- Demographic estimates of the German exodus from Eastern Europe
Demographic estimates of the
German exodus from Eastern Europeare still a controversial topic.
Estimates of the number of displaced Germans vary in the range of 13.5-16.5 million.
Estimates of total deaths of German civilians have ranged from as low as 500,000 to as high as 3 million. The "standard" figure given is 2 million which is based on a "population balance" computation based on data compiled by the Federal Statistics Office (Statistisches Bundesamt). In recent years, however, this figure has come under increasing criticism, as some studies by historians such as Overmans and Haar, who based their work on actual reported deaths, suggest that the number of victims can hardly have been higher than 500,000 persons, a revision which is only a fraction of the figure arrived at using the "population balance" methodology. Furthermore this includes some 420,000 people who had been listed as "missing" but in reality bought Polish surnames to avoid persecution.
Difficulty of developing accurate estimates
Some of these deaths were the result of direct, intentional actions of violent militias and senseless killings by opportunistic mobs and individuals. Other deaths were caused by the privations of a forced migration in a postwar environment characterized by crime, chaos, famine, disease, and cold winter conditions. It is almost impossible to attribute accurate proportions of deaths to specific causes.
Due to a lack of accurate records, many estimates of population transfers and associated deaths depend upon a "population balance" methodology.
Estimates of total populations expelled and deaths during the expulsions often include figures from the evacuation, because these people were not allowed to return, thus making it difficult to arrive at an accurate and undisputed estimate of population movements and deaths due solely to the expulsions.
The wide range of estimates stems from a number of factors. First, the chaos at the end of the war and immediately afterwards made it difficult to gather reliable statistics; hence there are few contemporary sources. Second, various studies used different methodologies, so that results varied by as much as an order of magnitude. There are also disputes over the definition of "expulsion", which may cover flight, evacuation, forcible expulsion, and population transfer count at various periods. Sometimes civilians killed during battles at the end of the war are counted, sometimes not. Some of the differences may arise from political bias, as the expulsion of Germans was widely utilized as political weapon on both sides of the
The estimates can be classified by methodology into two main groups:
#Method of population balance. Generally, this method tries to estimate the size German population before the process (be it expulsion in the narrow sense, or the
German exodus from Eastern Europein the broader sense) and after its end. The population deficit can than be interpreted as the number of deaths. The calculation usually starts with census data from the late 1930s, then accounts for other influences on the population size during the war, which may include military losses, civilian losses, population transfers and natural increase. The starting point for the postwar calculation is usually the expellee population in 1950 as determined by survey in West Germany and Austria, various estimates or official counts of expellees in East Germany, and the population of Germans remaining in East bloc countries.
#Methods of detailed research. Studies of this kind try to count individual deaths, by various means. Sources may include registry death records, police and military records, church files of missing and killed persons, or reports of relatives.
Studies using the population balance methodology tend to yield higher estimates than those based on detailed research.
Western cold war estimates of 1950s and 1960s
Allied American figures from
1957placed the number of Germans subject to deportation at about 16.5 million. According to this figure, about 3 million Germans were "lost on the way".Fact|date=February 2007 In 1958, U.S. Congressman B. Carroll Reececharged that 3 million German civilians had died during the expulsions. [Reece, B. Carroll, On German Provinces East of the Oder-Neisse Line and the Economic, Historical and Political Aspects Involved (speech by B. Carroll Reece of Tennessee in Washington DC 1958), translation: Das Recht auf Deutschlands Osten (Rautenberg 1957). See also Das Schicksal der Sudetendeutschen Die Sudetenfrage im US Kongress (Munich 1960), with Usher L. Burdick and John L. Rhodes; original title unknown. (All authors were members of US House of Representatives). ]
In West Germany, several influential studies were produced. One of them is "Die deutschen Vertreibungsverluste, 1939-50" (German losses from expulsion, 1939-50) by the German Federal Statistics Office. Using the population-balance method and census data for 1950, it determined the number of deaths (or in another interpretation, of persons unaccounted for) to be more than 2.1 million. [Statistisches Bundesamt, "Die deutschen Vertreibungsverluste", Wiesbaden, Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart 1958, pp.38,45,46.] The three-volume "Gesamterhebung zur Klärung des Schicksals der deutschen Bevölkerung in den Vertreibungsgebieten", (General compilation towards accounting for the fate of the German population in the areas of expulsion), Munich, 1965, confirms this figure.
