Refugees in Central and Eastern Europe - 1939/50.

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Re: Refugees in Central and Eastern Europe - 1939/50.

Post by tigre » 27 Sep 2020 18:29

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Evacuation from the Baltic States and the German eastern provinces.

As early as August 1944, the Commander-in-Chief of the Fourth Army, General Friedrich Hossbach, proposed the preventive evacuation of civilians from the eastern regions of East Prussia, but the political leadership condemned the proposals as defeatism and banned them until it was too late. On October 16, 1944, the Red Army, that is, the Belarusian Third Front under the command of General Tschernjachowski, began a major offensive with five armies (40 rifle divisions and numerous tank units) against the eastern border of East Prussia. in a width of around 140 kilometers.

Soviet aircraft squadrons doused Gumbinnen with masses of bombs and caused considerable damage. They managed to crush much of the German artillery and anti-tank weapons. The German 1st Infantry Division, which had to intercept the frontal attack, suffered terrible losses. Any weapon that still fired formed a nest of resistance. The grenadiers who survived the hand-to-hand combat made their way to these points, but were overwhelmed by the Russians. Only a few stragglers were able to make their way to the next containment line.

The Soviets had not yet crossed the border, but the danger was so obvious that the Ebenrode district administrator had his entire district evacuated. Short-term evacuation orders were issued for the Schloßberg district on October 17 and the same day for the communities in the north and east of the Goldap district; for the Gumbinnen district only on October 20, when the Russians had already invaded the district. An orderly evacuation was no longer possible in the panic mood, and the hasty flight resulted in savage confusion. The marches moved west to the districts of Goldap, Angerapp, Gumbinnen, Schloßberg, Tilsit and Ragnit. Many were run over by the Russians on the way.

Meanwhile, on October 18, Hitler had ordered the formation of the Volkssturm. “While the enemy believes it can strike the last blow, we are determined to carry out the second large-scale operation of our people. We will and must succeed, as in the years 1939-1940, relying solely on our strength, not only to break the enemy's will to destroy, but to repel them and keep them away from the Reich until the future of Germany, its allies and the peace of Europe is guaranteed. "

Inadequately armed and equipped, "all 16- to 60-year-old men able to arm themselves" could not withstand the allied armies of millions, even fighting valiantly for every house. Gauleiter Koch dispatched the untrained men of the Volkssturm, Volkssturm Goldap's replacement battalion, which had 400 men and consisted of four companies, to their deaths. Uniforms, dog tags, first aid kits and blankets were not delivered.

Source: Die Flucht. Alfred M. de Zayas.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Refugees in Central and Eastern Europe - 1939/50.

Post by tigre » 04 Oct 2020 18:06

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Evacuation from the Baltic States and the German eastern provinces.

On October 19, the Russians broke into Reich territory. Locations were lost and were taken again by the Wehrmacht until they had to surrender to the superior Russian forces. On October 20, the Russians deployed new tank formations of the 11th Guard Army (Colonel General Galitzki). They crossed the Angerapp river and overran Nemmersdorf in the Gumbinnen district. On October 21st there was a danger that Gumbinnen itself might fall into Russian hands. The German defense was reinforced, and the Volkssturm was deployed.

By October 23, the Goldaper Battalion had lost 76 men to death and injuries. The wounded who fell into the hands of the Russians were probably shot as partisans because they fought without uniforms. But the deep break in as far as Nemmersdorf was to mark the climax of the October offensive, because a pincer attack succeeded in cutting off the Russians who had broken through and setting up a new defensive front on the Rominte. The Russians kept Tilsit, Trakehnen and Ebenrode in their hands, but stopped advancing west.

