The Outlook and Political Participation of Expelled Women in the Early Bundesrepublik

Supervision: Martin Schulze Wessel
Researcher: Katharina Anna Aubele
Project time frame: 2011−2013



This project is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media under the programme: Memory and Identity. The Germans and their Neighbours in Central and Eastern Europe.

Approaching its subject from the dual perspective of gender studies and cultural history, this research project examines the lives of expelled German women and their scope for political action from their arrival in the western occupational zones or the Bundesrepublik to the end of the 1960s. The project’s focus is justified by the fact that expulsion was to a great extent a specifically female experience. While many men were still at the front or in prisoner-of-war camps, it was women who bore the brunt of the flight and expulsion at the end of the War, arriving with their children and older family members in the later Bundesrepublik. Until now, research on expellees has revolved around the regions from where expellees came and the regions in which they settled in the Bundesrepublik. This project looks beyond regional questions to explore the mentality of expelled women and the impact they had on their new environments.

For the women involved, the experience of flight and (violent) expulsion was a watershed in their biographies which pervaded their subsequent thinking.  It also led to their strong identification and solidarity with other expellees, while alienating them from women in the receiving society. With few exceptions the social networks of the expelled women were confined to other expellees.

This project investigates the motivations of expelled women and traces the development of their participation at the level of religious institutions, politics, and the private sphere.

International Workshop

„Zwangsmigration und Frauengeschichte in Deutschland nach 1944/45“
25.10.–26.10.2012, Munich
Conference report