Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) – Part 20

Ethnic Cleansing 1945 – 1948

Reparations in Kind

With the article below describing the topic of an open lecture hosted in 2010 by the prestigious Unviversity of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, I am going to provide some background of the tragic events which engulfed the Ernst Klopp family in the 1945 to 1948 time period. My father was one of the over two million Germans who were deported to forced labour in the Soviet Union and our family was one of the 14 million ethnic Germans who were driven from their homes in the eastern provinces. Considering that more than 2 million Germans perished, I cannot help but declare that the survival of the entire family was a first-class miracle.

Recently during my family research, I read online the following announcement by the U of W and I quote:

Pursuant to the 1945 Nürnberg indictment and 1946 judgment the forced deportation of civilians for purposes of demographic manipulation and/or forced labour constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Several Nazi officials were found guilty of having perpetrated these crimes. At the same time as the Nuremberg Trials were conducted, more than 14 million Germans were expelled from their homes in East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia, East Brandenburg – territories that were part of the defeated German Reich, from Bohemia and Moravia, from Hungary and Yugoslavia. Nearly two million ethnic Germans were deported to forced labour in the Soviet Union as “reparations in kind”. The Statistisches Bundesamt in Wiesbaden and subsequent scientific demographers have estimated that more than two million ethnic Germans perished as a result of their expulsion, either as victims of lethal violence or as a consequence of exposure, hunger and disease. In his 1946 book entitled “Our Threatened Values” Victor Gollancz appealed to a general sense of justice and morality: “If the conscience of mankind ever again becomes sensitive, these expulsions will be remembered to the undying shame of all who committed or connived at them … The Germans were expelled, not just with an absence of over-nice consideration, but with the very maximum of brutality.” Alas, the expulsion of the Germans was given scant press coverage and was seldom discussed or even mentioned in history books. The first UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Jose Ayala Lasso, in a statement to the German expellees assembled at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt am Main on 28 May 1995 stated: “I submit that if in the years following the Second World War the States had reflected more on the implications of the enforced flight and the expulsion of the Germans, today’s demographic catastrophes, particularly those referred to as ‘ethnic cleansing’, would, perhaps, not have occurred to the same extent.” Unfortunately there were no “lessons learned” from the expulsion of the Germans. In 1992 the UN General Assembly called the policy of Ethnic Cleansing in the former Yugoslavia “a form of genocide”. The ICJ and the ICTY similarly found that the massacre of Srebranica constituted genocide. How many massacres of ethnic Germans 1945-48 reached the threshold of genocide or crimes against humanity? Several professors of public international law have raised this issue and insisted that International Law and human rights law cannot be applied à la carte. The UN General Assembly has affirmed the right to truth. The German expellees and their descendants have at least this right.

18 comments

  1. Stella, oh, Stella · 25 Days Ago

    This just shows, that nobody is better than anybody else. I mean the Russians under Stalin killed millions of people as well, mostly their own though, and many millions died in the Ukrainer because of the Russian army. In then Czechoslovakia, they killed off the ethnic Germans after the war, men, women and children alike, even if they had lived there for many generations. The same way the Americans put their Japanese citizens into prisoner camps. At least they did not kill them, but still …
    I don’t mean to minimize Hitler’s atrocities, but mankind simply does not learn, does it?
    And in Germany they are now encouraging the citizens to snitch on each other and call the authorities, if they have seen somebody somewhere without a mask of something like that. Also in Denmark this has been on the discussion table.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Peter Klopp · 24 Days Ago

      Thank you for the additional details for a very sad chapter in human history, Birgit! Stalin had two things in mind and pursued them with utmost cruelty. First, he wanted to prevent that on a plebiscite people would vote to be part of Germany again. Second, by flooding and burdening the western parts of Germany with millions of refugees, he would cause a total breakdown and a potential take-over of the entire country. Luckily, the Americans were the first ones (almost too late) to realize the danger of a potential Communist conquest of all of Europe.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Amy · 25 Days Ago

    Like others as suggested by the quote, I knew nothing about this. Although it’s hard for me to feel sympathy for those who were Nazis or who collaborated with them, any blanket punishment of people without proof of their individual crimes is unjust, and I am sorry that this happened to your father.