They did not attack again until January 12, 1945. Nemmersdorf was one of the many liberated villages. How did the German population fare during the occupation? The agonizing events are documented by many eyewitnesses. For example, the former Chief of Staff of the 4th Army, Major General Erich Dethleffsen: Some tortured like nailing to barn doors - shot by Russian soldiers. A large number of women were raped beforehand. Around 50 French prisoners of war were shot by Russian soldiers. "

The eyewitness oberleutnant Dr. Heinrich Amberger continued to report on Nemmersdorf: On the roadside and in the courtyards of the houses lay masses of corpses of civilians who apparently had not been killed by stray bullets in the course of the fighting but were murdered according to plan. Among other things, I saw numerous women who, judging by the location of the displaced and torn clothing, had been raped and then shot in the neck; In some cases, the children who were also killed were also lying next to them. «At the time, Swiss correspondents also reported on Nemmersdorf.

On November 7, 1944, the Geneva-based “Courrier” published an eyewitness report by its special correspondent on the Eastern Front: “The situation is not only marked by the bitter fighting of the regular troops, but unfortunately also by the mutilation and execution of prisoners and the almost complete extermination of the Germans rural population. ”The number of victims is given differently. It can be assumed that between 50 and 80 civilians were killed. But a lot of blood had previously been shed by the Germans in the Soviet Union and Poland. The slogans of Soviet writers added fuel to the fire. For example, Ilja Ehrenburg let himself be carried away to the statement in a leaflet: “The Germans are not human. From now on the word 'German' is the worst curse for us ... for us there is nothing more amusing than German corpses. "

Source: Die Flucht. Alfred M. de Zayas.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Refugees in Central and Eastern Europe - 1939/50.

Post by tigre » 11 Oct 2020 15:24

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Evacuation from the Baltic States and the German eastern provinces.

Similarly, he wrote in the soldiers' newspaper “Krasnaya Zvezda” on October 24, 1944: “We are in the homeland of Erich Koch, the governor of Ukraine, that says it all. We have repeated it quite often: the judgment is near! Now it is there. "Also:" It is not enough to drive the Germans west. The Germans must be chased to the grave. Certainly a defeated Fritz is better than an insolent one. But of all the Frizts, the dead are the best. "

The writings of Alexei Tolstoy, Simonov, Surkov and many others also had a great influence on the morale of the troops. Three months later, during the successful January offensive, a Soviet reporter wrote in front of the burning Insterburg: “There is no more educational spectacle than a hostile city on fire. You look for a feeling in your soul that is similar to compassion, but you cannot find it. . . Burn, Germany, you don't deserve better. I do not forgive you and I will not forgive you for anything you have done to us. . . Burn, damn Germany. "

As a clear contrast to these slogans for soldiers, Stalin's 55th daily order, with which he sought to calm the world, read: "Sometimes it is gossip that the Red Army aims to exterminate the German people ... It would be ridiculous to equate the Hitler's clique with the German people, the German state. The experience of history shows that the Hitlerites come and go, but the German people, the German state remains. " Words of reason, if Stalin could be taken seriously here, and yet they only seem like a pitiful arabesque on the brink of the harsh reality of the war in East Germany.

Because what happened in Nemmersdorf in October 1944 was repeated in countless towns in East Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia in the last months of the war. So for example in Metgethen, a suburb of Königsberg, which was in Russian hands from January 29 to February 19, 1945, then it was liberated again by the 5th Panzer Division and the 1st German Infantry Division. There, 32 civilians were detained on a fenced tennis court and blown up by an electrically detonated mine. Several women were raped and later killed.

What happened there was announced by Gauleiter Koch in great detail through leaflets to incite the population to desperate resistance. In addition, Goebbels airlifted the perseverance film "Kolberg" to Königsberg to be shown everywhere. Veit Harlan's film, shot in 1943, portrays the fate of the inhabitants of the Pomeranian city of Kolberg, who, under the leadership of Gneisenau and Nettelbeck, did not hand over their city to Napoleonic troops in the Franco-Prussian war of 1806 / 07 even when the defeated Prussian army fled to East Prussia.

Source: Die Flucht. Alfred M. de Zayas.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Refugees in Central and Eastern Europe - 1939/50.

Post by tigre » 18 Oct 2020 18:58

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Evacuation from the Baltic States and the German eastern provinces.

