Link: German Expulsions after the Second World War

There’s a terrific [excerpt][1] from R. M. Douglas’s new book _Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans After the Second World War_ on the Chronicle. Perhaps even better than the book is the following comment from one of the readers:

> Having grown up with this story, I am fully aware both of the horrors of that period, and also the lack of attention it has received in histories of, and discussions about, the end of World War II. But I have two critical clarifications to make: language does not equal ethnicity, and ethnicity is rarely homogeneous, particularly in a heterogeneous country such as the former Czechoslovakia. In some points of the article, Mr. Douglas refers to the deportees as “German-speaking” but then conflates that with being ethnically German or just German. German-speaking is also conflated with being sympathetic to the political cause of the state of Germany during the war, and, by association, the Holocaust. Neither characterization is true.

> Taking my own family as an example, while primarily German-speaking (family members spoke both German and Czech) genealogy traced back to the 15th century shows both Slavic and Germanic heritage, along with a variety of other ethnicities. The labelling of any group of individuals, as one singular ethnicity based on their language, hair color, or any other aspect is a slippery slope, as DNA testing is increasingly showing.

> Politics loves simplicity, so by characterizing a group of individuals based on their language, it is easy to set one group against a recognizable “other.” But historical analysis, in striving to clarify the the wrongs of policy and in an attempt to prevent it from happening again, should strive for clarity. Deportations and executions during the periods of mass expulsion were cloaked in “German-ness” but were really an excuse for the political forces in power to rid themselves of those they felt we undesirable in one way or another. Many citizens, with only a tenuous link to “German-ness” or really no link at all, were either executed or expelled in those post-war years when combat had ceased and peace supposedly reigned.