The Burden of History and the Trap of Memory

Erzwungene Wege [“Forced journeys”] is the title of the newly opened exhibition at the German Historical Museum in Berlin on the history of forced migration in Europe. It has been organized by the German League of Expellees, which represents Germans forced to migrate after WWII, and is a step towards the League’s goal to set up a permanent exhibition in the German capital. The exhibition has been the source of ongoing diplomatic conflict between Germany and its eastern neighbours – above all Poland – since the League called on Poland to pay compensation to former German owners of Polish property and even opposed Poland’s accession to the EU. Philipp Ther outlines the background of the historical conflict between Germany and Poland, the reasons behind the paradigm shift from culprit to victim in the German view of its history, and the enduring and very different memory in Poland of the German occupation.

Ever since the decision was taken to enlarge the EU, German-Polish relations have failed to run smoothly. A central point of conflict since 2003 has been and is an allegedly abstract matter: the history of both countries. The most controversial issue of all is how to deal with the period of occupation between 1939 and 1945, and with the ensuing flight and expulsion of the Germans from the former German territories in the east. Though the former German president Johannes Rau, his successor Horst Köhler, and the last Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski have repeatedly gone to lengths to encourage conciliatory gestures and a German-Polish dialogue, the differences between Germany and Poland over the memory of the decade from 1939 to 1948 cannot be overcome on the diplomatic level only.

Were it merely a matter of political understanding, it is likely that an agreement could be reached relatively promptly. The occupation of Poland counts among the cruellest manifestations of National Socialism. Three million Polish Jews and just as many non-Jewish Poles were murdered, millions were enslaved as forced labourers, and towards the end of the war, the capital Warsaw was reduced to ashes. On the German side, there were around eight million refugees and expellees from Poland, who were either fleeing the Red Army or forced to migrate after the end of the war. It will never be possible to establish beyond doubt how deaths were caused; however, it was above all children and the elderly who died while fleeing, as a result either of malnutrition, cold, or being caught in the crossfire.

Victim discourse

During the Cold War, the memory both of the Nazi occupation in Poland and the displacement in West Germany was was fairly distanced, since there was a lack of communication between the two countries. Hence, the Germans’ and the Poles’ definition of themselves as victims was left undisturbed. In the FRG, this view was above all prevalent during the 1950s; after 1968, the focus increasingly fell on Germany’s crimes during the Holocaust. However, it was more difficult to openly recognize guilt towards Poland than towards the Jews. Even today, as a result of the domination of the commemoration of the Holocaust in the remembrance of German crimes, the Polish occupation plays a lesser role in the public consciousness. In contrast, the everyday terror wrought upon Poland between 1939 and 1945 counts as just a detail in the overall picture of National Socialist crimes in central and eastern Europe. Generally speaking, anti-Semitism in German history is essentially better addressed than anti-Polish prejudice, which continued to strongly mark the early period of the FRG.[1]

In Poland, the debate about the nation’s own guilty history got underway only after 1989 in connection with the persecution of the Jews. Traditionally, Poland defined itself as a victim, a view that, given the division of the country between 1795 and 1918, the occupation during WWII, and the ensuing Soviet hegemony, was adequately supported. A major shock was caused in 2001 by the discovery of events in Jedwabne, a small Polish town whose population had taken part in the murder of the local Jews during WWII. At first, conservative and religious circles denied or downplayed the crime; however, the former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski attended the central commemoration ceremony in Jedwabne, and, after initial hesitation, the former Primate of Poland, Cardinal Józef Glemp, led a ceremony for the victims.[2] After 1989, Polish historians also carried out a broad review of the past with regard to Germany. Now there are numerous publications documenting the expulsions, including the worst of the accompanying phenomena such as the labour camps.[3] These publications, which in part reached a wider reading public, clearly express the kind of suffering expulsion and forced re-settlement can mean.

While after 1989 a cautious distancing took place in Poland from the nation’s former image of itself as victim, it has been possible to observe the opposite in the reunited Germany in recent years. The victim discourse has been booming, above all since the publication of Günter Grass’s Im Krebsgang [Crabwalk]. The subject of expulsion, which as a result of Willy Brandt’s policy towards eastern Europe was peripheral, has recently shifted to the centre of media attention. If one looks at the pictures of expellees, for example the issue of Spiegel spezial on the flight and expulsion of the Germans,[4] the message is clear: hunched and miserable expellees clearly dominate the pictures, and are thus shown only as victims.[5] The numerous articles, films, and books that have appeared of late ask much less about the history of the expellees before 1945. The NSDAP had strongholds in the eastern territories of Germany – whence the military vice was applied to Poland in 1939. Germans from the Sudetenland voted overwhelmingly for a National Socialist party in 1938, and thus contributed to the “smashing” of Czechoslovakia, as Hitler called it. Though it would be morally wrong to turn the Nazi history of many expellees into an accusation of collective guilt, it was a major cause of the postwar expulsions.

Can one therefore call the entire German population that fled or was driven out of central and eastern Europe “victims”? Even today, blame towards the Poles, Czechs, Russians, and participants of other so-called “expelling countries” still resonates in the term “expulsion”. However, hundreds of thousands of Germans died because the various Nazi generals, in order to hold on to East Prussia, Silesia, and other regions for as long as possible, gave the order to evacuate too late. Countless people died while fleeing during the winter. Today, they are counted as victims of expulsion and not as Nazi or war victims. In the big commemoration and jubilee celebrations in 2005, the figures of war refugees and of postwar expellees were permanently combined. The numbers of casualties were also exaggerated. For instance, although in 1997 the joint German-Czech commission of historians insisted that there were a maximum of 30 000 victims from the Sudetenland,[6] during the commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the war and the beginning of the expulsions, talk in the media was of 250 000 dead Sudeten Germans. Exaggerated numbers were quoted on German national radio, in the major newspapers, even in the leftwing Tageszeitung, despite the number demonstrably being based on a statistical mistake in the general census of 1946, which included as casualties all those who were missing or had gone underground.

The novel feature of the victim discourse of the early twenty-first century is that it has been initiated by the Left. Günter Grass, Helga Hirsch, and other publicists, as well as historians such as Karl Schlögel, have been claiming for a number of years that the displacement has been subject to a taboo by the liberal left majority in Germany. There is even talk of the “return of memory”, as if the subject had been forgotten. In southern Germany, in Christian and rural milieus, in most families affected, and thus in the majority of West German society, this was never the case; nevertheless, the influence of the 68ers is strong enough to convince both the right- and the leftwing media of the taboo thesis. Biographical aspects also play a role. As Helga Hirsch has emphasized in numerous books, her generation did not want to listen to their parents when they told them about their fate during the displacement. Now, there is the wish to let them receive at least posthumous justice and thereby process a part of one’s own childhood influence. This biographically-based renunciation of one’s own ideological imprint is a tradition for the 68ers. Almost forty years ago, a great many members of communist, Maoist, and various other leftwing splinter groups had equally biographical motives for their activities. Often, they came from bourgeois families that had been embroiled in National Socialism, and thus were unable to communicate with their parents about the latter’s criminal culpability and complicity. While, forty years ago, escape was still sought in collectivist ideologies, today the individual “fates” of expellees are highlighted. What is important is the individual’s role as victim and the trauma that the Germans experienced during the bombing and as refugees. These stories sell better than causal explanations about how the expulsions came about in the first place and why, particularly on the German side, the stories of the victims and the perpetrators are closely interwoven.

