The German Expellee Organizations: Unity, Division, and Function
Ahonen, P. (2016). The German Expellee Organizations: Unity, Division, and Function. In M. Borutta, & J. C. Jansen (Eds.), Vertriebene and Pieds-Noirs in Postwar Germany and France : Comparative Perspectives (pp. 115-132). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137508416_6
© Ahonen, 2016. This is a final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published by Palgrave Macmillan. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
In the early twenty-first century, the German expellee organizations (Vertriebenenverbände) are typically portrayed as a united entity, at least in the wider public realm. The dominance of the umbrella group Bund der Vertriebenen (BdV) tends to foster the perception that the German expellee lobby is a homogeneous and cohesive bloc, focused on promoting shared political goals. This has been evident, for instance, in the media coverage of the prolonged controversy about the proposed establishment of a Center Against Expulsions in Berlin, in which the BdV’s statements have generally been taken to represent the expellee movement as a whole.1 But how correct is that interpretation, particularly in a longer historical perspective, stretching back to the rise of the expellee organizations from the late 1940s? What principal organizations emerged among the German expellees? How united or divided have these organizations been? How representative have they been, vis-à-vis their presumed followers? What broader functions have they served, among the expellees and in wider society? These are the questions that this chapter addresses. It starts with a concise overview of the main German expellee organizations and their development and proceeds to wider observations about the unity, divisions, representativeness, and functions of these organizations. It also attempts to highlight some parallels and contrasts between these groups and the pied-noir organizations in France. ...
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