Identität, Emanzipation und Sexualität in den Tagebüchern von Ruth Maier (German Edition)

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Soviet unwillingness to release all remaining German soldiers became a particularly power- ful symbol of Communist brutality. Lacking a full reckoning of the dead and missing in action, the West German state responded angrily that the numbers did not add up; still unaccounted for were over a million Germans who had gone to Russia and not returned Fig.

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However, official concerns about those German soldiers still behind the iron curtain were not only for domestic consumption. Although the British and American govern- ments responded with indifference to West German demands that they help ease the plight of expellees in the postwar Federal Republic, they showed no reluctance to champion the cause of POWs victimized by Communists, enthusiastically transforming German concerns into an international affair. Embracing the cause of West Germans who sought the release of all POWs from the last war also paralleled British and American pressures to ensure that chastened, rehabilitated Germans would once again take up arms if called on to fight the next.

In , Dwight D.

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In an official statement, hammered out by West German representatives and the U. Just as they had paved streets to rebuild a war-torn Soviet Union, they could also pave the way for the Federal Republic to enter the United Nations, where, with Amer- ican and British sponsorship, West Germans charged the Soviets with ly- ing and withholding information. State Department and the West German govern- ment clearly understood that by focusing on the mistreatment of Ger- man POWs by the Soviets, it would be possible to push the Federal Republic further westward.

As an official of the U. These figures did not include the un- told number of ethnic Germans—estimated to be as high as ,— transported against their will to do forced labor in the Soviet Union at the end of the war and never heard from again. Within the Foreign Office, no one denied that these published figures were exaggerated; in the ab- sence of accurate figures of wartime casualties, all those missing in ac- tion on the eastern front could be counted as potential Soviet prisoners.

By the spring of , reliable information existed for only about 9, POWs who still corresponded with relatives in the Federal Republic, a figure close to the numbers reported by the Soviets. However, govern- ment officials justified using the high-end estimate in public pronounce- ments by alleging that many POWs might be denied the opportunity to write home. As a symbol of solidarity, introduced by the West Berlin mayor, Ernst Reuter, West Germans displayed green can- dles, after the custom of fishermen who lit candles on the shore during storms, beacons signaling the way home for sailors in distress Fig.

Symbolically for all Germans, these heroes were offering reparations to the Soviet Union. By the early s, those call- ing for their release insisted that the POWs had long since squared ac- counts; the punishment no longer fit the crime. They were also responding to their colleagues on the floor of the Bundestag. Their private stories profoundly shaped the agenda of pub- lic policy.

Accounting for the Past Legislative initiatives to compensate German victims allowed all po- litical parties to acknowledge German loss and sacrifice. Most notably, the British and Americans had acquiesced to Soviet demands—outlined at Teheran, specified at Yalta, finalized at Potsdam—that they occupy eastern Europe and expel Germans from their historic homelands. National Socialism had created count- less victims, of whom many were Germans.

The lan- guage of millions was a powerful moral currency. Indeed, debates over measures to meet the needs of expellees and returning POWs emphasized how the suffering of these groups represented a collective penance that allowed West Germans to close the moral ledger in the black. With extraordinary energy and thoroughness, the Bundestag took up measures to meet the needs of German victims, particularly those ex- pelled from eastern Europe or, as prisoners of war, prevented from re- turning home until well after the end of hostilities and disadvantaged by their lengthy separation from work and family.

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Before , mea- sures to assist expellees and returning POWs were administered in each of the zones of western Allied occupation by individual state govern- ments, charitable organizations based in the churches, and the Red Cross. Combined with other measures to provide immediate assistance introduced in , this law resulted in payments of nearly twenty-seven billion marks by , 64 percent of which went to ex- pellees.

In the period —56, other programs designed to provide former POWs with medical care, occupational training, and housing assistance amounted to over seven hundred million marks. Despite the broad consensus favoring just compensation for return- ing POWs and victims of the expulsion, not all measures sailed effort- lessly through the Bundestag. Most programs were designed to assist them in making a fresh start, not to restore the social status that they had lost or, in the case of POWs, compensate them for the reparations they had delivered to the So- viets.

Discontent did not translate into massive political opposition to the central government, as had been the case in Weimar, nor did POWs or veterans move far to the right as they had in the s.

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Although its very existence forced all other parties to compete more vigorously for the votes of expellees, the BHE was ultimately unable to attract a constituency of its own and rapidly declined in significance. Although in the late s currency reform had disastrous consequences for expellees and POWs, resulting in high unemployment and price increases that were not matched by in- creased public welfare allowances, by the early s West Germany had entered a phase of rapid economic expansion.

What had seemed like a tremen- dous liability in the late s had become an enormous resource. Eco- nomic historians continue to debate the impact of the huge postwar population migration on the performance of the West German economy, but there is little doubt that the economic problems of those groups most forcefully displaced by the war diminished as the postwar economy ex- panded. In addition, unlike Weimar, the Bonn government and the Bundestag consistently allowed those most prone to political disaffection an active role in defining solutions for their own problems and ensured that every- one achieved at least something of what they were after.

Self-defined vic- tims participated in a process of consensus building for which the Weimar precedent offered a negative example; this process served a pow- erful integrative function and undermined the appeal of special-interest parties. The exhaustive public discussion of the needs and rights of expellees and POWs granted them a particularly important role in defining a post- war social contract based on the condemnation of all variants of au- thoritarian rule.

