• Germany's news in English

Expellee Federation admits Nazi past

The Local · 22 Nov 2012, 12:44

Published: 22 Nov 2012 12:44 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Head of the Federation of Expellees (BdV) Erika Steinbach said she was "not surprised" at revelations that eight of the 13 members on the federation's first committee were former Nazi party members, and a further three had been close supporters of the regime, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said on Thursday.

Several of the federation's early leaders had even been members of the SS, according to the study by the German Institute for Contemporary History in Munich.

In at least one case, the authors believed it "very probable" that a committee member had been involved in the mass murder of Jews on the eastern front, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper said on Monday.

These admissions stand in stark contrast to a 2010 version of the study which played down the connections between the organisation and the Nazi party, said the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

The revelations in themselves are not shocking, said Steinbach in a BdV press release. The Nazi pasts of early BdV founders would only surprise those who believed what she called the West German official state myth that government institutions had undergone a radical cleansing process after 1945, she argued.

It is widely known, for example, that former Nazis such as Hans Globke were employed in the first West German administration under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

Even in East Germany, where de-nazification was supposedly pursued with fervour, 25 percent of the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) were former members of the Nazi party in 1949, said Steinbach.

In addition, many heroes of the post-war cultural Germany such as Günter Grass or Walter Jens have had to "live with their not-so-flawless CVs since then," wrote Steinbach.

According to study author German historian Michael Schwartz, who helped investigate the backgrounds of the 1958 BdV committee members, 84 percent had openly supported the Nazis.

This proportion, he told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Wednesday, was "far above average" when compared to other West German post-war institutions.

Many of the expellees had been Nazi colonizers who volunteered to settle in regions acquired by the Third Reich in the late 1930s and invaded during the Second World War.

In the chaos of 1945, the settlers were driven out of the then mainly German-speaking Sudetenland - acquired by Nazi Germany in 1938 - on the German-Czechoslovakian border, along with ethnic Germans who had been living there for generations.

Settlers were also forced out of the now Polish regions of Silesia, East Prussia and Pomerania.

Having lost their belongings, homes and territory, in the post-war period the expellees insisted on presenting themselves as victims, a view frowned upon by the Western Allies.

Story continues below…

Lobbying for the recognition of the expellees' suffering in the late 1950s and 1960s, the BdV called for compensation, an end to the policy of de-nazification and for the return of German territory lost in 1945, wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Still a powerful lobbying group today, the BdV continues to campaign for a controversial memorial foundation for those expelled after the war.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

16:55 November 22, 2012 by William Thirteen
in other news, bears reputed to sh*t in the woods...
18:30 November 22, 2012 by raandy
Or in the buckwheat.
18:52 November 22, 2012 by Onlythetruth
The Federation of Expellees deserves to be expelled at the very least. Those poor suffering nazis are so pitiful, lets all cry one big alligator tear for those desperately wronged germans who thought they could wring some sympathy from us because the brutal way they treated the eastern europeans didn't bring the permanent results they expected.
00:44 November 23, 2012 by olog-hai
Busted. But this bunch was exposed by german-foreign-policy.com a number of years back. What's worse is the federal government in Berlin actually legitimizing their revanchism, whether it has to do with Prussia, the Sudetenland or South Tyrol. (Then again, there are lots of people in the federal government who have no problem telling Greece to sell their islands, right?)
Today's headlines
Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.

The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.

Anger as Berlin scraps Turkey concert on Armenia genocide
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

10 ways German completely messes up your English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd