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INFO   :::  Human Rights > Vulnerable Groups > Press Release


Press Release

Darmstadt, 7 December 2002

12/26/2002, Author: HCHRS

Deutsches Polen-Institut
Mathildenhöhweg 2
D-64287 Darmstadt
Tel. +49 6151 498513
Fax +49 6151 498510




Without any commitment to specific political targets or obligations, over 40 scholars and experts from Israel, Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Hungary, the United States and Germany met from the 5th to 7th December at the Haus der Deutsch-Balten (House of the German Balts) in Darmstadt for an international academic colloquium "A EUROPEAN CENTRE AGAINST EXPULSIONS. HISTORICAL EXPERIENCES - REMEMBRANCE POLICY - CONCEPTS FOR THE FUTURE". At the invitation of the Deutsches Polen-Institut, Darmstadt, and in cooperation with the Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum Geschichte und Kultur Ostmitteleuropas (Centre for the History and Culture of Eastern Central Europe), Leipzig, and the History Department of Warsaw University, the experts reviewed different European expulsion complexes in the twentieth century and began collecting ideas towards a concept for a European centre against expulsions. The colloquium was financially supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation.

The organizers of the colloquium, Dr. Dieter Bingen (Deutsches Polen-Institut, Darmstadt), Prof. Dr. Stefan Troebst (Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum, Leipzig), and Prof. Dr. Wlodzimierz Borodziej (Warsaw University) are the authors of the following outlines for further research with which to the best of their knowledge and belief they attempt to summarise the broad consensus that emerged during the colloquium regarding the BASIC orientation of a European centre against expulsions. However, in view of the complex issues discussed during those two days, total agreement was not possible on every single issue. Accordingly, individual participants may not share all of the views expressed in the following outlines.


"European Centre Against Expulsions"

Intellectual Approaches

Expulsion campaigns, long trains of refugees and reception camps are elements of a European drama in the 20th century. In the last century, continent-wide forced migrations such as flight, deportation, banishment, expulsion for religious and ideological reasons, so-called ethnic cleansing and internal displacement deprived over 60 million people of their habitat and irrevocably destroyed cultural diversity. Collective fates made up of millions of individual fates are not suitable objects for political instrumentalisation or ethnocentric navel gazing. What is required is a transnationally comparative, multi-disciplinary scholarly and scientific effort at reappraising these events, unburdened by short-term political interests in a discourse committed to a European culture of remembrance.

There was broad consensus on the following points:

- In further academic and, particularly, political discussion, the idea of creating a centre against expulsions should not have a national but a pan-European focus. This is the essential prerequisite if the centre is to achieve the purpose of joint commemoration by all Europeans of the fate of the people affected by expulsions.

- A European Centre Against Expulsions - whatever its design - should be mindful of the fates of the victims in 20th century Europe, that is, in a period remembered by the generations living today. The events in the Balkans in the last decade clearly showed that ethnic cleansings or expulsions are an instrument still used in political conflicts. A centre against expulsions should therefore also contribute to the objective of rejecting the creation of ethnically homogeneous zones, regions, towns and states as a legitimate political instrument. Important as it is for German society and its review and reappraisal of the past to seriously reconsider the fates of German expellees, there should be due appreciation of the fact that from the beginning of the 20th century millions of people were expelled from their traditional homelands by their European neighbours and that as early as 1933 the National Socialist government decreed and implemented the forced migration of German Jews and that the policy of forced migration was carried on after 1938/39 vis-à-vis South Tyroleans and German Balts.

- A German remembrance culture not rooted in the historical context of cause and effect and not commemorating comparable individual fates of (non-German) expellees in the Europe of the 20th century is doomed to fail in its request for empathy from its European neighbours and will create new divides between the nations.

- In German-Polish relations, the expulsion of Germans was a festering wound for decades. The dialogue conducted between Germans and Poles in the nineties proved that joint review and reappraisal of this emotionally distressing issue is not only possible but also has a liberating effect.

- The major concern of a developing joint remembrance culture dealing with the complex of expulsions is not commemoration merely for the sake of remembrance but the future-oriented educational aspect of the scientifically-based account and multi-dimensional representation of historical, political, social and psychological mechanisms which led in the past to such tragic events and appalling crimes. In view of future temptations to solve political problems by means of ethnic cleansing and mass resettlement its aim is very largely preventive.

- At a historical juncture where the political unification of Europe is nearing its realisation with the admission of further members into the European Union, the successful prevention of a resurgence of ethnic nationalism is squarely based on the willingness of European societies and citizens to pledge their allegiance to supranational values.