The events that took place when the Red Army entered represent the deepest point of humiliation that the East Germans had to experience. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, then a young captain in the Red Army, describes his regiment's invasion of East Prussia in January 1945: “After three weeks of war in Germany, we knew: if the girls had been German, all of us was allowed to rape them, then shoot them, and that almost considered an act of war. . He described a scene in Neidenburg even more impressively in his poem "East Prussian Nights":

Twenty-two, Höringstrasse.
No fire yet, but desolate, looted.
Drowned by the wall - a groan:
I still find the mother alive.
Were there many on the mattress? company? platoon?
What are they doing! Daughter - still child, soon dead.
All simply according to the motto:
DO NOT FORGET!
NOTHING FORGIVENESS! BLOOD FOR BLOOD!
And tooth for tooth.
Who is still a virgin becomes a woman,
and women - soon to corpses.
With already hazy, bloody eyes, she pleads:
> Kill me, soldier! <"

Solzhenitsyn opposed such treatment of innocent people and was arrested for this and banished to the GULAG. The same thing happened to Major Lev Kopelev. But in his "History of the Great Patriotic War", Professor Boris Telpuchowski of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the Central Committee of the CPSU wrote: "The behavior of the Soviet soldiers, the students of the CP, towards the German population was human."

But thousands of women who were unable to flee preferred suicide to rape and abuse. The number of suicides in East Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia is downright terrifying. Mrs. E. S. de Rössel in East Prussia reports: “Around February 20, 1945, Soviet units arrived at Rössel. . . The looting took place day and night. The rapes never stopped. Many women, p. Eg B. Mrs. B. asked Dr. N. at the hospital about the poison. Did not exist. Among those who were brutally abused by wild men were children aged 13-14, such as the 14-year-old daughter of WF and the 13-year-old daughter of the merchant VM. The Russian soldiers took my friend EW to her mother. She was weak and could not walk for a long time. She was ill.

A girl from the settlement could no longer bear the rape, took a synthetic liquid high in acetic acid and died in excruciating pain. Another girl hanged herself for the same reason, as did a refugee ”. Reference to drunk soldiers is common in many reports. Because there were reserves of alcohol everywhere, in private cellars, in brandy distilleries.

Hans Graf von Lehndorff offers another example of the senseless slaughter of civilians, whose brother and mother fled desperately and waited for the Russians on a farm near Altmark in West Prussia. By the afternoon of January 25 they were there: “In the dining room. . . my brother was seriously injured with the knife. My mother was able to bandage it badly. Then other Russians came, asked who he was and then they shot him and my mother together. "

Source: Die Flucht. Alfred M. de Zayas.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Refugees in Central and Eastern Europe - 1939/50.

Post by tigre » 25 Oct 2020 15:11

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The treks.

Train traffic from East Prussia to the Reich was blocked on all routes by January 22nd at the latest. The treks couldn't get through either, because on January 26th East Prussia was cut off at Elbing; it was no longer possible to flee from east to west. The treks on the way had to give way to the north. The circle closed ever closer.

Allenstein fell on January 21, Rastenburg on January 26, Sensburg and Rössel on January 28. The treks streamed north to the Frischen Haff, in the districts of Pr. Eylau, Heilsberg, Braunsberg and Heiligenbeil. The way over icy roads and thundering snowstorms was not easy. The women had to do it alone because the men were in the Volkssturm. The horses kept slipping, wagons collapsed. There was a lack of food, especially milk for the toddlers.

How much hard work, burden and need the East German women carried on the refugee treks! Happy were those who had helpful French and Belgian prisoners of war to support them. Most of them had worked in factories or in the country for over four years. When the hour to flee came, many decided to go west with them instead of being liberated by the Russian soldiers. Grateful East Prussians have paid tribute to such assistance in many reports: “With two carts, of which the French drove one and my daughter drove the other, we set off across the lagoon. At that time the ice had already become very rotten and brittle, and on the journey you could see many places where refugees had gone down with things that had been rescued to the lagoon. Here, too, he removed all the difficulties that prevented us from escaping. . . "

When in many cases the treks were overrun by the Russians, it was the French and Belgian prisoners of war who protected the women from harassment. "They came in groups with carts and handcarts, and when they noticed that the Russians were about to attack us, they took us into the middle of their column." Again and again prisoners of war passed off young German girls as their wives.

