The evacuation of Germans from Slovakia, 1944/45. A population caught between Slovak National Uprising and the final agonies of National Socialist ethnic and resettlement policies
A project of Collegium Carolinum in collaboration with the Historical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Slovak Republic
This project is supported by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media as part of the academic funding program for work on the culture and history of the Germans of Eastern Europe.
The evacuation of the German civilian population from Slovakia 1944/45 has received hardly any attention against the wider background in which it occurred. With a focus on the wider events of the last year of the Second World War, the project aims to analyse the evacuation in the context of National Socialist ethnic and resettlement policies, the activities of the Slovakian State and the developments that occurred in the affected areas.
The evacuation and flight of the German civilian population from Eastern Europe in 1944 and 1945 has right up until this day mainly been discussed in terms of the events in the former Eastern provinces of Germany. Much less attention has been paid to developments in the states of East Central and South-Eastern Europe then under German domination. The migrations triggered by the events of the war and those conducted by German authorities in which half a million people moved from Romania, the Serbian portion of the region of Banat, Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia had a variety of specific regional features. These events were affected by the tense relations between an even further radicalized National Socialist system of domination during the final phase of the war and the various collaborationist regimes in each of the relevant countries. Studies already in existence consider the evacuation actions by German authorities during the last stages of the war mostly in isolation. They have tended to ignore both National Socialist occupation and resettlement policies and parallel developments in these countries.
A German-Slovakian team is now researching the evacuation from Slovakia. Aside from engaging in a treatment of concrete historical events, the aim is primarily to contextualize those events as a consequence of the National Socialist ethnic and resettlement policies and as a result of military developments. Apart from taking a comparative view of the simultaneous evacuation of German ethnic groups from many states in South-Eastern Europe, this approach will also give special consideration to the evacuation actions taken by the Slovakian State during that period, as well as to other movements of fleeing populations. But one also needs to consider the actions taken in 1944 to 1945 by German and Slovak authorities to recruit manpower, which are practically inseparable from the evacuation and population clearance activities with which the study concerned itself. It is also planned to undertake regional soundings on developments that occurred in areas of German settlement in Slovakia during and after the Slovak National Uprising. Through these soundings, we aim to analyse the stances taken by people as they were affected by political and military events and by the evacuation operations that were undertaken at the time. Finally, the project will also take on the task of considering attitudes to these events during the post-war period. The results of this research will be published. A workshop is planned for 2017 in order to present and discuss the interim results of the research effort.
Contact: Martin Zückert