Centre Against Expulsions

Centre Against Expulsions

The Centre Against Expulsions ( _de. Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen, ZgV) is a planned German documentation centre for expulsions and ethnic cleansing, particularly the Expulsion of Germans after World War II from eastern Germany and other parts of Eastern Europe following the Soviet offensive during, and occupation after the Second World War. It is to be erected in Berlin.

The proposal for the documentation centre was initiated by the Federation of Expellees, and it is supported by the CDU/CSU faction in the German parliament as well as the Chancellor Angela Merkel who intend to support building the centre.

The "Centre Against Expulsions" foundation, based in Wiesbaden, is headed by CDU politician Erika Steinbach. The other head of the project was SPD politician Peter Glotz who died in 2005.

Project timeline

*Sept 6, 2000: "Centre Against Expulsions" foundation ( _de. Stiftung Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen (ZgV)) set up by the Federation of Expellees ( _de. Bund der Vertriebenen (BdV)
*Nov 11, 2005: SPD and CDU, the largest German political parties, sign a coalition. One stated goal of the coalition is the establishment of a centre termed "Visible Sign" ( _de. Sichtbares Zeichen.
*Sept 3, 2008: the German federal government passes a law calling for the establishment of a center against expulsions in the Deutschlandhaus building of the Anhalter Bahnhof site, Berlin. The center is to be run by a foundation of the German Historical Museum ( _de. Deutsches Historisches Museum) called "Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation" ( _de. Flucht, Vertreibung, Versöhnung). The law must now pass the federal parliament (Bundestag) to become enacted.


The official purposes of the Centre Against Expulsions are to:

* document the flight and expulsion of more than 15 million Germans, as well as the expulsion of other peoples, especially in 20th century Europe,

* collect and compile oral and written witness reports from all expulsion and evacuation zones,

* make the culture, fate and history of displaced Europeans (including Germans) known in context, as well as their respective homelands

* remind of the integration of the displaced persons as well as their social reception in the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic,

* clear the backlog of current expulsions with temporary exhibitions, and

* construct a Requiem Rotunda that evokes contemplation and prayer in remembrance of the victims.


The Centre Against Expulsions has been supported by a number of human rights activists, historians, political scientists and authors as well as other people. Among these supporters are the United Nations' first High Commissioner for Human Rights Dr. José Ayala Lasso, German chancellor Angela Merkel [ [http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/meldung96654.html tagesschau:Merkel supports center against expulsions in Berlin] ] , Nobel literature laureate and Holocaust survivor Imre Kertész, Joachim Gauck, Milan Horacek, former Austrian crown prince Otto von Habsburg, prominent German rabbis Walter Homolka, Eckart Klein, and historians such as Guido Knopp, Hungarian novelist György Konrád, historian Michael Wolffsohn, Hans Maier, Christian Tomuschat and Alfred M. de Zayas.

Relatively neutral positions

Russia, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Serbia and Croatia are not harsh critics of the project, since the centre's proclaimed aim is not to qualify history, but to document it. Contrary to initial skepticism, particularly in Poland, Hitler's invasion of Poland was explicitely and elaborately mentioned by the Centre's exhibition this autumn in the Berlin "Kronprinzenpalais". The plight of Poles before and during WW2 was an integral part of the exhibition. Many other refugee histories were covered, such as the expulsion of Armenians, Turks, Greeks, Poles, Ukrainians, Latvians, Karelians, Bosnians and more. The expulsions were always put into the unique historical context in order to not equate them.

Controversy over the location of the Centre

On its official home page, the Centre points out that, "All victims of genocide and expulsion need a place in our hearts and in the historical memory. Human rights are indivisible."

Well-known intellectuals and politicians, including Germans Günter Grass and Hans-Dietrich Genscher, in 2003 expressed support for a centre devoted to all expelled during the 20th century, located in some place connected with expulsions, e.g. Wrocław (Breslau).

However, while Steinbach claims the Centre will represent the suffering of other nations as well, she believes that it is an internal German affair and rejects the proposal of creating the Centre under international control.

The Bavarian Prime Minister and chairman of CSU Edmund Stoiber argued that "the place for a museum showing the dreadful fate of expelled Germans is in the German capital".

Other criticism

This initiative, supported by the CDU/CSU fraction in the parliament, has caused controversy. Opponents of the proposed form of Centre object to emphasizing only German suffering. In the petition " [http://www.bohemistik.de/zentrumgb.html For a critical and enlightened debate about the past] " a group of historians expressed concerns the centre would "establish and popularize a one-sided image of the past, without historical context".

Former German Foreign minister Joschka Fischer commented on Steinbach, and her initiative for a Centre Against Expulsions to "...have caused serious damage to German-Polish relations. Not amongst extremist nationalist forces that do exist in Poland, but amongst old friends and major agents for reconciliation between our two countries." Fact|date=February 2007

Polish criticism

According to an International Herald Tribune article ( [http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/08/30/news/poland.php "Poles riled by Berlin exhibition, Germans’ expulsion after the war is its focus" by Mark Landler] , 31 August 2006), critics in Poland oppose the idea of a research centre in Berlin led by Erika Steinbach because it equates Germans with Jews and Poles, and attempts to suggest a moral equivalence between the victims of war and their oppressors. Polish authorities underline the fact that many Germans pledged "Volkslist" (loyalty to Nazi authorities) during the war and had therefore surrendered their Polish citizenships. However, this overlooks the fact that most Germans never wanted to live in Poland in the first place. Steinbach is a controversial figure to some, and her status as a person representing the expellees is questioned. Her family came to Poland only during the German occupation. The Polish government opposes the involvement of Steinbach in Polish-German relations regarding historical issues and at the same time supports an international net of centres dedicated to remembrance of totalitarian regimes and their victims called "Memory and Solidarity" [http://www.mfa.gov.pl/index.php?page=7972&lang_id=pl&bulletin_id=11&portlet=biuletyn%2Fpokaz] .

ee also

*Federation of Expellees
*Flight and expulsion of Germans during and after WWII

External links

* [http://www.z-g-v.de/flashintro/eng/index_flash_eng.html Official website in English]
*de icon [http://www.z-g-v.de/ Official Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen homepage]
*de icon [http://www.z-g-v.de/aktuelles/?id=58 Chronik der Vertreibungen europäischer Völker im 20. Jahrhundert] at Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen site
*de icon [http://www.bund-der-vertriebenen.de/infopool/zentrumggvertreibung.php3 Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen at Bund der Vertriebenen site]
* [http://www.warsawvoice.pl/view/3182 "Border Dispute"] (2003)

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