Protest against Potsdam

AUGSBURG/MUNICH |

AUGSBURG/MUNICH (Own report) - In the run-up to this weekend's annual "Sudeten German Convention," the Bavarian regional government has announced the introduction of a memorial day in commemoration of German resettlement. Beginning 2014, the second Sunday in September will annually be dedicated to the commemoration of the German victims of "flight, expulsion and deportation" as a result of the Second World War. The designation of this memorial day is one of the German political establishment's measures, to seek to embed the notion that the resettlement was "an injustice" in the mindset of future generations. Based on this - historically erroneous - opinion, Germany can raise advantageous political claims vis à vis Eastern and Southeastern European countries. Besides the creation of a memorial day, Bavaria is also supporting, with 20 million Euros, the establishment of a "Sudeten German Museum" in Munich. The German Bundestag has earmarked another 10 million Euros to the project. An exposition, which could serve as the centerpiece of the museum, put the legitimacy of the founding of Czechoslovakia into question, using controversial quotes from Nazi sources. The Bavarian prime minister will be honored, with a Sudeten German Homeland Association award at Sunday's events for his support of the "expellees."

Memorial Day for the Resettled

As was announced, last Wednesday, by the Bavarian state chancellery, the government of Bavaria has decided to declare a state-wide memorial day in commemoration of German resettlement. Beginning in 2014, the annual memorial day in commemoration "of German suffering caused by flight, expulsion and deportation" [1] as a result of the Second World War, will be the second Sunday in September. This initiative has been jubilantly welcomed by resettlement associations. Bavaria has always been "exemplary" toward the "expellees," declared the President of the German League of Expellees (BdV), Erika Steinbach.[2] There is no doubt that the BdV would like to see a similar memorial day established nationwide. Ultimately, a "non-partisan consensus" on this question must be reached in the German capital, demanded BdV Chairman Bernd Fabritius.[3]

On the Injustice of Expulsion

The memorial day's political thrust can also be surmised from its scheduling, in direct connection to the "Homeland Day." Since 1950, "Homeland Day" has been annually commemorated by the BdV and other associations of the resettled as a means of keeping the memory alive of a German past in their regions of origin. Originally, this had been commemorated on the first weekend in August, a deliberate juxtaposition to the date of the signing of the Potsdam Agreements (August 2, 1945). This date was chosen in "protest against the decisions taken at the Potsdam Conference in 1945," explains the BdV.[4] This is referring to passages in the Potsdam Agreements that legally justify the resettlement of Germans - as a consequence of Nazi crimes in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. The government of Bavaria openly aligns itself with this protest. Prime Minister Horst Seehofer explains that, with this new memorial day, "we are sending out the message that expulsion is and remains an injustice."[5] The fact that the memorial day will not be held on the first weekend in August, but rather in September - like the "Homeland Day" - has a practical reason. In Bavaria, school summer vacation lasts throughout August, usually only ending on the second weekend in September. To establish a memorial day during the summer vacation would predestine it to fizzle out without effect.

The Younger Generation

As can be seen in Bavaria's prime minister's statements, the institution of a memorial day is also aimed at influencing future debates. Until recently, it had always been claimed - for example in the controversies surrounding a "Center against Expulsions" or the Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation [6] - that personal satisfaction must be given to those who fled or were resettled since 1944. This is viewed as necessary, even though the majority of those concerned have died. The Bavarian prime minister, on the other hand, even proclaims that "the memory of flight and expulsion must be kept alive, particularly for the younger generation."[7] In fact there is an upsurge in government activities around resettlement in the field of collective memory policies, because those, who had been resettled are either no longer alive or they are very old - and their associations, which had kept the memory of resettlement alive, proclaiming it an injustice, are steadily losing influence, due to their decline in membership. For Prime Minister Seehofer, the resettlement must be embedded in the memory of the "younger generation," because it will be they, who "will configurate the European house of tomorrow." The memory of resettlement and its classification as "injustice," permit Germany to uphold its political demands vis à vis Eastern and Southeastern European countries. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[8])