The drama of flight includes countless scenes of despair and need. The escape of the East Prussians over the Frische Haff and the Nehrung turned out to be downright catastrophic. The ice was brittle. In places the refugees had to drag themselves through 25 centimeters high water. With sticks they felt the area in front of them. Countless bomb craters forced them to detour. Often one slipped and felt already lost. The clothes, completely soaked, allowed only heavy movements. But the fear of death drove away the chills that chased over the body. The farmer's wife I. S. from Großroden, Tilsit district in East Prussia, saw her trek being attacked by low-level planes: “The bombs punched holes and whole rows of wagons went under. We had no courage to live and waited longingly for death. . . When this attack was over, we survivors drove on. "

On the way on the Nehrung, women were given birth in carts; and when the last piece of bread was already eaten, the refugees looked everywhere for food. And even worse than hunger was thirst. But water was not allowed to be drunk because of the risk of typhus.

The road across the Nehrung was so narrow that two wagons next to each other had only very little space. On the left the ice surface of the lagoon shimmered, on the right was forest. A third of the carts had already broken down on the ice, another third broke on the road. If someone had a broken wheel, a traffic jam developed that lasted a few hours. Another hole, again deepest mud, again a hill! Would you still get through? On some days you could only go three to five kilometers.

Source: Die Flucht. Alfred M. de Zayas.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Refugees in Central and Eastern Europe - 1939/50.

Post by tigre » 01 Nov 2020 15:09

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The escape from Danzig-West Prussia and Pomerania.

Since the end of January 1945, the northern part of West Prussia with Danzig and the Hela Peninsula and East Pomerania have been the catchment basin and the transit area for the refugees from East Prussia and the western Polish areas. Many of them went on to Pomerania, some of them could reach the territory west of the Oder by rail from Danzig or by ship. Apart from these refugees, about three million Germans lived in the area between East Prussia and the lower reaches of the Oder: 400,000 in Danzig itself, 620,000 in West Prussia and 1.6 million in East Pomerania.

Although, in contrast to the Province of East Prussia, detailed evacuation plans had been drawn up for West Prussia since autumn 1944, their issuance was delayed in January until the plans were overtaken by events. Evacuation was only carried out on January 18 in isolated eastern districts such as Neumark. In contrast, the districts of Rosenberg and Marienwerder only received permission to flee on January 20, the districts of Stuhm and Marienburg on January 23. Russian tanks reached these areas on January 23 on their advance to Elbing and hit several treks east of Nogat and Vistula.

The focus of the escape movement was of course the Vistula crossings at Marienwerder and Dirschau as well as at the Nogat near Marienburg. Amazingly, about 80 percent of the people crowded together in Elbing managed to escape to Danzig and Pomerania before the city was captured by Soviet troops on February 10th. At the same time, the Germans from Graudenz, Thorn and Bromberg also fled. The roads were blocked everywhere and the Vistula bridges were reserved for the Wehrmacht columns, so that the treks had to cross the ice. In these areas were not only the numerous native German population, but also the 300,000 resettled ethnic Germans from the Baltic states, Volhynia and Bessarabia. On January 25, the Posen fortress (festung) was encircled, but only after a large part of the German population had been evacuated by rail. On February 23, Posen had to surrender.

In the meantime the German Wehrmacht succeeded in gaining small territories in Pomerania and liberating part of the German population. The farmer A. S. from Schlagenthin, Arnswalde district, reported that the Russians had occupied the place on February 5th, shot many residents and raped the women. However, when heavy fighting broke out on February 16, the Russians withdrew. About 150 people immediately fled to the German front, but over 700 remained behind, and the Russians caught them again the next day and some of them were abducted.

