Some 12 to 14 million German-speaking civilians, mainly women and children, were forcibly relocated by the Allies following WWII.
From the e-mailbag, fascinating insights on that point where world and personal history converge from Caroline Beckenhaupt, a longtime reader and dear friend. During WWII, Caroline's father served in the British RAF and flew bombing raids over German cities as a rear gunner (Caroline thinks) until his Lancaster was shot down over Essen. He spent two years as a POW in a German camp. Her email concerns her mother's family.
Through your wonderful book American Betrayal, I have come to the belief that the Brits and Americans aided Stalin to further his communist goals and enslave much of Europe. Tell me again that we won the 2nd WW?
I recently finished The Morgenthau Plan by John Dietrich and I had an epiphany. All my life, I never questioned why my Grandmother, three Uncles, & Mother were refugees to Bavaria from Silesia (Frankenstein) after the war. I just took this piece of family history for granted, assumed it had to happen, and never wondered why. Reading Mr. Dietrich’s book in which he details the cleansing of ethnic Germans from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Lower Silesia, I suddenly understood that Stalin was the one who benefited: Germany had long been his goal, to bring Germany brought to her knees must have been satisfying to him. Why are we not taught about this? I had no idea.
All I knew was that my family came to Bavaria. A Baron and Baroness took care of these refugees in a castle. My mother, who quite young at the time, remembers that they were shunned by the locals. My grandmother ended up being a domestic for them. Now I think how hard it must have been for her, who had all the memories of Silesia where my grandfather had died of gangrene during the war. He had fallen off a roof and all the medicine was at the front.
In fact, the whole book was enlightening for me, having grown up with the idea that the Americans rebuilt Germany, and through the Marshall Plan was benevolent to her. I’d always had a feeling of gratitude to America and the fact that my relatives were refugees to *west* Germany rather than having to stay in the east. Prior to reading AB, I had never heard of the Morgenthau Plan, which was largely written by Harry Dexter White, to benefit the Soviet Union. It’s all very shocking to my worldview.
As Mr. Dietrich writes, “the mass expulsion of ethnic Germans from the territory east of the Oder-Nisse Rivers. As many as 18.1 million people were driven from their homes because of their ethnic background. Somewhere between 2.1 and 6 million of these people, mostly women and children, perished.” Why is this not widely known? Surely it’s part of our history—we who have grown up with so much propaganda to mask the fact that really, Stalin was the winner of WWII. As for my part, naturally I’m still grateful that my Grandmother, Uncles, and Mother survived this political movement of people, but I agonize that we—Americans & Brits—acquiesced to what could only benefit the enlarging of the communism.