"Between 1945 and 1950, Europe witnessed the largest episode of forced migration, and perhaps the single greatest movement of population, in human history. Between 12 million and 14 million German-speaking civilians—the overwhelming majority of whom were women, old people, and children under 16—were forcibly ejected from their places of birth in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and what are today the western districts of Poland.
As The New York Times noted in December 1945, the number of people the Allies proposed to transfer in just a few months was about the same as the total number of all the immigrants admitted to the United States since the beginning of the 20th century. They were deposited among the ruins of Allied-occupied Germany to fend for themselves as best they could. The number who died as a result of starvation, disease, beatings, or outright execution is unknown, but conservative estimates suggest that at least 500,000 people lost their lives in the course of the operation."
June 11, 2012
This happened at the behest of Russia and the silent acquiescence of the Allied Powers. Czechslovakia and Poland were thus 'compensated' for their war losses with 100 miles of new land - and ethnic Germans, most who had lived in these lands for 500, 600, 700 years, were expelled.
Even though many, many people from the US and Britain protested this treatment, in the end the feeble protests were overcome with the justification that, of course, all Germans supported Hitler and somehow deserved this treatment.
Many of them were housed in the same concentration camps that had held the Poles, Jew, gypsies and other targets of German mania although these camps were now called 'refugee camps' or 'displacement camps' for the 'displaced persons'.
Eventually these millions, those that didn't die, were absorbed back into Germany and became part of the German miracle. This 'miracle' can be attributed to three factors:
- the remarkable efforts of Konrad Adenauer and the German government in managing a post-war Germany,
- the US support of Europe through the Marshal Plan and
- the willingness of the uprooted Germans to leave their past and grievances behind to work for the future.