Memorians: Remembering Germans as individual victims

As evidenced by the numerous newly launched history magazines (ZEIT Geschichte, Geo-Geschichte, etc.), the Spiegel special issue, and the success of filmmaker Guido Knopp’s TV docu-soaps, history has become a business fuelled by loud theses, dramatic pictures, and shocking individual destinies. A new professional sector of “Memorians” has arisen, which is engaged mostly outside the universities, unencumbered by obligations of careful historical research. The medial processing occurs under the label of “memory”, which lends authenticity to the business of history and simultaneously justifies the concentration on individual destinies, even if doing so explains neither the Holocaust nor the expulsions. Since Germans have come to consider the successful process of having come to terms with the past to be part of their national identity, the criticism from historians such as Norbert Frei that research on the National Socialist crimes still has to be continued bounces off the “memorians“. It is said that since so much is now known about the Germans as culprits, and that the Germans have achieved so much in the way of coming to terms with the past, one can now, as a counterbalance so to speak, turn to the victims. While few have expressed it quite so crudely as Martin Walser, when he said that the Germans were fed up with their eternal role as perpetrators of the Holocaust, even the liberal-left newspapar die ZEIT has pointed out a logical and chronological sequence. According to die ZEIT, the FRG and the liberal-left mainstream since 1968 have worked over German guilt and criminal culpability sufficiently to now enable a turn to the subject of the German victims. Or, in the words of Sebastian Ullrich in the first issue of ZEIT-Geschichte in early 2005:

The increase in the remembrance of the German victims of war and displacement observable in recent years is not only about a mere return to the conceptual models of the 1950s, since the contemporization of German suffering takes place in a completely altered historical-political context and no longer serves the relativization of German crimes. In the late 1990s, as a result of the debate surrounding the Wehrmacht exhibition[7] and the Goldhagen controversy, the consciousness of German culpability became even more acute.[8]

According to this view, the consciousness of culpability need no longer be made any more acute and one can now turn to new subjects, especially German victimhood.

An essential difference to the historical discourses of the 1950s is that the selective memory of the “Berlin Republic” is now taking place without being directed from above, in other words by the government. The driving forces are, besides the National-Conservatives, reformed 68ers, who in advancing age are proving to be what perhaps they were all along: good Germans who contribute to consolidation of national identities through their construction of history. The rhetoric of these good Germans is a lot better than it was fifty years ago; they speak the rhetoric of global victimization and political correctness, they know about the Holocaust and would never deny it, they own up to the dark side of German history with gusto, and demand only that Poland and the Czech Republic do likewise and adopt the attitude of penitence, thereby smugly insinuating to these countries that they have not yet attained the level of Vergangenheitsbewältigung in Germany.

A new German understanding of history and the reactions in eastern central Europe

There is another difference to the 1950s: the debates about history in Germany are closely followed in central eastern Europe. Since 1989, above all Polish newspapers and television have access to a wide network of correspondents in Germany. There prevails among them, and the Polish intelligentsia as a whole, a special interest in history. Almost every educated Polish family had at least one grandfather or uncle who fell victim to the German occupation. Forced labour, starvation, or the loss of property were part of everyday life in any case. For this reason, a sensitivity exists in Poland to the way National Socialism is treated in Germany that the contemporary German is barely aware of. Solely on the basis of size and economic strength, Germany enjoys far greater attention in Poland and the Czech Republic than vice versa. That is why the functionaries of the associations of expellees are better known there than in Germany itself. The name Erika Steinbach, the chairwoman of the League of Expellees, is almost as well known as that of Gerhard Schröder or Angela Merkel, and she has been on the front pages of Polish magazines on many occasions.

Above all else, it has been the expellees associations’ demands for compensation for former property in the east that has sparked off defensive reactions that have found expression in the enlargement contract with the EU and elsewhere. The Polish government insisted – essentially for fear of the Germans – on a long-lasting transitional ruling on purchasing real estate, which they paid for with massive labour market restrictions. When the Preußische Treuhand [Prussian Claims Conference], an organization with close staff ties to the expellees associations, first announced appeals for damages against Poland, the Polish parliament reacted with a unanimous decision in Autumn 2003 calling on the government to claim compensation from Germany should damages be claimed from there. The content of the resolution and, more so, the unanimity, represent a return to the 1950s, when the Communist party chairman Wladyslaw Gomulka subsidized anti-German votes in order to ensure support for socialism and compulsory fraternity with the Soviet Union. Rationally speaking, the Sejm [Polish parliament] resolution is hard to understand, since a thorough legal assessment has deemed the damages claims against Poland hopeless.[9] However, it is above all at the local level that Poles who live in houses that formerly belonged to Germans are worried. A third of the Polish population live in the former German eastern territories, hence these fears are no marginal social phenomenon. Aside from this, the alleged threat posed by German expellees always makes good capital for election campaigns. Before the parliamentary and presidential elections in autumn 2005, the Preußische
made the headlines again, even though it was only repeating the old demands of 2003.

Erika Steinbach’s proposal to build a Zentrum gegen Vertreibung [Centre against Expulsion][10] met equal outrage. The original conception of 2003 proposed that the centre, together with a “commemorative rotunda”, be built in a “central location” in Berlin, which would mean indirect competition with the Holocaust memorial. According to initial plans, the centre would have a clear national historical orientation and primarily serve the commemoration of the German victims of displacement. In Poland, it was above all the prospect of being placed in the dock by the Berlin exhibition that had politicians of every stripe up in arms, including the former foreign minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, who despite having been imprisoned in Auschwitz counts as markedly pro-German. In response to Steinbach’s plans, he threatened to set up a centre in Poznan documenting Prussian oppression. Steinbach herself is also a source of continuous irritation. The CDU rightwinger was born in Poland as the daughter of a soldier in the German occupying forces. The fact that she now counts as an expellee – correctly so, according to German law – and acts as spokesperson for a victims’ association is felt by Poles to be mockery. German chancellor Gerhard Schröder distanced himself from the planned Zentrum gegen Vertreibung in the summer of 2003, but in 2005 it once more became the subject of party political stand-offs. Angela Merkel included the centre in her manifesto, thereby sparking off a storm of indignation in Poland. Two motives san be presumed for the chancellor candidate – who if anything is a liberal – playing the expellee card. Either Merkel wanted to bring on side the right wing of the CDU/CSU and the votes of the German expellees, or she really was thinking about a re-interpretation of contemporary German history. This tactic failed in that the Union lost 9 per cent of its votes in Bavaria, the stronghold of German expellees – far more than it did on average nationwide. This aside, in view of the state of the EU, the German government can hardly afford a freeze in relations with Poland and the Czech Republic.

In Poland, there is the suspicion that legal and financial claims lie behind the moral acknowledgement of German victims. In the postwar period, the Bund der Vertriebenen [League of Expellees] (BdV) has followed a dual strategy: the recognition of the displacement as an injustice and the compensation of expellees by Poland and the Czech Republic. After 1989, the BdV continued this policy and made these countries’ acknowledgement of its view of history a condition of any rapprochement with Germany. The representatives of the BdV voted in parliament against the German-Polish treaty of 1990/1991, against the German-Czech reconciliation declaration of 1997, and opposed the EU accession of Poland and the Czech Republic should either country fail to distance itself clearly from the expulsions.

Since the decision on EU enlargement, Steinbach has drawn not so much on the lexicon of the Cold War as on the international repertoire of victim discourses. The matter is no longer one of subsidization and interests but of memory, commemoration, and acknowledgement. In Germany, not only do former expellees such as the late SPD politician Peter Glotz, who ten years ago one would never have though to see in the proximity of Steinbach, allow themselves to be thus ensnared, but also intellectuals such as Ralph Giordano. In comparison to the global victim rhetoric of the expellees associations, the Polish parliament’s unanimous resolution of autumn 2003 seems anachronistic. There, the language of the Cold War frothed up once again, as Germany was brusquely held responsible for war damage and threatened with demands for reparations. In the summer of 2006, Poland protested in similar manner against a large exhibition in Berlin about the expulsion compiled by the BdV as a precursor of the planned centre.