Notes: Germany-The pre-war eastern German provinces that became Polish in 1945 and
Kaliningradregion that became Soviet Eastern Europe- Includes ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Danzig, the Baltic nations, Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia. Does not include the USSR. Population in 1939- Includes bilinguals who were listed as Germans. Military losses 1939-45 Research by R. Overmans has increased this total by 360,000 thus reducing civilian losses. Wartime transfers in -Wartime evacuation of persons from western Germany. Civilian losses -Losses primarily during military campaign in 1945, also includes 270,000 dead in the USSR after being deported as laborers. This table reflects the research of Reichling and Overmans that has adjusted the estimate of civilian deaths downward from the 1958 German government estimate of 2.1 million dead. Remaining in East Europe-Primarily bilinguals except in the case of Romania. Research by G. Reichling has increased this total by 230,000 thus reducing civilian losses Sources for the above table:" Gerhard Reichling. "Die deutschen Vertriebenen in Zahlen". Bonn 1986 ISBN 3-88557-046-7. Rűdiger Overmans. "Deutsche militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg". Oldenbourg 2000. ISBN 3-486-56531-1 Fritz Peter Habel "Dokumente zur Sudetenfrage" Langen Müller, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-7844-2691-3. Alfred de Zayas "Die Nemesis von Potsdam" Herbig, Munich 2005. ISBN 3-7766-2454-X. Newest statistical survey pp. 32-34.Heinz Navratil, "Schwarzbuch der Vertreibung 1945 bis 1948" Universitas Verlag, Muenchen, 2001, p. 75.
Conditions in postwar Czechoslovakia
Developing a clear picture of the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia is difficult because of the chaotic conditions that existed at the end of the war. There was no stable central government and record-keeping was non-existent. Many of the events that occurred during that period were spontaneous and local rather than being the result of coordinated policy directives from a central government. Among these spontaneous events was the removal and detention of the Sudeten Germans which was triggered by the strong anti-German sentiment at the grass-roots level and organized by local officials.
Records of food rationing coupons show approximately 3,325,000 inhabitants of occupied Sudetenland in May 1945. Of these, about 500,000 were Czechs or other non-Germans. Thus, there were approximately 2,725,000 Germans in occupied Sudetenland in May 1945.
On the initiative of the joint Czech-German Commission of Historians, a statistical and demographic investigation was conducted, resulting in the publication of the "Opinion of the Commission on the losses connected with the transfer". The number that the commission arrived at has since been accepted by a large section of the historians, press and media in other countries.
The opinion states:
#Figures for the victims of the transfer vary enormously and are thus extremely controversial. The values given in German statistical calculations [for deaths resulting from expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia] vary between 220,000 and 270,000 cases that are unaccounted for, which are in many cases interpreted as deaths; the figures given in research carried out so far varies between 15,000 and 30,000 deaths.
#The discrepancey is due to differing notions of the term "victims of the transfer".
#In the Commission's view, a particular problem with the "balance-sheet" approach is that most of the data it works with are based on model calculations and estimates that are derived from quantities that cannot be compared with one another.
Number of Germans expelled from Poland
2,612,000 Germans left Poland in 02.1946 - 12.1949 according to S. Jankowiak [Stanisław Jankowiak, "Wysiedlenie i emigracja ludności niemieckiej w polityce władz polskich w latach 1945-1970", p.207,
Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Warszawa 2005, ISBN 83-89078-80-5] , as cited by B. Nitschke.
During the pre-Potsdam expulsions, many Germans were forced to march over 100 and sometimes even 200 kilometres [Stanisław Jankowiak, "Wysiedlenie i emigracja ludności niemieckiej w polityce władz polskich w latach 1945-1970", p.91,
Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Warszawa 2005, ISBN 83-89078-80-5, after H. Szczegóła: "Die Aussiedlung der Deutschen aus Polen vor der Potsdamer Konferenz", 1994] . Different estimates of the number of Germans expelled by Polish army alone during pre-Potsdam deportations (all numbers after Jankowiak) [Stanisław Jankowiak, "Wysiedlenie i emigracja ludności niemieckiej w polityce władz polskich w latach 1945-1970", p.93, Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Warszawa 2005, ISBN 83-89078-80-5] :
* 1200 thousand, according to K.Kersten, 1964
* 300 thousand, according to S.Banasiak
* 400 thousand, K.Skubiszewski
* 500 thousand, A.Ogrodowczyk
* 300-400 thousand, S.Chojnecki, 1980
* 350-450 thousand, A.Magierska, 1978
* 200-250 thousand, T.Białecki, 1970
* 620-630 thousand, S.Zwoniński, 1983
* 230-250 thousand, Cz. Osękowski
* 500-550 thousand, Z. Romanow
* 400 thousand, B.Nitschke
* 400 thousand, M.Wille, 1996
* 600-700 thousand [Stanisław Jankowiak, "Wysiedlenie i emigracja ludności niemieckiej w polityce władz polskich w latach 1945-1970", p.95,
Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Warszawa 2005, ISBN 83-89078-80-5]
On top of that, 365,000 - 1,200,000 Germans were deported by Polish administration [Stanisław Jankowiak, "Wysiedlenie i emigracja ludności niemieckiej w polityce władz polskich w latach 1945-1970", p.!!),
Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Warszawa 2005, ISBN 83-89078-80-5] .
Estimates of deaths during the flight, evacuation and expulsions of Germans from Eastern Europe
*Hubatsch, Walther, ed.: The German Question, New York: Herder Book Center, 1967.
*Roos, Hans: A History of Modern Poland, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1966, pp. 213, 215-16.
*Schieder, Theodor, ed.: Documents on the Expulsion of the Germans from Eastern-Central Europe, Bonn (no date).pp. 62, 120, 122-23,.
*Szaz, Zoltan Michael: Germany's Eastern Frontiers: The Problem of the Oder-Neisse Line, Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1960, pp. 96, 126, 130.
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