In February, the front barely changed, running along the Graudenz-Zempelburg-Märkisch Friedland-Stargard-Pyritz line. This four-week break from the fighting was largely not used to flee, because the locals and many refugees from East and West Prussia were tempted to stay in these areas by the relative calm. In addition, the party authorities for all of Pomerania and northern West Prussia expressly forbade the population to flee and in some cases also forbade the treks coming from the east to continue their journey. Therefore, at least 2.5 million Germans, a quarter of them refugees, were in Pomerania and Danzig when the new Russian attack began in the first days of March. Within two weeks the Soviet armies - supported by the 1st Polish Army - took possession of all of East Pomerania. They reached the mouth of the Oder near Stettin and cut off the escape routes. Many went in the direction of Kolberg, from there either by ship or along the Baltic coast to Gnadenfrei, then to Liegnitz and Görlitz. There was panic among the refugees at the train station. The crowds gathered in front of the train doors. One yanked the other from the door. Children were separated from their mothers. Old women wandered about without any luggage. They had lost their minds and no longer knew their name and where they came from. The German Red Cross and the NSV (National Socialist People's Welfare) did what they could to help. When the Russians closed the ring around Breslau in mid-February, about 200,000 civilians were still in the city. An estimated 40,000 were killed in the ensuing air strikes and fighting. But the fortress held. Not until 6/7. May the city capitulated: Gauleiter Hanke had previously been flown out.

Source: Die Flucht. Alfred M. de Zayas.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Refugees in Central and Eastern Europe - 1939/50.

Post by tigre » 08 Nov 2020 17:41

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The refugees in the west

In the last months of the war, about half of the East German population had fled west. There they had to share the bitter fate of the townspeople in Saxony and Mecklenburg. Many who had survived all the exertions of their flight died under the bomb carpets of the Anglo-American bomber units. The most devastating attack occurred in the night of February 13-14, 1945 on Dresden. The beautiful baroque city was crammed with around 600,000 Silesian refugees; many had come by train, others by trek. They had camped wherever possible and hoped to stay in Dresden only long enough to get back to Silesia. In the more than five years of the war, Dresden was spared air raids, certainly not for humanitarian reasons, but because there were no important military targets here to justify an attack. Of course, Dresden had a train station from which the railway lines branched out in many directions. The destruction of the station could have justified a strategic attack, but not bomb carpets at a time when Dresden - as was known on the Allied side - was overflowing with refugees.

Then, at 10:00 p.m. on February 13, a cloud of British bombers appeared over Dresden. The first attack was completed at 10:21 p.m. Mainly phosphorus bombs had been dropped. The city was on fire. A second attack occurred at 1:30 a.m. on February 14th. A total of 1,400 British aircraft were involved. And as if that weren't enough, 450 American planes dropped bombs at 12.12 p.m. A total of 3,430 tons of incendiary and high-explosive bombs were dropped. The accompanying P-51 fighters attacked people on the streets and the refugee trails resting on the Eibwiesen. 135,000 people died. 400,000 were left homeless.

Was this attack necessary? Did it hasten the end of the war by a single day? How many of the victims were Silesian refugees? 50,000? Maybe more. Gerhart Hauptmann, the Silesian poet from Agnetendorf in the Giant Mountains, was in the Weidner sanatorium in Dresden-Loschwitz. From there he saw the burning city and said in tears: “At that moment I wanted to die.” Later he wrote: “Anyone who has forgotten how to cry will learn it again when Dresden fell. . . I stand at the end of life and envy all my dead comrades who were spared this experience. «But not only in Dresden, but in many other cities and villages, medieval and baroque churches and castles sank to rubble and ashes. They buried thousands of East German refugees under themselves.

Source: Die Flucht. Alfred M. de Zayas.
https://img.welt.de/img/geschichte/zwei ... bing-8.jpg

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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Re: Refugees in Central and Eastern Europe - 1939/50.

Post by wm » 08 Nov 2020 18:31

A nerve center for the Reich
Its industry made complex systems,
Its intelligence served insanity.

We went through the Florence-on-the-Elbe
[i.e., Dresden],
Five months before the bombing,
Past their last great
Railway-engine repair works
Working furiously.