Meeting the just demands of these groups was essential for the do- mestic social stability that would allow West Germany to serve as the first line of defense against potential Communist expansion westward. Neither National Socialist nor Communist, the Federal Republic was also not American, British, or French; the West German government won acceptance for its initiatives to compensate expellees and returning POWs by stressing that these programs were singularly German, grounded in the best tradition of the German social welfare system and correcting the punitive policies imposed by the Allies in the years of postwar occupa- tion.

Postwar debates over shared fates circumscribed a community of suf- fering and empathy among Germans, joined by the common project of distributing the costs of the war. Defining the just claims and rights to entitlement of some and the moral obligations of others was part of es- tablishing the bases for social solidarity in West Germany. All major political parties could agree on this mode for confronting the past, because it was ostensibly outside the arena of party-political wrangling.

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To be sure, this vision of the past was highly political. In June a seamstress, Anna Schwartz, recorded her memories of the end of the war in Danzig, the city that Hitler had incorporated into the Reich when he invaded Poland in September This is what Schwartz recalled: For Schwartz, German defeat came before the official surrender.

In late March , the Russians marched into Danzig, setting the city on fire.

Falling bombs drove Schwartz and her neighbors into air raid shelters, from which Russian voices, promising freedom and security, later beck- oned them if they would surrender. Distrusting these assurances, Schwartz unsuccessfully sought a place on one of the last boats leaving the port city to cross the Baltic bound for northern Germany, though Russian fighter bombers made this a perilous and uncertain escape route as well.

Schwartz compared her fate with that of German soldiers, holding out until the end and facing imprisonment or death. On March 27 Soviet soldiers entered the city. Other women also lost their honor, and Schwartz re-. By evening, Schwartz found herself together with many other Germans as a prisoner of the Red Army, under guard on a large farm. Here she faced interrogation about her party loyalties and occupation. Marched twenty-two kilometers daily to work on a farm outside Danzig, she re- turned to more nightly questioning.

The sound of gunshots in the dis- tance indicated that some Germans were receiving death sentences on the spot. Schwartz speculated that local Poles had betrayed them. Good Friday was a particularly vivid memory for Schwartz. She could still picture the four hundred women with her in the cold stalls, where humans had replaced livestock. Denied food or drink, the women also had no protection from the chilly winds that raced through the bro- ken windows of the barn.

Mothers, separated from their children, cried. As I heard later, they had stood there for days, forbidden from returning to their homes.

In front of the houses, their goods were strewn, and now and again we saw a crazed man or woman running through the streets. Here she was finally allowed to bathe, but only in large common showers, where she was ogled and ridiculed by her Russian guards. Graudenz was a way station en route to forced labor in Siberia, a des- tination reached after an eighteen-day train ride in livestock cars into which Schwartz was crammed together with others from West Prussia, East Prussia, and Pomerania.

Her new home was a camp surrounded by a two-meter-high barbed wire fence with a watchtower at each corner. Now she worked daily on the construction of a rail line that was to connect two mines. She was next sent to a nearby collective farm, where she and her co-workers lived in tents.


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When most of the German labor force moved back to the camp in November, Schwartz stayed on, one of seven women who spent the winter on the collective farm. In the spring she returned to the camp to discover a new, harsher reg- imen that left inmates standing daily for endless roll calls. She estimated that meanwhile more than a thousand Germans had died in the camp.

Assigned again to an agricultural work detail, Schwartz also practiced her trade, sewing for the Soviet officers, their wives, and girlfriends. Three years of hard labor left Schwartz indifferent, moody, irritable, exhausted, and sullen.

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But news finally came of her imminent release and return home together with the sick, invalids, and all other women over thirty. The previous years had left her grateful to the Soviet leader for nothing. At most, they now served to store grain or house livestock. Where urban landscapes were restored in Minsk and Smolensk, Schwartz recognized the efforts of German prisoners of war, assigned to rebuild what the German army had destroyed.

We had not come home, but we had arrived in the Fatherland. At the end of the war, the Red Army drove millions of Germans westward from their homes in eastern Europe, and thousands more were deported eastward to forced labor in the Soviet Union. Like Schwartz, they suffered incal- culable losses, and many provided detailed accounts of what they had endured. In this chapter, I do not seek to reconstruct their experiences or to provide a social his- tory of the expulsion.

These compilations of individual testimonies were complemented by three full-length diaries. In the s, historians were not alone in their attempt to provide reli- able, scholarly accounts of the expulsion. Without denying the strains generated by the confrontation of eastern and western Germans, Lemberg empha- sized that the new whole was bigger than the sum of its parts. Social scientists addressed the present and analyzed the experience of expellees upon their arrival in the Federal Republic. Sociologists left little room for expellees to describe their own circumstances; for the most part, the expellee appeared in their studies as an abstract object of analysis.

A Nazi party member since , he taught and lived in that city until he and his family fled the approaching Red Army in December He was fascinated by the history of Germans in West Prussia, and the scholarly work that qualified him for the professorship focused on that part of the world. After , his methodological reflections on how to doc- ument the history of one German defeat could be transferred to his study of another. Although he had converted from Judaism to Protestantism before the First World War, served in the war, and saw himself as a loyal, patriotic German, particularly concerned to establish the significance of German cultural contributions in eastern Europe, he was removed from his position in and barred from teaching altogether a year later.

He eventually emigrated to the United States, where he taught first at Brown, then at the University of Chicago. Through these two struc- tures, he exercised a significant influence on the writing of twentieth- century German history in the Federal Republic. The Documentation amassed an impressive mound of primary sources.