andrew


The lost German East : forced migration and the politics of memory, 1945-1970

Andrew Demshuk

Cambridge University Press, 2012

  • : hardback

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Includes bibliographical references (p. 277-294) and index



A fifth of West Germany's post-1945 population consisted of ethnic German refugees expelled from Eastern Europe, a quarter of whom came from Silesia. As the richest territory lost inside Germany's interwar borders, Silesia was a leading objective for territorial revisionists, many of whom were themselves expellees. The Lost German East examines how and why millions of Silesian expellees came to terms with the loss of their homeland. Applying theories of memory and nostalgia, as well as recent studies on ethnic cleansing, Andrew Demshuk shows how, over time, most expellees came to recognize that the idealized world they mourned no longer existed. Revising the traditional view that most of those expelled sought a restoration of prewar borders so they could return to the east, Demshuk offers a new answer to the question of why, after decades of violent upheaval, peace and stability took root in West Germany during the tense early years of the Cold War.


  • 1. From colonization to expulsion: a history of the Germans in Silesia
  • 2. The quest for the borders of 1937: expellee leaders and the 'right to the homeland'
  • 3. Homesick in the Heimat: Germans in postwar Silesia and the desire for expulsion
  • 4. Residing in memory: private confrontation with loss
  • 5. Heimat gatherings: recreating the lost East in West Germany
  • 6. Travel to the land of memory: homesick tourists in Polish Silesia
  • 7. 1970 and the expellee contribution to Ostpolitik
  • Epilogue: 8. The forgotten East.

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