In Germany, these protests in Poland are met with incomprehension. The question often heard from a variety of journalists from public broadcasters and quality newspapers was why the Poles react so exaggeratedly. It was never asked if a problem exists in the way the past was dealt with in Germany. In a country that has come to define itself through its successful Vergangenheitsbewaltigung [coming to terms with the past], that would have been a blow to the national identity.

An indication for the recent shift in the German understanding of history lies in the weighting of the issues. During the events in 2005 commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the war, the focus was on the bombed cities and the expellees (n.b. rarely on the refugees, which would in fact have been correct). In contrast, the crimes of the occupying armies in Poland played a much less prominent role. Completely forgotten were the hundreds of thousands of Soviet prisoners of war who met their ends in German camps as a result of hunger and disease. A forgetting can be noted in Germany regarding this subject that stands in marked contrast to the boom in its own victim discourse. The speech of the German president Horst Köhler on 8 May 2005 serves as an example of this paradigm shift. He recalled the German crimes of sixty years ago, but the word “occupation” occurred not once, while at four separate junctures the subject turned to the expulsions and the expellees. This speech clearly corresponded to the consensus in German society, since criticism came from neither the Left nor the Right.

Disinterest and old grudges towards Poland

The widespread lack of understanding for Poland is based less on an active repression of the German crimes over sixty years ago, which Köhler recalled, so much as on an asymmetrical awareness. Only a handful of German newspapers and radio stations have correspondents in Warsaw. Germans know Poland little if at all; knowledge of the language is the exception. Surveys about Poland still reveal shocking prejudices. This has not improved essentially since 1989, only Germans’ arrogance towards the “Polish economy” has, in view of the crisis in their own country, been tempered. In German schools, Polish remains an exotic subject option, even in states near to the border such as Saxony and Brandenburg.

Educated Germans often also lack the most basic knowledge about Polish history, even though it is closely tied to German and Prussian history. Prussia rose to power on the back of the division of Poland in 1772, 1793, and 1795. Even the foundation of the German empire in 1871 was based on the continuation of this division. Given the size and significance of the Polish minority and other Slavic-language groups, one might well ask whether the German Empire, and above all its core state Prussia, was really a nation-state. The many Polish names in Berlin and the Ruhr are evidence of Polish migration during the nineteenth century. However, barely anything of this Polish influence remains visible – one of the many consequences of National Socialism and German nationalism.

EU enlargement has brought a new element into play alongside ignorance and prejudice: the fear of “cheap competition” from the east. As early as 2001, talk at negotiations on EU enlargement was only of “opening the gates”, the threat of a “flood” of immigrants, and the need to “channel” and to “dam”, as if hundreds of thousands of Poles were standing on the banks of the Oder waiting to swamp Germany. Though the problem may have been diverted by the seven-year block on labour immigration from the eastern EU member states pushed for by the Schröder government, people now have reason to fear the eventual opening of the labour market.

The fear of immigration from the east is reminiscent of a comparable discourse of over one hundred years ago. No less a figure than Max Weber, in his inaugural lecture at Freiburg University on “The nation-state and economic policy”, warned about immigration from Poland. In 1895, Weber explained the ousting of German agricultural workers from their jobs by the ability of the “Polish race” to live under poorer conditions, if need be “eating the grass from the ground”.[11] The sociologist pleaded for a mix of assimilation and repression and an active settlement policy, in order to impose minority status upon Poles in the Prussian partitioned territories. Poles faced many forms of discrimination in the German empire: in becoming civil servants, in exercising the right to form groups, and in school and other public facilities. It was above all the manipulation of ethnic population formation according to the imperial settlement law that had fatal consequences. The German settlers in the east could not prevent the Poles from becoming a modern nation. However, after WWI, when Poland again became an independent state, the new government attempted to expel the imperial colonizers. The sequence of settlement and re-settlement that Bismarck had begun was thereby continued. During WWII, it reached a climax with the mass expulsion of Poles from the “Warthegau” and after 1945 with the expulsion of the Germans from the Polish territory newly extended to the west.

A forerunner of racist attitudes towards Poles among the German middle classes was the author Gustav Freytag. The most successful German novelist of the nineteenth century set his novel Soll und Haben [Debt and Credit] (1855) in Silesia and in the Prussian partitioned territories, portraying his protagonist Anton Wohlfahrt as a “Kulturträger” [bearer of culture] in the east. First, the son of a provincial Protestant family works his way up from humble surroundings to become a tradesman who must succeed in a number of adventures in neighbouring Poland. In the second part, he proves himself to be a man in the Prussian partitioned territories, defends a German aristocrat against a Polish mutiny, and secures the estate for his fatherland. Freytag’s Poles are thievish, bearded, and unwashed fellows, who must be met with the necessary toughness so that they become docile. At a central juncture in the novel, Wohlfahrt says that there is “no race so little equipped for progress and for gaining humanity and education through its own capital as the Slavic”. That was why the Germans had a right and a duty to “colonize” Poland. The entire novel reads like a roll call of German virtues: diligence, orderliness, modesty, and honesty. The social and confessional features of Wilhelmine Germany as a respectable, Protestant nation were defined in contrast to Poland. The demonization of the Jews, who are portrayed in the novel as liars and as dangerous, is spiteful. Freytag has the Jews in his book speak with Polish syntax, thereby exoticizing them, even though the Jews in his own region of Silesia were in truth strongly assimilated into German culture. Not only was Soll und Haben the German empire’s bestseller, it could also be found on the bookshelves of every more respectable middle class household in Germany until well into the postwar period. Freytag later transferred his colonial attitude towards the Poles to the overseas colonies and rose to become a prominent activist in the German Colonial Association. In the German Empire, his novel became the founding work of a literary genre in itself, so-called Ostmarkenliteratur [literature from the eastern territories], the pendant to English or French colonial literature.[12]

The response from the Prussian-ruled Poles was different to that described in Soll und Haben. They appropriated the allegedly exclusively German virtues, built up an independent system of fraternity in the financial sector, and also responded in the cultural sphere. Henryk Sienkiewicz, the subsequent Nobel laureate, wrote the historical novel Krzyzacy [The Crusader] to some extent in response to Freytag, insofar as the Germans were represented as invaders and exploiters. He turned the alleged Kulturträger in eastern Europe, as the Germans saw themselves, into warriors and barbarians, interested only in the Slavic riches. Even if the Prussian Poles threw off some of their complexes as a result of these economic and cultural achievements, the fear of the Germans and the colonizers remained an obsession in the interwar period, and were confirmed for the worst during the period of occupation. Today, the affluence divide, deepened above all by WWII, awakens a sense of inequality. In Poland, Germany still enjoys the reputation of a more orderly, more developed, and wealthier nation, which because of its power nevertheless remains fearsome. This background may also help understand the heated reaction to Steinbach and the Preußische Treuhand. It arises from a fear developed over the course of a century.

It is up to politics and the public sphere in Germany how this fear is handled. A possibility would be an internal elucidation by the German Federal Republic of the legal system regarding claims to property by former expellees. Nevertheless, the expellees have received partial compensation for their lost property in the east since the 1950s, which could in fact be made repayable if their former property were turned over to them. It would be possible with this calculation to persuade many of the plaintiffs in Poland or soon at the EU level to withdraw their claims.

