This article discusses the respective origins and developments of the German expellee organizations' chief days of commemoration, the Tag der Heimat and the Volkstrauertag, and investigates key elements of the commemorative ceremonies that take place on these occasions, in particular, their liturgical setups, thematic mottos, recitations of Totenehrungen, and the performance of "Ich hatt' einen Kameraden." Despite assertions that the expulsion has been insufficiently commemorated in the Federal Republic, and in spite of recent calls for a national day of remembrance to rectify this commemorative lacuna, this article shows how the expulsion has been memorialized on various levels for decades. Moreover, it argues that the expellee organizations' historical narratives have been one-sided and de-contextualized and sheds light on how the ceremonies bring these understandings of the past to life by highlighting German wartime suffering.
Erika Steinbach, Die Macht der Erinnerung, 2nd ed. (Vienna: Universitas Verlag, 2011).