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Federation of Expellees

The Federation of Expellees (Bund der Vertriebenen, BdV) is a union of the German Heimatvertriebene (literally: "the ones driven from their homeland") following the German expulsion after World War II. It is the result of the diaspora of the approximately 15 million ethnic Germans and German citizens, who in the years surrounding World War II fled or were evicted from countries occupied by Stalin's Red Army, particularly those parts of eastern Germany that after World War II became part of Poland, Soviet Union as well as Sudeten Germans from the former Czechoslovakia and other countries.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Charter of the Ethnic German Refugees
3 Organization
4 German Laws concerning Expellees
5 Recent developments
6 Presidents
7 Further reading
8 External links


It is estimated that between 1.8 and 3 million German refugees died during the forced trek, mostly of having to walk thousands of kilometers to west of the Oder/Neisse river in Germany, over the frozen Baltic Sea and heavy snow and of starvation.

In the period from 1940 to 1950, Germans were forced to move out of these territories or out of other Eastern European countries. At the time this was considered by some to be justifiable as punishment for the atrocities of Nazi Germany in Eastern Europe and by others as a matter of realpolitik. Some countries justified expulsion by high treason committed by their ethnic Germans during the war, in the form of acceptation of German citizenship (see Volksdeutsche). However, the process was forced by Nazis and in many cases Germans had no other choice. Generally sympathy for the plight of the expelled Germans was and remains low among families of victims of Nazi policy in many countries of Eastern Europe.

Even though after World War II, some limited number refugees returned to their homes, but were then expelled by the new communist regimes in these countries.

Charter of the Ethnic German Refugees

The Charta der deutschen Heimatvertriebenen (Charter of the Ethnic German Refugees) of August 5, 1950 announced their belief in requiring that "the right to the homeland is recognized and carried out as one of the fundamental rights of mankind given by God", while renouncing revenge and retaliation in the face of the "infinite wrong" of the previous decade, and supporting the unified effort to rebuild Germany and Europe.


The expellees are organized in 21 territorial associations (Landsmannschaften), 16 state organizations (Landesverbände) and 5 associate member organizations. It is the single representative federation for the approximately 15 million Germans which after fleeing, being expelled, evacuated or emigrated, found refuge in the Federal Republic of Germany.

The current president of the federation is the German politician Erika Steinbach (CDU), who also is a member of the Bundestag.

The Federation helps members to integrate into German society. Many of the members assist the societies of their place of birth.

Member organizations


German Laws concerning Expellees

Between 1953 and 1991 the West German government, the Bundesregierung, has passed several laws dealing with the expellees. Most notable of these laws is the law of return which granted West Germany citizenship to any ethnic German. Several additions were made to these laws: [1].

Recent developments

Under previous governments, especially those led by the CDU, the (West) German government has shown more rhetorical support for the refugeed and expelled Germans. SPD governments have been traditionally less supportive of the Heimatvertriebene and it was under an SPD government under Willy Brandt that recognized the Oder-Neisse line as part of a policy of Ostpolitik.

Nevertheless, support for the aims of these groups within the German electorate remains low, and recent German governments both CDU and SPD have tended to favor better relationship with Eastern Europe even when this conflicted with the interests of the Heimatvertriebenen. The issue of the Eastern border of Germany and of return of Heimatvertiebene to their original home is an issue which the current German government at the moment consider closed.


Further reading

External links