A Forgotten Genocide – The Systematic Ethnic Cleansing of Germans in Post-War Europe

Forgotten GenocideIt is estimated that between 12 and 15 million ethnic Germans, including children, were systematically expelled, tortured, raped, put in camps, starved, enslaved and executed after World War II from 1944-1948, and later.  Their only crime was being German. These actions were many cases government sanctioned and done in full knowledge of the victorious allies. To date, no one has ever been held accountable, and most do not know or do not acknowledge this genocide.

The following 80 minute documentary film details the plight of the “Donauschwaben” (Danube Swabians) and includes interviews with survivors of this genocide:

More background information and individual stories can be found here:

Watch on YouTube

Audio Lecture:  A Forgotten Genocide: Germans in Postwar Central Europe
(IHR) Dr. Tom Sunic, March 6, 2010

Dr. Sunic provides an overview of the brutal “ethnic cleansing” of Germans in the aftermath of World War Two, in which some twelve million people, mostly women, children and elderly, were forcibly expelled from centuries-old homelands in eastern and central Europe. Of these, some two million were killed or otherwise perished. In this address at an IHR meeting, the European-American scholar contrasts the way in which this massive genocide is all but ignored in the US media, whereas Jewish “victimology” has become a central feature of our society’s “civic religion.”

The Destruction of Ethnic Germans and German Prisoners of War
in Yugoslavia, 1945-1953

Dr. Tomislav Sunic

EXCERPT: From the European and American media, one can often get the impression that World War II needs to be periodically resurrected to give credibility to financial demands of one specific ethnic group, at the expense of others. The civilian deaths of the war’s losing side are, for the most part, glossed over. Standard historiography of World War II is routinely based on a sharp and polemical distinction between the “ugly” fascists who lost, and the “good” anti-fascists who won, and few scholars are willing to inquire into the gray ambiguity in between. Even as the events of that war become more distant in time, they seemingly become more politically useful and timely as myths.

German military and civilian losses during and especially after World War II are still shrouded by a veil of silence, at least in the mass media, even though an impressive body of scholarly literature exists on that topic. The reasons for this silence, due in large part to academic negligence, are deep rooted and deserve further scholarly inquiry. Why, for instance, are German civilian losses, and particularly the staggering number of postwar losses among ethnic Germans, dealt with so sketchily, if at all, in school history courses? The mass media — television, newspapers, film and magazines — rarely, if ever, look at the fate of the millions of German civilians in central and eastern Europe during and following World War II. [1]

The treatment of civilian ethnic Germans — or Volksdeutsche — in Yugoslavia may be regarded as a classic case of “ethnic cleansing” on a grand scale. [2] A close look at these mass killings presents a myriad of historical and legal problems, especially when considering modern international law, including the Hague War Crimes Tribunal that has been dealing with war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Balkan wars of 1991-1995. Yet the plight of Yugoslavia’s ethnic Germans during and after World War II should be of no lesser concern to historians, not least because an understanding of this chapter of history throws a significant light on the violent breakup of Communist Yugoslavia 45 years later. A better understanding of the fate of Yugoslavia’s ethnic Germans should encourage skepticism of just how fairly and justly international law is applied in practice. Why are the sufferings and victimhood of some nations or ethnic groups ignored, while the sufferings of other nations and groups receive fulsome and sympathetic attention from the media and politicians?

At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, more than one and a half million ethnic Germans were living in southeastern Europe, that is, in Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Romania. Because they lived mostly near and along the Danube river, these people were popularly known “Danube Swabians” or Donauschwaben. Most were descendants of settlers who came to this fertile region in the 17th and 18th centuries following the liberation of Hungary from Turkish rule.

For centuries the Holy Roman Empire and then the Habsburg Empire struggled against Turkish rule in the Balkans, and resisted the “Islamization” of Europe. In this struggle the Danube Germans were viewed as a rampart of Western civilization, and were held in high esteem in the Austrian (and later, Austro-Hungarian) empire for their agricultural productivity and military prowess. Both the Holy Roman and Habsburg empires were multicultural and multinational entities, in which diverse ethnic groups lived for centuries in relative harmony.

After the end of World War I, in 1918, which brought the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg empire, and the imposed Versailles Treaty of 1919, the juridical status of the Donauschwaben Germans was in flux. When the National Socialist regime was established in Germany in 1933, the Donauschwaben were among the more than twelve million ethnic Germans who lived in central and eastern Europe outside the borders of the German Reich. Many of these people were brought into the Reich with the incorporation of Austria in 1938, of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia in 1939, and of portions of Poland in late 1939. The “German question,” that is, the struggle for self-determination of ethnic Germans outside the borders of the German Reich, was a major factor leading to the outbreak of World War II. Even after 1939, more than three million ethnic Germans remained outside the borders of the expanded Reich, notably in Romania, Yugoslavia, Hungary and the Soviet Union.