To us, It was already the trainworks of hell.
They said we were going a bit north.
To Riesa's steelworks as slave laborers.

We were in three trains,
Sixty to a boxcar,
Fifty boxcars to a train.
Our train was repaired there.

We stayed in the cattle-cars.
They did not show us the museums.
From Dresden we went to Auschwitz.

Van K. Brock - Remembering Dresden

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Re: Refugees in Central and Eastern Europe - 1939/50.

Post by tigre » 15 Nov 2020 17:13

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The escape from Czechoslovakia.

The military situation in Czechoslovakia was different from that in Silesia or East Prussia. Until the beginning of 1945, the Sudetenland and the Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia were spared direct effects of the war. It was not until the major Soviet offensive of January 12, 1945 that the eastern Sudeten German settlement areas were threatened. The Army Group Center under General Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner was able to intercept the offensive of the 1st Ukrainian Front (Konjew) and thwart the breakthrough into Czechoslovakia. At the end of March the offensive of the 4th Ukrainian Front (Petrow) began, which pushed together with the 2nd Ukrainian Front (Malinovsky) to Pressburg and Brunn. On April 24th, Troppau and Brunn fell. But until the surrender, the larger parts of the Sudetenland remained in German hands. That is why there was no hasty escape in Czechoslovakia such as from East Prussia. As early as February 1945 a rail transport with around 600 women and children from Warnsdorf in Northern Sudetenland was directed to Bavaria.

From March 1945, an orderly evacuation took place in the East Sudetenland under more favorable climatic conditions, which therefore claimed few victims. The first wave of evacuation hit around 30,000 Sudeten Germans. As the danger became more acute, party agencies tried to force the peasants to leave their farms. However, these were reluctant to leave their courts in view of the impending German collapse. Part of the population from South Moravia decided in April 1945 to flee to the Lower Austrian forest area. The main school director Matthias Krebs from Neusiedl, district of Nikolsburg, moved on April 17, 1945 with a large trek of 48 wagons to Großsiegharts and Thumeritz in Austria, where the refugees could stay until the capitulation.

Many Germans in the language islands of Moravia, such as Mährisch-Ostrau and Olmütz, decided to move to Bohemia; they were mostly taken west by rail or bus. Many evacuees were then surprised by the outbreak of the Czech uprising on May 5, 1945. The fate of those who found themselves in central Czech territory was particularly hard. They were ill-treated, robbed and the men were interned frequently. Many tried to return home and found their homes and farms either looted or confiscated and occupied by Czechs. Sometimes they found shelter with neighbors or relatives, or they were immediately sent to one of the numerous camps.

Others tried to flee west to the Americans. The American 3rd Army under General George S. Patton had occupied western Czechoslovakia as far as the Karls-Bad-Pilsen-Budweis line. There, however, there was no looting, rape or other harassment during the occupation. It can be seen from the reports that, despite the inconvenience of an enemy occupation, the population breathed a sigh of relief and hoped for an early normalization. When they found out about the Potsdam decisions on the forced resettlement, individual Sudeten German families decided to forestall the expulsion and, with the help of the Americans, even to save household items and furniture on army vehicles to Bavaria.

Source: Die Flucht. Alfred M. de Zayas.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Refugees in Central and Eastern Europe - 1939/50.

Post by tigre » 22 Nov 2020 14:26

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The return

The chapter on flight cannot be closed without mentioning that millions of refugees who left their homeland in East Germany in the first months of 1945 were firmly convinced that they would soon be back when the war was finally over, then they could return to their homes. In April 1945 the German population in the eastern provinces was about 4,400,000. By July 1945, 1,125,000 refugees had returned because they preferred to get through the hardships of the lost war at home. Little did they know that they would be driven out again. Others had heard rumors of the Allied decision to expel the Germans, but did not understand that the 700-year-old East German settlements would be smashed overnight.

The return took place in different phases. The first to return were the refugees who had been cut off from the rapid Soviet advance. Already in the last days of January 1945 many East Prussians returned to their home towns. Then a second wave of return migration followed in March and a third after the surrender on 7/8 May 1945.

