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New Berlin Museum Highlights Forced Displacements in 20th and 21st Centuries

The Documentation Center for Displacement, Expulsion, Reconciliation is opening in Berlin today. Although the Center focuses on the fate of Germans at the end of World War II, it also covers other instances of displacement and expulsion.

One can well imagine that, as the linked article says, "Making the project reality was long viewed as 'an impossible balancing act', with the Center's director asking, 'How can the exodus and expulsion of Germans at the end of and after World War II be portrayed without raising the slightest doubt that this country is aware of its lasting responsibility for the German crimes of World War II and the murder of European Jews?' ”

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/berlin-museum-centering-on-germans-expelled-after-wwii-opens/ar-AALge9C?ocid=msedgntp

Posted by
4662 posts

Thanks for this information, I'll try to visit the documentation center this fall. I remember a bus ride through lightly populated country in western Czechia. The local guide explained that the area had few people because it was close to the former Iron Curtain (this was in 2012). A history professor on our alumni tour later told us it was because the Czechs had expelled so many Sudeten Germans after WWII. Recently reading a Churchill memoir verified that many ethnic Germans were displaced when Poland's boundaries were moved west after the war.

It will indeed be a delicate balancing act for Germany to commemorate these events without seeming to downplay what it did to Jews and others before and during the war. But it seems like the Germans have earned the right to try, by facing so honestly in recent decades the burdens of their history in the 1930s-40s.

Posted by
2530 posts

My favorite book of all time: German Boy: A Child in War by Wolfgang W. E. Samuel. It is a memoir of the author's childhood from 10 to 14 years of age. The book starts with his family's flight from the former Sagan (now Zagan, Poland) ahead of approaching Russian troops and ends with him starting an apprenticeship with a baker in 1949 (with the hope of moving to the US in the near future with his mother and her US military fiancee). Most of the intervening time was spent as refugee in western Germany, including near a US air base used for the Berlin Airlift. It is eye opening with respect to the plight of displaced Germans after the war.

Posted by
2530 posts

acraven,

Thanks for this post. I've added the museum to my list of places to see in Berlin the first week of September.