Just as important would be not to set up the Zentrum gegen Vertreibung in Berlin. It has become clear that the BdV, together with Erika Steinbach, has gathered sufficient funds to open an exhibition in Berlin in August 2006. One year earlier, Steinbach even announced at a press conference that she had secured the Michaelskirche in central Berlin as a location for the memorial centre and the permanent exhibition. However, a short while later the Cardinal of Berlin, Georg Sterzinski, announced that he considered the centre to be ill-timed and would therefore not be making his church available. Next, in a joint declaration with their Polish counterparts, the German bishops clearly distanced themselves from the prestige project of the BdV, whereupon Erika Steinbach accused the head of the German conference of bishops of “monstrosities” and breach of the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not lie” [sic]. This outburst and the CDU’s poor election results may have irretrievably damaged Steinbach’s project; however, this does not change the fundamental problems in the German discourse on expulsion and recent history. Moreover, the recent exhibition opened in August of 2006 was perceived relatively warmly by the media, so the public mood might change in favour of Steinbach.

Differentiating views of expulsion histories

One of the underlying problems of this exhibition is that in recent years, the terminology of the expulsion has mutated into a catch-all concept for all kinds of victim histories around the end of WWII. It subsumes the evacuations by the National Socialists as well as the flight from the Red Army, the expulsion between the end of the war and the Potsdam Agreement as well as the contractually sanctioned forced re-settlement after August 1945. This drawing of equivalences is therefore already questionable, since behind flight and expulsion hide various destinies. As mentioned, the National Socialists were too late in giving the evacuation order in many regions, in order to use the German civilian population as a buffer against the advancing Red Army. However, those who did find their way into the West in good time, such as the many higher party functionaries and members of the social elite, mostly got off lightly. On the other hand, the victims of the so-called “wild expulsion” in spring 1945 suffered from the deep hatred towards the former occupiers vented on them. In comparison, the expulsion according to the terms of the Potsdam Agreement was more organized, above following further agreements at the beginning of 1946 between the Allies and those states in central eastern Europe.[13] In both cases, the impoverished expellees arrived in a postwar Germany that was suffering from general hunger and had no more living space to hand out. Flight and expulsion is by no means one and the same thing, therefore; aside from which, the biographies before and after the traumatic loss of home also differ according to the region of origin. Sudeten Germans faced different experiences and conditions under which to start up again after 1945 than, for example, East Prussians or Silesians.

What the expellees associations do have in common, however, is that former Nazis and Greater German nationalists were often able to assume leading positions within their ranks, including the long-serving chairman of the Sudeten German association, Lodgman von Auen. As the historians Detlev Brandes and Jiri Pesek unearthed, before the war Lodgman von Auen was author of a text in which he encouraged the mass re-settlement of Czechs. This chapter of the past of the expellees has been left untouched.

During the multiple commemoration ceremonies in 2005, the pronounced fixation on the expulsion experience sidelined the period after the expulsions as well as history before 1945. It is one of the tasks of historical research to broaden this perspective again. Particularly the period after the expulsion remains largely in the dark.[14] This applies not only to the expellees associations, but to all expellees who arrived in Germany. An explanation for the continued lamentation at their fate could be that in postwar Germany no one really wanted to listen to them – that they could not communicate their tragic experiences, or if they could, only among themselves. This means, however, that expulsion and the lack of critical attention paid to it is primarily an internal problem of German postwar society and only secondarily an international problem between Poland and Germany or the Czech Republic and Germany. In Poland and the Czech Republic, there is also relatively little known about the postwar history of regions in which expulsions took place.

Memory – a heterogeneous and transnational object of research

Historians are facing a fundamental challenge. On the whole, the concepts of remembrance and memory depend upon what a national collective imagines when it thinks back over the past. The German version of Pierre Nora’s Lieux de mémoires may indeed have begun to overcome this collectivism; however, the focus remains on the German remembrance of various epochs.[15] As the Austrian cultural historian Moritz Csaky has revealed, this line of research obscures far too much the internal differences of remembrance within a nation.[16] He also stresses the transnational character of remembrance, which, if one looks at the discourse of expulsion, one can only confirm. The German expellees remember places that have long since ceased to be German, in just the same way that Polish expellees refer to places that today belong to Ukraine or Lithuania. Also, the lost cultures of the east can in many places be understood as mixed cultures rather than imprinting them with their national stamp.

Moreover, the impact of collective memory is transnational. Today, Germany is no longer an isolated western frontline state as it was in the 1950s, when it was possible without much international protest to sideline the non-German victims in order to be able to emphasize one’s own suffering all the more. Today, Germany’s eastern neighbours view every change in its self-understanding with suspicion. Helga Hirsh might respond stubbornly that national remembrance and mourning must continue to be possible. However, as soon as this is taken up by the media, it automatically becomes transnational. As uncomfortable as they might be, the claims from Poland, the Czech Republic, and Israel represent a corrective that the ’68 generation can provide only as individuals. A dialogue on history can develop out of this, one that no longer revolves around irreconcilable memories, but, in international collaboration, looks for explanations as to why the twentieth century produced so many catastrophes and what can be learned from that today. The foundation in September 2005 of the European network Memory and Solidarity was aimed in this direction; here, Poland, Germany, Slovakia, and Hungary will research collaboratively the history of totalitarian regimes, and thereby the war and forced migration. Planned in the scope of the foundation’s activities is a travelling exhibition and a lexicon on forced migration. It remains to be seen, however, how far the new Polish government will continue to support the project and whether the Czech Republic and Austria will become substantially involved.

In the future, historical research about the expulsions should overcome the currently fashionable fixation on individual destinies, for the reason that the original sin of modern history, the Holocaust, is characterized by the fact that, as an individual, one could not escape persecution. A similar principle applied to the expulsions, which did not depend on which nationality a person aligned themselves to. The late Czech historian Jan Havranek summed up precisely the difference between the fate of the Jews and that of the expellees: “The journey of the second ended upon crossing the border of Bavaria or Saxony, in poverty, with only their resourcefulness to fall back on. The journey of the first almost always led through Theresienstadt to the gas chambers of Auschwitz.”[17] The compartmentalization of history into individual victim discourses ultimately only brings with it the relativization of the Holocaust. Even if this is not openly admitted, that can be the underlying intention of the commemoration. One wants to be victim both in private and in the global discourse, in Germany too. As the sociological research in the book Opa war kein Nazi [Grandpa wasn’t a Nazi] shows, the tendency is widespread, particularly among educated Germans, to suspect that one’s own family members were innocent witnesses, victims, or resistance fighters.[18] By contrast, national socialist biographies are suppressed. If family history is already being prettified today, it is no surprise that there are attempts to change society’s entire view of history. If one transposes the rehabilitation of one’s family history onto the level of society, then barely anyone in Germany still wants to be a culprit, but rather a victim. However, it is precisely the Poles who lived during the occupation and their children and grandchildren who know who the culprits were. For Germany, there is no escaping this history, no matter how much present-day Germans might long to.

English translation by Simon Garnett © Eurozine


[1] In conjunction with the policy of détente, however, there were basic attempts to process the German-Polish relationship. Cf. especially the many essays by Klaus Zernack summarized in his book, Preußen – Deutschland – Polen. Aufsätze zur Geschichte der deutsch-polnischen Beziehungen, Berlin 1991.

[2] The debate over Jedwabne is documented in the journal Transodra in German and Polish. Cf. Ruth Henning (ed.) “Die ‘Jedwabne-Debatte’ in polnischen Zeitungen und Zeitschriften. Dokumentation”, in: Transodra 23, Potsdam 2002. The most accessible version is online: (Accessed 5 October 2005).

