Expelled From Among the Living

BERLIN/MUNICH |

BERLIN/MUNICH (Own report) - A study on the history of the German League of Expellees (Bund der Vertriebenen - BdV) financed by the German government is relativizing the Nazi-activities of former "expellee" functionaries, according to the conservative German daily the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). The newspaper writes that some of the arguments used in this study, examining the Nazi-past of high level representatives of organizations of the relocated, could "put Heinrich Himmler's basic national socialist conviction into question." The study was made by the Institute of Contemporary History (Institut für Zeitgeschichte - IfZ) and is being kept under lock and key. The institute is relativizing the study's importance and has declared that it is merely a "feasibility study". The study's author is in contact with "Germandom"-organizations in countries to the east of Germany. The historian Manfred Kittel had procured the assignment to prepare the study, writes the FAZ. Manfred Kittel is director of the "Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation," which is organizing a permanent exhibition in Berlin on the theme of "flight and expulsion". His scientific work came under heavy criticism already in the 1990s.

"Disinformation"

The idea for a study on the Nazi pasts of former "expellee" functionaries originated during the debate around the BdV's "Center against Expulsions". During the course of this debate, the weekly "Der Spiegel" published an article in August 2006, describing Nazi-activities of selected "expellee" functionaries. "Of the 200 high-ranking functionaries of the BdV and its predecessor organizations, of state and homeland associations in the years preceding 1982, more than one third had been members of the NSDAP or were incriminated by other sources," wrote Der Spiegel. "SS-membership" in this group, the magazine continues, "is about three times higher than in the rest of the population."[1] A few days after the Spiegel article was published, BdV President Erika Steinbach announced her decision to "induce and support" two scientific studies, "to end, once and for all, speculative reports". One study should focus on the influence of former Nazi militants on the BdV, while a second research should seek to learn "to what extent" intelligence services of the former socialist countries "have been spying on the BdV and how their disinformation has influenced West Germany's attitude toward the expellees."[2]

Not Clarified

It was very difficult to learn anything about the course these efforts have taken. According to recent reports, the Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ) in Munich, which receives both federal and regional government support, took on the lucrative research project in 2007. The German Ministry of the Interior had earmarked more than 100,000 Euros for the project,[3] of which the "feasibility study," which Matthias Lempart presented in the spring of 2008, swallowed more than 13,000 Euros. Lempart had previously been active in "Germandom" organizations in Poland. His study, in which the BdV had invested 1,000 Euros, is now the object of grave accusations. The FAZ confirmed the study's "deficiencies, misjudgments and distortions." For example, Lempart gives credit to a Nazi bearing the Nazi Party's "Golden Badge of Honor" for not having fired "his Jewish secretary until 1935". He does not mention what happened to her afterwards. In reference to an SS-Obersturmführer, who had been implicated in mass murder, he writes that it is not possible to clarify to what extent he had been "intimately national socialist oriented".

Doubtful

"On such a basis" writes the FAZ, "one could even put Heinrich Himmler's basic national socialist convictions into question."[4] According to the FAZ, Lempert recommended research on "how often unjust accusations have been raised." This echoes the BdV president's demand to find out to what extent "the West German relationship to the expellees" has been influenced by "disinformation." In the meantime, Steinbach declared that Lempart's work is "not ripe for publishing" and contains "errors."[5]

Subsequent Investment

According to reports, the Ministry of the Interior has honored this "feasibility study" with a 90,000 Euro subsequent investment grant.[6] As far as the progress of the research project is concerned, the IfZ in Munich indicates that "the researchers" have "carried out extensive studies of archives since" and finally compiled a collection of material at the end of 2009, that will now serve as a basis for a final study - if possible this year.[7] The IfZ considers that Lempart's remarkable results are "not yet the foundation of a scientific based judgment, but rather (...) part of the route leading in that direction." The institute did not explain how Lempart was able to receive government financing and write under contract for the state supported IfZ.