The East German refugees who had found refuge in Central Germany - in Saxony, Mecklenburg, Brandenburg and West Pomerania - had left their hometowns before the Red Army without escaping the Soviet regime. That is why they preferred to wait and see their fate back home, especially since the Russian troops were much more disciplined after the surrender than before. The Russian military commanders and the command offices set up in the individual places did not behave uniformly when the refugees returned. In many cases treks have been forced to turn back immediately or have been given permission to return. In other cases, they were registered and treated like the local population.

The farmer Paul Ewert from Montauerweide, Stuhm district in West Prussia, had fled to Lauenburg in Pomerania, where his trek had been overrun in March 1945: “In mid-May we were informed that freight trains were going via Lauenburg, Neustadt, Danzig and Thorn to Russia and Take refugees home. Further inquiries at the Russian commandant's office in Lauenburg confirmed this. After paying 10 RM per adult, we received ID in Russian and Polish and left Lauenburg on May 29th. . . When we arrived, 97 people had already returned, or 97 people (out of an original 362 inhabitants) returned over the summer. «

It seems that prior to the Potsdam Conference the Russian military commanders had received no instructions about the planned expulsion of the Germans. At first it made military sense to avoid the gathering of refugees and to achieve better control of the population by having everyone return to their home area. On the whole, the Soviet stance was opaque and contradictory, because sometimes the Russians hindered the deportation campaigns started by the Polish authorities before the Potsdam Conference, but in most cases they approved. In any case, thousands of refugees had started their way back, and many were able to go east via the Oder and Neisse rivers.

Source: Die Flucht. Alfred M. de Zayas.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Refugees in Central and Eastern Europe - 1939/50.

Post by tigre » 29 Nov 2020 16:36

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The return

At the end of June / beginning of July 1945, the way back was closed at the crossings over the Oder and Neisse rivers. A great deal of confusion arose, especially in the Görlitz area. On the western bank and in the city of Görlitz, the stream of return migrants was jammed, while thousands of those forcibly expelled by the Polish administrative authorities came west over the Neisse. The need rose immeasurably. Elisabeth Erbrich from Breslau recalls: "Again, many returnees took their own lives because they could no longer find the strength to wander again into an uncertain future and without a destination." But those who were already east of the Oder and Neisse, were able to continue returning in many cases if they were not recruited into forced labor.

Regardless of whether they were refugees or locals, the Germans found in the villages and towns were used by Soviet commanders to clear rubble, cultivate fields, dismantle railway tracks and do other forced labor. For some refugees it took weeks and months to reach their homeland, and many had to experience that the way back was even more difficult and dangerous than the previous escape. The railroad traffic was idle, treks had been robbed of their horses, luggage was completely plundered. Most of the returnees walked through burned-down places and on country roads where the bodies of soldiers and civilians were still rotting.

There was no longer a German Red Cross, no assistance from German soldiers or government agencies, no official organization. Hunger and thirst made new victims. They feared not only the Soviet troops, but also the Polish militia. It is estimated that around 400,000 refugees from the Soviet occupation zone had returned to their homeland east of the Oder and Neisse rivers by the end of June 1945. About half returned from Czechoslovakia, where 1.6 million Silesians had fled. On the Silesian-Czech border, the Poles could not block the return flow as they did on the Oder and Neisse rivers, also out of consideration for the Czechs. The partly completely emptied villages and towns of Silesia were filled with people again, so that the German population of Silesia had grown again to around 2.5 million in June 1945.

In East Pomerania, too, the proportion of residents still under Russian occupation in the country was relatively high; About 150,000 East Pomerania had returned from Mecklenburg and West Pomerania, which together with those who stayed behind and who did not get out on time, numbered around a million people. The cities and villages now had an average of 50-60 percent of the former population. In some ditricts such as Beigard, Köslin, Neustettin, Dt. Krone, Friedeberg, Stolp and Lauenburg, the population was sometimes over 75 percent of the old status.

Source: Die Flucht. Alfred M. de Zayas.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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