- The centre cannot be conceived of without sufficient concern for the issues connected with European Jews: the deprivation of their civil rights, their flight, expulsion and annihilation. Only a centre taking due account of the role of National Socialist Germany in expulsion, resettlement, liquidation with all the resources at its disposal and with extreme logistic precision will sensitise European neighbours to the tragic fate suffered by the Germans in the East and Southeast of Europe and inspire them to cooperate in designing a centre orientated towards European issues.

- The historical backgrounds and contexts of various mass exoduses, expulsions and forced resettlements differ widely - however, there are great similarities in the distress people suffered. Success in a joint review and reappraisal of the difficult and emotionally charged issue of expulsions would be an important signal for the future of Europe.

- Calling for a European Centre Against Expulsions means first of all thinking about the concept/design of such a centre and embarking on a cross-European discourse about what it should represent:
- A European Centre Against Expulsions should include the following functions:
- documentation
- research
- meetings
- advisory services for constructive engagement in conflicts pertaining to expulsions
- providing a locus of dialogue for perpetrators/victims regarding expulsion phenomena that have not yet been "come to terms with"
- exhibition/touring exhibition
- memorial area - European monument

The choice of a location may appear secondary to a conclusive and convincing concept of a European Centre Against Expulsions. However, it is a political issue not to be underestimated in view of the potential locations discussed in expert and political circles and also in view of the unavoidable symbolism the selected location will convey. This will undeniably be seen as integral part of the concept.

- Joint European remembrance, warnings for the future and solidarity in commemoration could be encouraged by developing a concept of decentralised structures for memorial locations. Starting from a central location coordinating the activities, what we need is an overall view of the numerous expulsion sites and the diverse activities undertaken in this respect from Russian Karelia to Northern Greece, from Bessarabia to Lower Silesia. In addition, the possibilities of virtual networking could be drawn upon.

Darmstadt, 7th December 2002


Participants of the International (Academic) Colloquium

Prof. Dr. Fikret Adanır, Bochum / Istanbul

Prof. Dr. Arnulf Baring, Berlin

Johannes Bauch, Former Ambassador, Berlin

Dr. Mathias Beer, Tübingen

Dr. Dieter Bingen, Darmstadt

Sonja Biserko, Belgrade

Prof. Dr. Wlodzimierz Borodziej, Warsaw

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Detlef Brandes, Düsseldorf

Dr. Marie-Janine Calic, Berlin

Prof. Dr. Heinz Duchhardt, Mainz

Dr. Aleksandr Gur'janov, Moscow

Dr. Helga Hirsch, Berlin

Prof. Dr. Richard G. Hovannisian, Los Angeles

Dr. Edita Ivanicková, Bratislava

Zoran Janjetovic, M.A., Belgrade

Doz. Dr. Kristina Kaiserová, Ústí nad Labem

Hans Koschnick, Former Mayor, Bremen

Adam Krzeminski , Warsaw

Dr. Stefan Laube, Wittenberg

Dr. Andreas Lawaty, Lüneburg

Prof. Dr. Hans Lemberg, Marburg

Thomas Lutz, Berlin

Markus Lux, M.A., Stuttgart

Dr. hab. Piotr Madajczyk, Warsaw

Dr. Ralph Melville, Mainz

Prof. Dr. John S. Micgiel, New York

Prof. Dr. Victor Neumann, Timisoara

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Erwin Oberländer, Bonn

Dr. Milan Olejník, Košice

Dr. Peter Payer, Aichwald

Dr. Gazmend Pula, Prishtina

Dr. Gideon Reuveni, Jerusalem / Munich

PD Dr. Joachim Rogall, Stuttgart

Dr. Krzysztof Ruchniewicz, Wroclaw

Prof. Dr. Karl Schlögel, Frankfurt (Oder)

Prof. Dr. Holm Sundhaussen, Berlin

Dr. László Szarka, Budapest

Dr. Philipp Ther, Berlin

Dr. Robert Traba, Warsaw

Dr. Heinz-Adolf Treu, Darmstadt

Prof. Dr. Stefan Troebst, Leipzig

Prof. Dr. Matthias Theodor Vogt, Görlitz-Klingewalde

Dr. Kazimierz Wóycicki, Leipzig

Prof. Dr. Klaus Ziemer, Warsaw

Prof. Dr. Marek Zybura, Oppeln





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