[3] Here the four-volume source documentation by Lemberg and Borodziej about the treatment of the Germans in Poland, which has also been translated into German, is recommendable. Cf. Hans Lemberg and Wlodzimierz Borodziej, Deutschen östlich von Oder und Neiße 1945-1950. Dokumente aus polnischen Archiven. 4 Vols. Marburg 2000-2003.

[4] Cf. Spiegel spezial from 18.6.2002: Die Flucht der Deutschen.

[5] Cf. on picture language of the expulsion Heidemarie Uhl, “Deutsche Schuld, deutsches Leid – Eine österreichische Perspektive auf neue Tendenzen der deutschen Erinnerungskultur”, in: Tel Aviver Jahrbuch für deutsche Geschichte 33 (2005), 160-180.

[6] Cf. Konfliktgemeinschaft, Katastrophe, Entspannung. Skizze einer Darstellung der deutschtschechischen Geschichte seit dem 19. Jahrhundert, ed. Gemeinsamen deutsch-tschechischen Historikerkommission [the German-Czech Joint Historical Committee], Munich 1996, 69.


[8] die ZEIT Geschichte, Nr. 1, Part 1, April 2005, 34.

[9] Cf. the report by professors Jan Barcz (University of Warsaw) und Jochen Frowein (Universtiy of Heidelberg), which is available on the website of the Polish embassy in Berlin ( (Accessed on 5 October 2005). Cf. on compensation claims also Krzysztof Ruchniewicz, “Doppelt betrogen? Der Streit um die polnischen Entschädigungsansprüche an die Bundesrepublik Deutschland”, Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht, 5/6 (2005), 323-332.


[11] “Der Nationalstaat und die Volkswirtschaftspolitik: Akademische Antrittsrede von Dr. Max Weber o. ö. Professor der Staatswissenschaften in Freiburg i.B.”, Max Weber, Schriften und Reden, Vol. 4. 2: Landarbeiterfrage, Nationalstaat und Volkswirtschaftspolitik. Schriften und Reden 1892-1899, ed. W. J. Mommsen, Tübingen 1993, 535-74, especially 545, 551, and 553.

[12] On the colonial attitudes in the empire towards Poland, cf. Philipp Ther, “Deutsche Geschichte als imperiale Geschichte. Polen, slawophone Minderheiten und das Kaiserreich als kontinentales Empire”, in: Sebastian Conrad und Jürgen Osterhammel, Das Kaiserreich transnational. Deutschland in der Welt 1871-1914, Göttingen 2004, 129-148.

[13] Cf. on the different phases of flight and expulsion from a comparative perspective Philipp Ther, et al., Deutsche und polnische Vertriebene: Gesellschaft und Vertriebenenpolitik in der SBZ/DDR und in Polen 1945-1956, Göttingen 1998.

[14] Among the exceptions is the book by Finnish historian Pertti Ahonen, After the Expulsion. West Germany and Eastern Europe 1945-1990, Oxford 2003.

[15] Cf. Etienne François and Hagen Schulze, Deutsche Erinnerungsorte, 3 Vols., Munich 2001.

[16] Cf. on the critique of the national focus of remembrance research Moritz Csaky, “Gedächtnis, Erinnerung und die Konstruktion von Identität. Das Beispiel Zentraleuropas”, in: Catherine Bosshart-Pfluger et al. (ed.), Nation und Nationalismus in Europa. Kulturelle Konstruktion von Identitäten, Frauenfeld 2002, 25-50, here 26.

[17] Jan Havranek, “Das tragische Jahrzehnt in Mitteleuropa”, in: Richard G. Plaschka et al. (ed.), Nationale Frage und Vertreibung in der Tschechoslowakei und Ungarn 1938-1948. Aktuelle Forschungen, Vienna 1997, xiii-xviii, here xvii.

[18] Cf. Harald Welzer / Sabine Moller / Karoline Tschuggnall, ‘Opa war kein Nazi’. Nationalsozialismus und Holocaust im Familiengedächtnis, Frankfurt 2002.

Tr@nsit online, 2007
Copyright © 2007 by the author & Transit – Europäische Revue. All rights reserved. This work may be used, with this header included, for noncommercial purposes. No copies of this work may be distributed electronically, in whole or in part, without written permission from Transit.


Related Content

  • 20 Lessons from the 20th Century

    Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.
    Read more

  • Poland vs. History

    Perhaps the greatest surprise in the Polish government’s decision is the implicit alliance with current Russian memory policy. The move to limit the Polish history of World War II to the week-long engagement with Germany at Westerplatte in 1939 follows a Russian script that is entirely on the record. In a speech at Westerplatte in 2009, Vladimir Putin accepted that Poland, and not the USSR, was the first victim of German aggression. But there was an important proviso, which he has amplified several times since. The German attack on Poland, Putin asserts, was a consequence of Poland’s own dealings with Nazi Germany before the war, rather than a result of the Soviet-German alliance of 1939.
    Read more

  • Russia’s Never-Ending War against “Fascism”. Memory Politics in the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict

    Seventy years after the end of World War II, writes Tatiana Zhurzhenko, the fight for hegemony in Europe continues – disguised as a conflict of historical master narratives. The beginning of the current round of memory wars in the post-Soviet space can be dated back to 2005, when the sixtieth anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany turned into a loyalty test for the politicians of neighbouring countries.
    Read more

  • Putin’s New Nostalgia

    As Russian military convoys continue the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has chosen to rehabilitate the alliance between Hitler and Stalin that began World War II. Speaking before an audience of Russian historians at the Museum of Modern Russian History, Putin said: “The Soviet Union signed a non-aggression agreement with Germany. They say, ‘Oh, how bad.’ But what is so bad about it, if the Soviet Union did not want to fight? What is so bad?”
    Read more

  • Der neue Kreisauer Kreis

    Gerhard Gnauck erzählt, wie eine Witwe aus dem Widerstand und ein DDR-Bürgerrechtler dem Gut des Feldmarschalls Moltke neues Leben einhauchten.
    Read more

  • Jenseits des Traumas.
    Überlegungen zur Erinnerungsforschung in der Postmoderne

    Die Erinnerungsforschung emanzipiert sich zunehmend von der Nationalgeschichte. In der Folge wird kollektives transnationales Gedächtnis oft mit Trauma gleichgesetzt. Martina Steer zeigt die Konsequenzen dieser Gleichsetzung auf und beleuchtet Perspektiven für einen breiteren Zugang zur Erforschung transnationaler Erinnerung, die nicht auf der Kategorie „Trauma“ basieren.
    Read more

  • The European Union and the Habsburg Monarchy

    The Habsburg Monarchy lasted five centuries. It was both solid and flexible; it aroused genuine affection among its citizens. But it vanished in a puff of smoke. Should we expect the European Union, shallow in history and unloved by those it serves, to do better?
    Read more

  • Balancing the Books

    West German foreign policy after 1945 was reconciliatory but conducted over the heads of the eastern European populations who had suffered most during the war. Now, Germany can be said to have atoned for its wartime misdemeanours; yet, in the European political climate post-May 2004, eastern European experiences of subjugation are often glossed over. France's criticism of Poland's involvement in the occupation of Iraq as knee-jerk pro-Americanism overlooked alliances formed during the Cold War. Meanwhile, Poland's objection to a museum in Germany commemorating Germans expelled from Poland was interpreted as anger at the violation of a national taboo; the real reason was the Polish belief that Germany istelf had not made corresponding concessions. Timothy Snyder argues that such rifts could be avoided by a version of European history that included both western and eastern experiences. Then, solidarity rather than national prejudice would motivate public opinion on matters of European politics.
    Read more

  • Russia’s Reckoning with Katy?

