The Culprits' Perspective

BONN/BERLIN/PRAGUE |

BONN/BERLIN/PRAGUE (Own report) - A prominent promoter of the planned "Center Against Expulsions" has been appointed to head the federal government's administration for German culture. Hermann Schaefer, the new director of the Cultural Affairs Department in the Federal Chancellery, coordinates also the interests of the "Expellees". The "Center Against Expulsions," which is promoted by Schaefer, is a project of the German "Vertriebenen" federations (BdV, Federation of Expellees), which stands under suspicion of having "Great German" revisionist tendencies. Schaefer is a scientific advisor to the BdV project and had been president of the federal government's "House of History" in Bonn. He is responsible for the exhibit "Flight, Banishment, Integration", on display there since at the end of 2005. It has close similarities to plans for an exhibition, to be opened this summer by the "Federation of Expellees" in the federal government's Kronprinzenpalais in Berlin. Explaining the basic approach to the "Expellees" event ("Compulsory Paths"), the curator responsible for the event, Wilfried Rogasch, explained in a radio interview: "From the perspective of the victim, it is totally unimportant (...) whether it is an East Prussian woman 1944/45, who was raped and murdered or whether it was a Jewish woman who was taken to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp by Germans and then murdered." This statement encountered no recognizable criticism from the new director in the office of the Minister of State for Cultural Affairs and indicates the thrust of the revisionist offensive.

"Armenians, Karelians, Jews, Germans"

According to the "Expellees'" foundation, the "Center Against Expulsions," it does not want in its exhibition project "a quantification of the suffering each individual endured."[1] About one third of the "more than 30 nationalities or ethnic minorities", that according to the foundation have "lost their homeland in Europe during the course of the past century," are given special attention, among them the "genocide on the Armenians", "the expulsion of European Jews' as a component of the Holocaust'", the "resettlement of the West Karelians" and the "banishment and abduction of Germans at the end of the Second World War". The foundation insures: "the scientific advisory board has grappled with the basic concept of the exhibition during several meetings."[2] The organization, presided over by Erika Steinbach, president of the Federation of Expellees (BdV), names as members of the board, several prominent historians and political scientists, among them Hermann Schaefer.[3]

Aryan "National Traditions"

Schaefer had directed the federal government's foundation "House of History" until January 2006 and thereby was responsible for the exhibition "Flight, Banishment, Integration", which was designed and inaugurated during his term of office. Like its counterpart created by the "Expellees," this exhibition conceals the fact that the resettlement of German-language citizens of neighboring countries was the reactive result of ethnic subversion and political conspiracy. Therefore an appropriate evaluation of the German "ethnic" policy is to a large extent omitted. The German terrorist formation, that in Czechoslovakia caused havoc in Prague, is only mentioned in abstract terms: "Sudeten German Free Corps intensified the conflict on the military level".[4] A reference to the acts of this Free Corps, which had been initiated by the Nazis, was omitted [5] - more as 300 attacks with over 100 casualties.[6] As proof for the spread of "Germanness" in Czechoslovakia ("approximately 3.2 million") one finds a 1938 map in the Bonn exhibition that comes from the "German Archives for Nation and Ethnic Research." This was a racist registration office for Aryan "ethnicity".

Fifth Columns

In the "House of History" crimes committed by large sectors of the German-language minority, aimed at destroying Czechoslovakia and preparing the German government's war of extermination against Eastern Europe, are mentioned only excursively or ambiguously. The German-language population was expelled at the end of the war, so that future governments in Berlin could not use political sympathizers abroad under the pretext of cultural work, and reduce them to fifth columns of German foreign policy.

Trivialized

This defense against specifically German tactics used for the subjugation of Europe is, in the Schaefer exhibition, placed on a par with the genocide carried out on the Armenian language population of the Ottoman empire, as well as, the forced "population exchange" between Greece and Turkey. In doing so, the impression is transmitted that the reactive resettlement policy carried out by the liberated states of Eastern Europe is comparable to "ethnic cleansing" or would be supposed similar. The subjective stories of suffering are the points of reference which aim at the emotions evoked by unjust persecution and thereby creating an alleged consonance with the tragedies of the "Expellees." The core of these attempts is the disposal of culprits from the historical context and an indistinct, yet appearing emphatic, juxtaposition between victims of completely different time spans and political circumstances. In this way the suffering of many innocent victims becomes a functional tool for the de-historization of the causes of their suffering. The fates of those having to flee, being resettled and being persecuted are therefore trivialized by an ahistorical synopsis.

Not Necessary

These results were already planned into the preparations for the Schaefer exhibition and were developed in cooperation with the "Expellees" federations. Thus in a letter for the procurement of biographical material from the circle of German "Expellees," it was explained that one wants "to present numerous personal stories" and therefore asks for the description of experiences during expulsion. The researchers stress explicitly that a precise historical classification is seen as superfluous: "It is not necessary to search through old papers or documents for exact dates."[7] The more imprecise the causes for the postwar occurrences are kept, the more precisely the political protests are represented that are derived from them. Concerning openly revisionist demands ("Pommern belongs to us,") the Schaefer exhibition describes: "The homeland association shows itself combative on the 'day of the Pommern,' in Bochum, June 1960. It reaffirms its homeland political demands." The exhibition will tour other regions of Germany this year.

Clean Sweep

Preliminary work on the Schaefer exhibition, which is under the patronage of the German President, was initiated at the beginning of the SPD/Green coalition government's first term of office. In June 1999, Knut Nevermann, at the time the culture department director in the Chancellery, took over the post of chairman of the board of trustees of the Foundation "House of History." He implemented, with government financing, a special promotion of the project. Because of Nevermann's SPD background, it was said, that the activities of the "Expellees'" would be expected to calm down. On the contrary, the SPD team in the Chancellery's cultural department actually prepared the current "Expellees'" clean sweep.

Networking

The scientific advisory council of the "House of History" Foundation is still presided over by the historian, Lothar Gall, who is also a member of the scientific advisory board of the "Expellees" foundation, "Center Against Expulsions" - as is also Hermann Schaefer, the former president and current successor of Nevermann in the Chancellery. The networking between the "House of History," in Bonn, the foundation "Centre Against Expulsions" and the officials in the Chancellery explains the far-reaching accord of the quasi official exhibition ("Flight, Banishment, Integration") with the "Expellees" project ("Compulsory Paths").

[1], [2] Erzwungene Wege. Eine Ausstellung des Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen (ZgV) im Kronprinzenpalais, Berlin; www.z-g-v.de/aktuelles/index.php3?id=489
[3] Unsere Stiftung. Wissenschaftlicher Beirat; www.z-g-v.de/aktuelles/?id=37
[4] "Flucht, Vertreibung, Integration". Ausstellung im Haus der Geschichte, Bonn, Januar 2006
[5] Emil Hruska: Sudetendeutsche Kapitel. Studie zu Ursprung und Entwicklung der sudetendeutschen Anschlussbewegung, Deutsch-Tschechische Nachrichten Dossier Nr. 2, München 2003
[6] "Wir wollen heim ins Reich!" Die Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft und ihre ungeklärte Tradition; Die Zeit 08/2002
[7] Zeitzeugenbefragung zur Ausstellung "Flucht, Vertreibung, Integration"; Anschreiben der Stiftung Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

see also History Revision, Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, Gegen Prag and Aufgabe des ganzen Landes