Postscript to WWII: the mass exodus of Germans from former occupied countries

Results of an air raid on Ústí nad Labem in 1945. <a href=>Photo Credit</a>
Results of an air raid on Ústí nad Labem in 1945. Photo Credit

The mass deportations, voluntarily and otherwise, of Germans at the end of World War Two from various European countries is largely forgotten by history.

A glimpse of some possessions and the stories behind them is the focus of the Usti municipal museum exhibition that opened February 17th in Usti nad Labem, North Bohemia, Czechoslovakia.

The exhibition was organized by the House of the German East in Munich, Germany. The museum translated the texts into Czech and bolstered the number of items from its region to the display that will be open until May 14.

Exhibition curator Tomas Okurka said the people often had only small pieces of baggage weighing between 30 to 50 kilograms. They most often took the items they required the most such as basic cookware, clothes, pillows and duvets in addition to personal items like children’s toys or prayer books.

Expulsion of Germans after World War II. Photo Credit
Expulsion of Germans after World War II. Photo Credit

Stains left on handkerchiefs by lipstick with which swastikas were painted on the faces of Germans are visible on the handkerchiefs taken from Prague by Kathe Zich from Rosenfeld, exhibition authors wrote.

A teddy bear owned by a small girl from Brno whose family moved to Vienna and later Munich is another of the exhibits.

Okurka said Germans who were known as anti-fascists were permitted to take furniture with them.  They could have remained in Czechoslovakia following the war but the majority elected to leave.

The exhibition also illustrated the history of the German settlements in East and Central Europe. According to the information in the exhibit, the descendants of one-third of the citizens of present day Germany originated from East Europe, Prague Monitor reported.

After Nazi Germany lost the Second World War in 1945, several million German residents had to leave Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Austria, first by sudden expulsions and later by organized deportations. Approximately three million Germans left Czechoslovakia.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE