The Federation of Expellees and the Impact of Memory on German-Polish Relations

in German Politics and Society
Author: Karl Cordell
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This paper seeks to investigate the role played by memory in the Federation of Expellees (Bund der Vertriebenen, BdV) professed attempts to enter into dialogue with Polish society. It also seeks to assess why on occasion mutual recrimination continues to tarnish the wider framework of German-Polish relations and explain the reasons for this phenomenon. The initial focus lies with explaining the continued importance of key, often disputed, elements of the historical encounter between Germans and Poles. To complement this analysis, the latter part of the article considers whether the BdV and its associated organizations have contributed to the wider process of German-Polish reconciliation, or whether the activities of the BdV act as a brake upon full resolution. The paper argues that although in recent years the BdV has attempted to make a positive contribution to German-Polish relations, its chances for success are constrained by its inability to move away from positions that are themselves the product of memory.