    Why does it matter that the Russian parliament has just declared the Katy? mass murder of 1940 to be a Stalinist crime? Seventy years on, no one doubts the responsibility of Stalin, Beria, and the Soviet NKVD for the murder of about 21,892 Polish citizens in the Katy? Forest and four other sites. Yet, according …
    Read more

  • Lebendige Erinnerung an die Diktatur
    Was Europas Süden und Osten gemeinsam haben

    Der französische Politikwissenschaftler Maurice Duverger wurde 1951 europaweit durch das „Duverger’sche Gesetz“ bekannt, demzufolge ein System einfacher Mehrheit in Einerwahlkreisen die Herausbildung eines Zweiparteiensystems begünstigt. Zehn Jahre später jedoch veröffentlichte der 1917 geborene Sozialdemokrat ein mit „De la dictature“ betiteltes Buch, in dem er nicht trockene sozialwissenschaftliche Wahlstatistik trieb, sondern einen emotionalen, gar dramatischen Ton …
    Read more

Tr@nsit Online Authors

  • Bradley F. Abrams

    History, Stanford University
    Read more

  • Thomas Ahbe

    Thomas Ahbe studierte Philosophie, Ökonomie und Soziologie. Seit 1998 wirkt er freischaffend als Sozialwissenschaftler und Publizist. Seine Arbeitsschwerpunkte sind Diskurs- und Kulturgeschichte der deutschen Zweistaatlichkeit und der ostdeutschen Transformation sowie die Generationengeschichte der DDR und Ostdeutschlands.   Print

  • Karl Aiginger

    Karl Aiginger is Director of WIFO (Österreichisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung), Professor of Economics and Coordinator of the project A new growth path for Europe within the 7th European Framework Program.   Print

  • Huercan Asli Aksoy

    Ph.D. candidate in Political Science, University of Tübingen
    Read more

  • Sorin Antohi

    Sorin Antohi is Professor of History at Central European University, Budapest.   Print

  • Timothy Garton Ash

    History, Oxford
    Read more

  • Roumen Avramov

    Program director for economic research at the Center for Liberal Strategies, Sofia
    Read more

  • Adam Baczko

    PhD Candidate in Political Science, EHESS, Paris
    Read more

  • Rainer Bauböck

    Rainer Bauböck is professor of social and political theory at the European University Institute in Florence. In 2006 he was awarded the Latsis Prize of the European Science Foundation for his work on immigration and social cohesion in modern societies. Among his many publications are Immigration and Boundaries of Citizenship (1992), Transnational Citizenship: Membership and …
    Read more

  • Steven Beller

    Geschichte, Cambridge
    Read more

  • Naja Bentzen

    Freelance journalist, Wien
    Read more

  • Luiza Bialasiewicz

    Professor of European Governance, University of Amsterdam
    Read more

  • Muriel Blaive

    Advisor to the Director, in Charge of Research and Methodology, Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Prague
    Read more

  • András Bozóki

    Professor of Political Science, Central European University, Budapest
    Read more

  • José Casanova

    Professor für Soziologie, New School for Social Research, New York
    Read more

  • Daniel Chirot

    Soziologie, Seattle
    Read more

  • Robert Cooper

    Robert Cooper ist britischer Diplomat und derzeit als Sonderberater des Europäischen Auswärtigen Dienstes (European External Action Service, EEAS) tätig. Er ist zudem Gründungsmitglied des European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).   Print

  • Peter Demetz

    Sterling Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature, Yale University; Korrespondierendes Mitglied des IWM
    Read more

  • James Dodd

    Associate Professor of Philosophy, Special Advisor to the Dean on Faculty Affairs, New School for Social Research
    Read more

  • Martin Endreß

    Martin Endreß ist Professor für Soziologie an der Universität Trier.   Print

  • Mischa Gabowitsch

    Mischa Gabowitsch ( is a research fellow at the Einstein Forum in Potsdam. He is the author of Putin kaputt!? (Suhrkamp, 2013), a study of the 2011-13 Russian protests for fair elections, and maintains, which collects academic resources for the study of protest in Russia.   Print

  • Charles Gati

    Charles Gati is Senior Acting Director of Russian and Eurasian Studies and Foreign Policy Institute Senior Fellow at the School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C.     Print

  • Dessy Gavrilova

    Dessy Gavrilova is the founding Director of The Red House – Center for Culture and Debate in Sofia, Bulgaria.     Print

  • Keith Gessen

    Keith Gessen is a freelance writer living in Cambridge, MA.   Print

  • Gerhard Gnauck

    Warsaw correspondent for Die Welt
    Read more

  • Katya Gorchinskaya

    Managing Editor for Investigative Programming, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (REF/RL), Kyiv
    Read more

  • John Gray

    John Gray is Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics.   Print

  • Rainer Gries

    Rainer Gries lehrt und forscht als Universitätsprofessor am Historischen Institut der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, am Institut für Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft der Universität Wien sowie an der Sigmund Freud PrivatUniversität Wien. Zu seinen Forschungsschwerpuntken zählen u.a. die Gesellschaftsgeschichte Deutschlands und Österreichs im 20. Jahrhundert und die Geschichte des Konsums in Europa.   Print

  • Eva Hahn

    Read more

  • Gábor Halmai

    Professor of Law, Department of European Studies; Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
    Read more

  • Elemer Hankiss

    Professor für Politikwissenschaft, Eötvös Lorand Universität, Budapest; Korrespondierendes Mitglied des IWM
    Read more

  • Miklós Haraszti

    Miklós Haraszti is a writer, journalist, human rights advocate and university professor. He served the maximum of two terms as the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media from 2004 to 2010. Currently he is Adjunct Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia Law School, New York. Haraszti studied philosophy and …
    Read more

  • Sabine Hark

    Sabine Hark forscht an der Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Universität Potsdam, Professur für Frauenforschung.   Print

  • Annemieke Hendriks

    Freelance journalist, Berlin
    Read more

  • Charles Hirschman

    Charles Hirschman is Boeing International Professor at the Department of Sociology and the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, Washington University.     Print

  • Jennifer L. Hochschild

    Jennifer L. Hochschild is Professor of Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Professor of African and African-American Studies at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University.   Print

  • Yaroslav Hrytsak

    History, Central European University Budapest
    Read more

  • Richard Hyman

    Richard Hyman ist Professor für Politikwissenschaft an der London School of Economics.   Print

  • Vladislav Inozemtsev

    Professor of Economics at Higher School of Economics; Director, Centre for Post-Industrial Studies, Moscow
    Read more

  • Bruce P. Jackson

    Bruce P. Jackson is the founder and President of the Project on Transitional Democracies. The Project is a multi-year endeavour aimed at accelerating the pace of reform in post-1989 democracies and advancing the date for the integration of these democracies into the institutions of the Euro-Atlantic. Jackson has written extensively about the engagement of Russia …
    Read more

  • Tom Junes

    Visiting Researcher, Warsaw University, and Visiting Lecturer in Polish history, KULeuven, Belgium
    Read more

  • Alex J. Kay

    Alex J. Kay holds a PhD in History from the Humboldt University Berlin.   Print

  • Anatoly M. Khazanov

    Anatoly M. Khazanov ist Professor für Anthropologie an der University of Wisconsin, Madison.   Print

  • Cornelia Klinger

    Professor of Philosophy, University of Tübingen
    Read more

  • Gudrun-Axeli Knapp

    Professor of Social Sciences and Social Psychology, University of Hannover
    Read more