Under Recommendation

According to the FAZ, the IfZ had contracted Matthias Lempart "under recommendation" from Manfred Kittel, who had been working for the IfZ at the time.[8] At IfZ one learns that Lempart had prepared the "feasibility study" "under Manfred Kittel's coordination".[9] Kittel, himself, claims to have merely been involved in the "technical coordination" of the project, whereas the IfZ declared "we don't make a distinction between 'technical' and 'conceptual' project management."[10] The question of Kittel's role becomes significant because he has now been named Director of the "Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation". That foundation will establish a permanent exhibition at a central location in Berlin around the theme of "flight and expulsion". The foundation is the object of serious national and international dissention.

Young Conservative Historical Revision

The scientific work of Manfred Kittel, the current director of the foundation, was already the object of heavy criticism in the 90s. His book entitled "The Legend of the 'Second Guilt' (published 1993) ," was described as "a new product of young conservative historical revision".[11] Kittel espoused the thesis that during the Adenauer period in West Germany, the crimes of the Nazi period had been appropriately dealt with. Allegations to the contrary are erroneous and, what's more, lead to a "mentality of contrition." In 1993 the German weekly, "Die Zeit" quoted Kittel as saying that the efforts - in the aftermath of the Shoah - to oblige the "broad masses of the population" to "come to terms with the past" smells of "wrong national pedagogic." When one reflects deeper on such a "moral aspiration", the "question arises, whether one is not over-taxing the democratic state."[12] According to current reports, the historian Kittel admits that "back then in his youthful elan, he had had a too trenchant approach to that complicated theme"[13] - not really a mistake, just an exaggerated accentuation of Germandom.

Delusions

Under Kittel's direction, more frictions in the relations between Germany and the governments of countries formerly occupied by Germany can be expected. Poland, in particular, is keeping a sharp eye on the apparent radicalization of the German "commemorative culture". Even before the German government's most recent concessions to the BdV, the prominent Polish historian, Tomasz Szarota, resigned from the scientific advisory council of the "Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation." Bearing in mind the murderous acitivities of the German occupier, Szarota explained that "Germany should finally enlighten its public to the fact that not the flight and expulsion of a large number of people from their traditional homelands was the greatest disaster of the Second World War. A much greater tragedy was the expulsion from among the living."[14] In its new role as an opposition party, the SPD is now backing off from the "expellees'" activities, which it had set in motion while in government. The Polish foreign policy, which had been counting on a long-termed mitigating role played by German Social Democrats, giving in on every compromise demanded by the SPD, is now without any real support. Through the IfZ's "feasibility study" and ties to foundation director Kittel, it has now become apparent that the Polish hopes had been delusions.

Please read also The Culprits' Perspective, Duped, An Educational Venue, Days of Aggression and A Propaganda Ploy.

[1] Unbequeme Wahrheiten; Der Spiegel 14.08.2006
[2] Wir wollen Halbwahrheiten und Mutmaßungen den Boden durch wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen entziehen; Pressemitteilung des Bundes der Vertriebenen 20.08.2006
[3], [4], [5], [6] Bis zur Harmlosigkeit verstrickt; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 20.02.2010
[7] Gruppenbiografische Studie über Präsidialmitglieder des Bundes der Vertriebenen; Pressemitteilung des IfZ vom 12.02.2010
[8] Bis zur Harmlosigkeit verstrickt; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 20.02.2010
[9] Institut für Zeitgeschichte: Jahresbericht 2008
[10] "Studie nur Teil des Weges"; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 22.02.2010
[11], [12] Willi Jasper: Endlich wieder normal? Ein neues Produkt jungkonservativer Geschichtsrevision: Manfred Kittel über die angeblich geglückte "Vergangenheitsbewältigung" nach 1945; Die Zeit 40/1993
[13] Willkommen im Deutschlandhaus; Der Tagesspiegel 16.07.2009
[14] Episode: Absage; podster.de/episode/1213821. See also A Propaganda Ploy