    One question: what does that report mean by an ethnic German? There is something worrisome about that term because it seems to suggest that someone who is a German citizen but not “pure German” (for example, the millions of immigrants to today’s Germany or a Jew living in Germany before the Holocaust) is not really German– -just as some right-wingers in the US say about those who have immigrated to the US and become US citizens–that they’re not really American. Does the reference to “ethnic Germans” mean something less nefarious? Did that report really mean those whose roots were in Germany but who were living elsewhere during the war like your father?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · 24 Days Ago

      Amy, I had to go back to the article to probe a little deeper into what the article implied by using the term ‘ethnic German’. I believe the term means all Germans whether they were German citizens or not. For example, the Germans who had settled in the Volga region by invitation by Empress Cathrine the Great would be ethnic Germans but were Soviet citizens. Stalin had them deported to Siberia during the war, as he considered them a threat. Where my father worked in former West Prussia, there were many people of German descent from Romania who were resettled there during the war and had not acquired German citizenship. So I believe the article by using this unusual term meant to include all people of German descent. Do I make any sense? Or have I misunderstood your question, Amy?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Amy · 24 Days Ago

        Nope—you understood me perfectly, and that’s a very helpful answer. Would it be the equivalent of referring to a German who had immigrated to the US as being an ethnic German? I guess I’d have avoided the term ethnic since it has other implications, but then the article was about ethnic cleansing so maybe that’s why they used it. This is how Webster-Merriam defined ethnic: of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background. So I suppose an ethnic German would share common national and linguistic and cultural origins with other Germans. But if that also means common religious or tribal background, it becomes more troubling. Words are so powerful!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Peter Klopp · 21 Days Ago

        You are right about the connection and its potential danger of misunderstanding of the concept ‘ethnic German’ and ethnic in general, Amy!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. These written laws are kind of difficult to understand in it’s reality to pursue.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pure Glory · 24 Days Ago

    Peter, the tragedy of your father and so many other ethnic Germans being killed, displaced, and sent to forced labor tugs on my heart strings. The displacement and deaths of so many in ethnic cleansing is wrong. The Bible notes that curses go to 3 or 4 generations but blessings of the righteous goes to a 1000 generations. You have deep Christian roots and prior righteous generations prayed for their descendants. Your father and your siblings and mother had the blessing of of the righteous and lived, when so many others died or were separated without ever finding their family members.

    My heritage is the Volga Germans and many relatives died in Siberian camps. My parents and grandparent sent care package to relatives that were starving in Siberia. It was the providence of God that caused my grandparents and 2 young children (one which was my father), to leave Russia 4 for 5 years prior to the Bolshevik Revolution.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Peter Klopp · 21 Days Ago

      Thank you for your sympathetic comment on our family’s plight (and many millions of others)! Your story about your grandparents was interesting and touched my heart. Have you considered writing it down?

      Like

      • Pure Glory · 20 Days Ago

        You are welcome! No I haven’t considered writing about it because I have just a few details. Everyone involved passed a long time ago.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Des · 23 Days Ago

    I have to assume that the U of W statement is correct, that there were “no lessons learned”, because I too was ignorant of the plight of these poor dislocated German people. It does sound like a miracle that your entire family survived. Following this series has been very educational for me, Peter. Thank-you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Peter Klopp · 21 Days Ago

      You are so right about a true miracle happening to our family at the end of WW2, especially when you consider that the entire family was scattered all over the place with no communication between them. Thank you, Des!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ann Coleman · 22 Days Ago

    Before I read your post, I had no idea that Germans were deported either! War truly is hell, and the problem is, we don’t learn from our past mistakes. I’m so sorry your family had to endure this, and I agree with you that their survival was a true miracle. Thank you for educating us on an under-reported aspect of history!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Peter Klopp · 21 Days Ago

      Indeed, the deportations of the German population from the eastern provinces are the most underreported atrocities in our media.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. kopfundgestalt · 22 Days Ago

    I found out about all the ethnic cleansing in Europe relatively late. Maybe only 5 or 6 years ago.
    With regard to the expulsion of Germans, the death marches, it was only partially recognized very late that this was the greatest injustice. Often it was young people from the respective countries themselves who pushed through this recognition, but only many decades later. I am aware of such recognition from 2015, for example.

    In general, much more is gradually becoming known, which throws a bad image of us as humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · 21 Days Ago

      Luckily, under the umbrella of the EU, we can look forward to more peace and harmony in Western Europe than it was some 70 years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Steve Schwartzman · 22 Days Ago

    The article is correct that those forced migrations are not well known on this side of the Atlantic. The Soviets were just as tyrannical and homicidal as the Nazis.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ankur Mithal · 15 Days Ago

    Unfortunately, we will never learn. While leaders and rulers pursue their megalomaniac designs, the little guy is invariably left writing the cheque to pay for them. And, once seeds of conflict are sown, the ‘eye for an eye’ philosophy of most regimes, and people, will ensure that it stays burning forever.

    Liked by 1 person

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