  • Jacek Kochanowicz

    Jacek Kochanowicz is Professor for Economic History at Warsaw University.       Print

  • Michal Kopecek

    International Relations, Charles University Prague
    Read more

  • János Kornai

    János Kornai is Prof. em. for Economics  at Harvard University and Permanent Fellow at the Collegium Budapest – Institute for Advanced Study. He is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Academia Europeae, and Foreign Member of the American, British, Bulgarian, Finnish, Russian and Swedish Academies. He has served as President of …
    Read more

  • Bilyana Kourtasheva

    Post-Doc in Theory and History of Literature, New Bulgarian University, Sofia
    Read more

  • János Mátyás Kovács

    IWM Permanent Fellow
    Senior member of RECET, Institute of East European History, Vienna University; Professor of Economic History, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
    Read more

  • Ivan Krastev

    IWM Permanent Fellow
    Chair of the Board, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia
    Read more

  • Yustyna Kravchuk

    PhD candidate in Film and Media Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv
    Read more

  • Jacek Kucharczyk

    Jacek Kucharczyk ist Head of Programs am Institute of Public Affairs in Warschau.   Print

  • Aleksander Kwasniewski

    Aleksander Kwasniewski war Präsident Polens. Seine Amtszeit verlief von 1995 bis 2005 über zwei Legislaturperioden.   Print

  • Mladen Lazic

    Professor of Sociology, University of Belgrade
    Read more

  • Claus Leggewie

    Professor für Politikwissenschaft, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen
    Read more

  • Mark Leonard

    Co-founder and Director, European Council on Foreign Relations
    Read more

  • André Liebich

    Honorary Professor of International History and Politics, Graduate Institute, Geneva
    Read more

  • Burkhard Liebsch

    Burkhard Liebsch ist Professor für Philosophie an der Ruhr-Universität Bochum.   Print

  • Michal Luczewski

    Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, Warsaw University
    Read more

  • Charles S. Maier

    Charles S. Maier ist Direktor des Center for European Studies, Harvard University.   Print

  • Andrey Makarychev

    Andrey Makarychev ist Professor und Research Fellow am Institut Osteuropäische Studien an der Freien Universität Berlin.   Print

  • Michał Maciej Matlak

    Ph.D. candidate, Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute, Florence
    Read more

  • Erik Meyer

    Erik Meyer ist seit 2000 wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Sonderforschungsbereich ‘Erinnerungskulturen’ an der Justus-Liebig Universität Gießen.   Print

  • Krzysztof Michalski

    IWM Founding Rector
    Read more

  • Hans J. Misselwitz

    Hans-Jürgen Misselwitz ist ein deutscher SPD-Politiker und Gründungsmitglied des Instituts Solidarische Moderne.   Print

  • Alessandro Monsutti

    Alessandro Monsutti is an associate professor of anthropology and development sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, as well as research associate at the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. He worked as a consultant for several nongovernmental and international organizations, icnluding UNHCR. His book War and Migration: Social Networks …
    Read more

  • Jan-Werner Müller

    Professor of Politics, Princeton University

    Visiting Fellow
    (September 2016 – August 2017)
    Read more

  • Rainer Münz

    Professor für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Korrespondierendes Mitglied des IWM
    Read more

  • Sighard Neckel

    Professor of Sociology, Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main
    Read more

  • Katherine Newman

    Katherine S. Newman is the James B. Knapp Dean of The Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. She is a widely published expert on poverty and the working poor who led major interdisciplinary initiatives at Princeton and Harvard universities.     Print

  • Pierre Nora

    Pierre Nora lehrt Geschichte an der École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris.   Print

  • Tereza Novotna

    Political Science, Boston University
    Read more

  • Ewald Nowotny

    Ewald Nowotny is Governor of the Austrian National Bank.   Print

  • Thomas Nowotny

    Thomas Nowotny teaches Political Science at the University of Vienna. He has been Austrian diplomat, private secretary to Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, senior political counselor to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and consultant to the OECD.   Print

  • Vlad Odobescu

    Freelance journalist, Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism, Bucharest
    Read more

  • Andrzej Paczkowski

    Professor für Geschichte, Institut für Politische Studien, Polnische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Warschau
    Read more

  • Emilia Palonen

    Politics, University of Essex
    Read more

  • Irina Papkova

    Irina Papkova is a Research Fellow of Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. She spent five years teaching at the Department of International Relations and European Studies at Central European University, Budapest.   Print

  • Agnieszka Pasieka

    Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the Martin Luther University, Halle/Saale
    Read more

  • Gleb Pavlovsky

    President, Center of Effective Policies; Member, Public Chamber of the Russian Federation; Editor-in-Chief, The Russian Journal, Moscow
    Read more

  • György Péteri

    Professor of Contemporary European History, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
    Read more

  • Tanja Petrovic

    Tanja Petrovic works at the Scientific Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana.   Print

  • David Petruccelli

    PhD candidate in History, Yale University
    Read more

  • Alexander von Plato

    Alexander von Plato ist ein deutscher Philosoph und Historiker. Er gründete das Instituts für Geschichte und Biographie an der Fernuniversität Hagen, das er bis 2007 leitete. Von 1996 bis 2000 war er Sekretär der International Oral History Association, von 2006 bis 2008 deren Vizepräsident. Er ist Mitherausgeber und Redakteur von BIOS – Zeitschrift für Biographieforschung, Oral …
    Read more

  • Andrei Pleșu

    Andrei Pleșu ist Rektor des New Europe College, Bukarest. 1989- 1991 war er rumänischer Kulturminister und 1997- 1999 rumänischer Außenminister.   Print

  • Martin Pollack

    Martin Pollack, geb. 1944 in OÖ, studierte Slawistik und osteuropäische Geschichte. Er war von 1987 bis 1998 Redakteur des “Spiegel” in Warschau und Wien und lebt heute als Schriftsteller und literarischer Übersetzer in Wien und Bocksdorf im Südburgenland. 2011 erhielt er den Leipziger Buchpreis zur Europäischen Verständigung und 2012 den Stanislaw-Vincenz-Preis. Zuletzt erschien von ihm …
    Read more

  • Krzysztof Pomian

    Krzysztof Pomian is Professor of History at the Nicolaus Copernicus University (Toruń) and Academic Director of the Museum of Europe in Brussels.   Print

  • Romano Prodi

    Romano Prodi war von September 1999 bis November 2004 Präsident der Europäischen Kommission.   Print

  • Lipin Ram

    PhD candidate and teaching assistant in Anthropology and Sociology of Development, Graduate Institute, Geneva
    Read more

  • Mykola Riabchuk

    Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Political and Nationalities’ Studies, Academy of Sciences, Kyiv
    Read more

  • Edelbert Richter

    Edelbert Richter ist deutscher Theologe, Politiker und war Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages.   Print

  • Paul Ricoeur

    Paul Ricoeur ist Philosoph und war Professor Emeritus an der University of Chicago und an der Sorbonne. Er war Mitglied der Académie Francaise und Mitglied des Wissenschaftlichen Beirats des IWM. Er starb 2005.   Print

  • Michel Rocard

    Michel Rocard, former First Secretary of the French Socialist Party and a member of the European Parliament for 15 years, was Prime Minister of France from 1988 to 1991.   Print

  • Akos Rona-Tas

    Akos Rona-Tas is professor at the Sociology Department of the University of California, San Diego and a research associate at Met@risk, INRA, Paris. He is the author of the books Plastic Money: Constructing Markets for Credit Cards in Eight Postcommunist Countries (with Alya Guseva, 2014) and Surprise of the Small Transformation: Demise of Communism and …
    Read more

