Still Yearning for the Lost Heimat? Ethnic German Expellees and the Politics of Belonging

in German Politics and Society

As a result of Nazi race politics, World War II, and the restructuring

of Europe in the postwar era, the painful experience of forced migration

became a reality in the lives of many Europeans. About 12 million1

ethnic Germans shared the fate of being forced to leave their

ancestral areas of settlement in Eastern and Eastern/Central Europe

between 1939 and 1948. These people were either forced to move

“back to the Reich” by the Nazi government, fled from advancing

enemy forces in 1944/45, or were forced out of their homes by Eastern

and Central European postwar governments.

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