Totally Indifferent

Plans to establish a "Sudeten German Museum" in Munich are among the measures of collective memory, aimed at keeping the alleged "injustice of the resettlement" on the European agenda for a long time to come. The construction of such a museum has been promoted for years by the Sudeten German Foundation. In early 2011, the foundation was able to name an "inception supervisor," to whose work, Bavaria contributed 300,000 Euros. Wilfried Rogasch has been named to this post. Rogasch is a former trustee of a BdV exposition, who, in early 2006, had stirred controversy with his views on the question of resettlement: "From the perspective of the victim, it is totally irreverent (...) whether an East Prussian woman in 1944/45, had been raped and then murdered, or if a Jewish woman had been taken to Auschwitz and murdered by the Germans."[9] The German Bundestag has earmarked until 2015, 10 million Euros, and the regional state of Bavaria another 20 million Euros in support of the Sudeten German Museum. Work is progressing; a preliminary building application has already officially been approved.

The Occupation of the Sudetenland

The elaboration of the contents of the Sudeten German Museum is still in a state of flux. An exposition, first presented publicly in 2007 - in the Bavarian Regional Parliament and then shown in several federal regions of the country - could serve as the centerpiece for the museum's exhibit. Panels in this exposition alleged, among other things that, at the beginning of 1919, Czechoslovakia did not have control over the entire territory, but rather had "occupied Sudetenland" in violation of "the international Hague Land War Convention of 1907." Panels also alleged that in Czechoslovakia an unprecedented "discrimination of Sudeten Germans" took place, quoting a publication as its source that had been published in 1936 by the printing house of the Nazi Karl Hermann Frank. Frank, soon thereafter, had become a member of the inner circle of the Nazis in power in Prague and was later responsible for the Lidice Massacre. The exposition explains possible justifications behind the 1938 Munich Agreements, for example that the choice of words "hint" that the "Sudetenland could have been interpreted as occupied territory, having never legitimately been part of Czechoslovakia." Finally, another exposition panel accuses former Czechoslovak President, Edvard Beneš, of complicity in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews. A "false information" from Beneš allegedly "led the Western allies to deny even simple aid to the persecuted Jews - for example granting refugees unlimited admission or bombing the routes leading to the concentration camps." (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[10])

Central European People's Order

At the Sudeten German Convention, on Sunday, Bavarian Prime Minister, Horst Seehofer, whose government has reliably supported the Sudeten Germans and their homeland association, will be presented the Sudeten Germans Homeland Association's European Karlspreis Award - "for his contributions toward a more just people's order in Central Europe." The award is named after Emperor Charles IV, who "was king of Germany and Bohemia, at the same time."[11] The Sudeten German Convention, at which also this year, the extreme right-wing "Witikobund" [12] will be officially present, is financially supported by the Bavarian government, from its budget of the Ministry for Employment and Social Order, Family and Women.

Over the next few weeks, taking the occasion of the official "expulsions" commemorations offensive, german-foreign-policy.com will continue to report on the thrust in the collective memory policy of others of the more important resettled associations, alongside the "Sudeten German Homeland Association."

[1] Bayerische Staatskanzlei: Pressemitteilung Nr. 178, 15.05.2013
[2] Erika Steinbach dankt Seehoferfür Kabinettsentscheidung zum Gedenktag; www.bdvbund.de 16.05.2013
[3] Bayern führt Gedenktag für Opfer von Flucht, Vertreibung und Deportation ein; www.siebenbuerger.de 16.05.2013
[4] Dokumentation zum Tag der Heimat 2006. Menschenrechte achten - Vertreibungen ächten. Festakt des Bundes der Vertriebenen in Berlin, 2. September 2006. See also Revisionsoffensive
[5] Bayerische Staatskanzlei: Pressemitteilung Nr. 178, 15.05.2013
[6] see also Expelled from Among the Living, Weichen für die Zukunft, History à la Carte, Revisions-PR and Kein Dialog
[7] Bayerische Staatskanzlei: Pressemitteilung Nr. 178, 15.05.2013
[8] see also Pflichtthema "Vertreibung", Days of Aggression and 60 Jahre Aggressionen
[9] see also The Culprits' Perspective
[10] see also An Educational Venue
[11] Sudetendeutscher Karlspreis 2013 für Seehofer; www.sudeten.de
[12] see also Wertegemeinschaft Europa