  • Lew Rubinstein

    Lew Rubinstein lebt als Poet und Essayist in Moskau. Nach dem Studium der Philologie war er als Bibliothekar tätig. Seit Ende der 1960er-Jahre verfasst er poetische Arbeiten, seit 1974 serielle Textzyklen als so genannte Kartotheken. Zusammen mit Andrej Monastyrskij, Dimitrij A. Prigov und Vladimir Sorokin gilt er als wichtigster Vertreter des Moskauer Konzeptualismus. Print

  • Jacques Rupnik

    Geschichte und Politikwissenschaft, Paris
    Read more

  • Claudia Šabic

    Claudia Šabi? ist Politikwissenschaftlerin und Ethnologin. Seit 1998 ist sie Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin an der Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main. Print

  • Ranabir Samaddar

    Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group
    Read more

  • Paul Sanders

    Paul Sanders is a historian and management scholar. He is a full-time professor at Reims Management School in Reims, France. He has published across the disciplines of history, international relations and leadership.   Print

  • Karl Schlögel

    Karl Schlögel war Professor für Osteuropäische Geschichte zuerst an der Universität Konstanz, dann an der Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder. Nach seiner Emeritierung arbeitet er an einer Archäologie des Kommunismus und einer Geschichte des Wolgaraumes. Zurzeit ist er City of Vienna/IFK Fellow am IFK in Wien.     Print

  • Thomas Schmid

    Thomas Schmid is the publisher of the WELT Group, Berlin. He worked for various newspapers, among them as editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. From 2006 to 2010 he was Editor-in-Chief of Die Welt.   Print

  • Margit Schratzenstaller

    Margit Schratzenstaller is senior researcher at the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO) and is currently coordinating (together with Karl Aiginger and Stefan Ederer) ‘WWW for Europe’, a 4-year research project within the 7th Framework Program funded by the European Commission.   Print

  • Dieter Segert

    Dieter Segert ist Professor für Transformationsprozesse in Mittel-, Südost- und Osteuropa am Institut für Politikwissenschaft der Universität Wien. Seit September 2007 ist er Mitglied des Vorstandes des IDM Wien, seit Juni 2008 Mitglied der Leibniz-Sozietät der Wissenschaften zu Berlin.   Print

  • Victoriya Sereda

    Sociologie, Ivan-Franko-Universität, Lviv
    Read more

  • Michel Serres

    Michel Serres ist Philosoph und Mitglied der Académie Française.   Print

  • Anton Shekhovtsov

    PhD in Political Science
    Read more

  • Marci Shore

    Associate Professor of History, Yale University

    Visiting Fellow
    (July 2020 – June 2021)
    Read more

  • Sławomir Sierakowski

    Director, Institute for Advanced Study, Warsaw; Founder, "Krytyka Polityczna" movement
    Read more

  • Sara Silverstein

    Ph.D. Candidate in Modern European and International History, Yale University
    Read more

  • Ondřej Slačálek

    Assistant Professor of Political Science, Charles University, Prague
    Read more

  • Aleksander Smolar

    Political Science, Paris
    Read more

  • Timothy Snyder

    IWM Permanent Fellow
    Richard C. Levin Professor of History, Yale University
    Read more

  • George Soros

    George Soros is a pioneer of the hedge-fund industry, investor and philanthropist, he is the author of many books, including Financial Turmoil in Europe and the United States: Essays (2012), The Soros Lectures: At the Central European University (2010), The Crash of 2008 and What it Means: The New Paradigm for Finance Markets (2009).   …
    Read more

  • Robert Spaemann

    Robert Spaemann ist Professor em. für Philosophie an der Universität München.   Print

  • Pawel Spiewak

    Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology and Philosophy, Warsaw University
    Read more

  • Wilfried Stadler

    Wilfried Stadler ist Unternehmensberater, Wirtschaftspublizist und Honorarprofessor an der Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien. Bis 2009 war er Vorstandsvorsitzender einer österreichischen Spezialbank für Unternehmensfinanzierung.   Print

  • Rudolf Stamm

    Rudolf Stamm war von 1975 bis 1988 Korrespondent der Neuen Zürcher Zeitung für Osteuropa und Österreich, anschließend bis 1999 für Italien, dann bis zu seiner Pensionierung 2002 für die USA mit Sitz in Washington D.C. Er starb 2010 in der Schweiz. 1985 erscheinen seine NZZ-Reportagen aus Osteuropa in dem Band Alltag und Tradition in Osteuropa. …
    Read more

  • Paul Starr

    Paul Starr ist Professor für Soziologie an der Princeton University und Mitherausgeber von The American Prospect. Er ist Pulitzer-Preisträger.   Print

  • Martina Steer

    ÖAW APART Fellow (History)
    Read more

  • Kristina Stoeckl

    Research Director
    APART Fellow, Austrian Academy of Sciences; Department of Political Sciences, University of Vienna
    Read more

  • Roman Szporluk

    Roman Szporluk is Professor em. of Ukrainian History at Harvard and Professor em. of History at the University of Michigan. He is a foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences in Kiev, Ukraine. His research focuses on modern Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish history, and on Marxism and nationalism in Eastern Europe.   Print

  • Charles Taylor

    IWM Permanent Fellow
    Professor em. of Philosophy, McGill University, Montréal
    Read more

  • Maria Teteriuk

    PhD candidate in Mass Communications and senior lecturer in Media Studies, National University of 'Kyiv-Mohyla Academy', Ukraine
    Read more

  • Philipp Ther

    Junior Professor of Polish and Ukrainian Studies, Europa-Universität Frankfurt / Oder
    Read more

  • Maria Todorova

    Professor of History, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
    Read more

  • Balázs Trencsényi

    Balázs Trencsényi, Ph.D., is Associate Professor at the Department of History, CEU. His research focuses on the comparative history of political thought in East Central Europe and the history of historiography. He is co-director of Pasts, Inc., Center for Historical Studies at CEU and Associate Editor of the periodical East Central Europe (Brill). He was …
    Read more

  • Stefan Troebst

    Read more

  • Marius Turda

    Lecturer in the Education Abroad Program, Eötvös Lorand University, Faculty of Humanities, Budapest
    Read more

  • Andreas Umland

    Andreas Umland ist Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut für Euro-Atlantische Kooperation Kiew sowie Herausgeber der Buchreihe Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society, ibidem-Verlag Stuttgart. Print

  • Victoria Vasilenko

    Assistant Professor of Contemporary History and International Relations, Belgorod National Research University
    Read more

  • David G. Victor

    David G. Victor is a Professor at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego, where he directs the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation.   Print

  • Harald Welzer

    Harald Welzer ist Forschungsprofessor für Sozialpsychologie an der Universität Witten/Herdecke und Direktor des Center for Interdisciplinary Memory Research am Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts Essen.   Print

  • Karolina Wigura

    Adjunct of the History of Ideas, University of Warsaw; Co-Editor of Kultura Liberalna
    Read more

  • Volodymyr Yermolenko

    Volodymyr Yermolenko is a Ukrainian philosopher and essayist. He has a degree in Political Science from the EHESS, Paris, and teaches at Kyiv Mohyla Academy in Kyiv. He is the author of the book Narrator and Philosopher: Walter Benjamin and his time (2011, in Ukrainian). Print

  • Oksana Zabuzhko

    Free-lance writer, Kiev
    Read more

  • Tatiana Zhurzhenko

    IWM Research Director, Russia in Global Dialogue and Ukraine in European Dialogue
    Read more