In the first Yugoslavia — a monarchical state created in 1919 largely as a result of efforts of the victorious Allied powers — most of the country’s ethnic Germans were concentrated in eastern Croatia and northern Serbia (notably in the Vojvodina region), with some German towns and villages in Slovenia. Other ethnic Germans lived in western Romania and south-eastern Hungary.

This first multiethnic Yugoslav state of 1919-1941 had a population of some 14 million people of diverse cultures and religions. On the eve of World War II it included nearly six million Serbs, about three million Croats, more than a million Slovenes, some two million Bosnian Muslims and ethnic Albanians, approximately half a million ethnic Germans, and another half million ethnic Hungarians. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia in April 1941, accelerated by a rapid German military advance, approximately 200,000 ethnic Germans became citizens of the newly established Independent State of Croatia, a country whose military and civil authorities remained loyally allied with Third Reich Germany until the final week of the war in Europe. [3] Most of the remaining ethnic Germans of former Yugoslavia — approximately 300,000 in the Vojvodina region — came under the jurisdiction of Hungary, which during the war incorporated the region. (After 1945 this region was reattached to the Serbian portion of Yugoslavia.)

The plight of the ethnic Germans became dire during the final months of World War II, and especially after the founding of the second Yugoslavia, a multiethnic Communist state headed by Marshal Josip Broz Tito. In late October 1944, Tito’s guerilla forces, aided by the advancing Soviets and lavishly assisted by Western air supplies, took control of Belgrade, the Serb capital that also served as the capital of Yugoslavia . One of the first legal acts of the new regime was the decree of November 21, 1944, on “The decision regarding the transfer of the enemy’s property into the property of the state.” It declared citizens of German origin as “enemies of the people,” and stripped them of civic rights. The decree also ordered the government confiscation of all property, without compensation, of Yugoslavia’s ethnic Germans. [4] An additional law, promulgated in Belgrade on February 6, 1945, canceled the Yugoslav citizenship of the country’s ethnic Germans. [5]

By late 1944 — when Communist forces had seized control of the eastern Balkans, that is, of Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia — the German-allied state of Croatia still held firm. However, in early 1945, German troops, together with Croatian troops and civilians, began retreating toward southern Austria. During the war’s final months, the majority of Yugoslavia’s ethnic German civilians also joined this great trek. The refugees’ fears of torture and death at Communist hands were well founded, given the horrific treatment by Soviet forces of Germans and others in East Prussia and other parts of eastern Europe. By the end of the war in May 1945, German authorities had evacuated 220,000 ethnic Germans from Yugoslavia to Germany and Austria. Yet many remained in their war-ravaged ancestral homelands, most likely awaiting a miracle.

After the end of fighting in Europe on May 8, 1945, more than 200,000 ethnic Germans who had remained behind in Yugoslavia effectively became captives of the new Communist regime. Some 63,635 Yugoslav ethnic German civilians (women, men and children) perished under Communist rule between 1945 and 1950 — that is, some 18 percent of the ethnic German civilian population still remaining in the new Yugoslavia. Most died as a result of exhaustion as slave laborers, in “ethnic cleansing,” or from disease and malnutrition. [6] Much of the credit for the widely-praised “economic miracle” of Titoist Yugoslavia, it should be noted, must go to the tens of thousands of German slave laborers who, during the late 1940s, helped to build the impoverished country.

Property of ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia confiscated in the aftermath of World War II amounted to 97,490 small businesses, factories, shops, farms and diverse trades. The confiscated real estate and farmland of Yugoslavia’s ethnic Germans came to 637,939 hectares (or about one million acres), and became state-owned property. According to a 1982 calculation, the value of the property confiscated from ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia amounted to 15 billion German marks, or about seven billion US dollars. Taking inflation into account, this would today correspond to twelve billion US dollars. From 1948 to 1985, more than 87,000 ethnic Germans who were still residing in Yugoslavia moved to Germany and automatically became German citizens. [7]

All this constitutes a “final solution of the German question” in Yugoslavia.

Please continue reading here: http://www.ihr.org/other/sunic062002.html

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1 Response to A Forgotten Genocide – The Systematic Ethnic Cleansing of Germans in Post-War Europe

  1. Hans says:

    Tom Sunic is a very knowledgeable guy. Here are some interviews he made on Voice of Reason regarding ethnic cleansing:

    Interview with Margaret L. Siegrist
    Margaret L. Siegrist is the author of the book How Far Away Is Never, which describes her terrible ordeal of a five-year-old German-Croat girl fleeing Communist massacres.

    Interview with Ann Morrison
    Ann Morrison, a film maker, discusses her soon to be released film The Forgotten Genocide, a documentary about the ethnic cleansing of the German populations in Eastern Europe after WW2.

    Interview with Hans Kopp
    Life in a Communist death camp in Yugoslavia: starvation, one set of clothes, hygiene & sleeping conditions, crowding, death rates in camps, mass graves

    Interview with Rev. Henry A. Fischer
    Dr. Sunic & Rev. Fischer discuss the destruction of Danube Swabian Germans

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