Monday, October 01, 2012

Allied Atrocity

In like vein to learning about the Morgenthau Plan, I read in the Chronicle of Higher Education (H.T.: Robin) about the postwar deportation of German civilians from across Europe:

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. … 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 . . . . 

The European Atrocity You Never Heard About 2

Ironically, no more than 100 or so miles away from the camps being put to this new use, the surviving Nazi leaders were being tried by the Allies in the courtroom at Nuremberg on a bill of indictment that listed "deportation and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population" under the heading of "crimes against humanity."

The article says the deportations “achiev[ed] their governments' prewar ambition to create ethnically homogeneous nation-states.”  What it doesn’t do is remind us that Hitler’s own formal casus belli was, in many instances IIRC, to “protect” the German ex-pats living in the countries he invaded.  I’ll leave it to you to judge the merits of this claim, but I can kind of see how, considering how much suffering Hitler inflicted on the countries he occupied, that they were eager to rid themselves of any chance the pretext could be used again.  And in that sense, it certainly worked.

That said, I take this as further evidence that we today indulge ourselves in a lot of moral preening with respect to the Nazis that isn’t especially supported by the actual history.

1 comment:

Professor Hale said...

I agree. Also I would like to point out that even if the relocations were well planned and provisioned resulting in people moving into modern "project" housing, they still would have been considered an atrocity by modern standards.

Also, by modern standards, many here in America are wondering why that is such a bad thing. We are currently inundated by people that we see as "not like us" and would deering love to send them back, even in the second and third generations. Moslems are high on my list.

Throughout history forced relocations was considered to be a humane alternative to extermination and normally happened voluntarily (though under the durress of war). In the case of the Germans (or Germanic peoples in "greater Germany") it was seen as an opportunity to renbalance the scales of germanic migrations. Heck in some case it may even have been thought of as humanitarian since the germans in those areas would certainly have been persecuted.

Just my thoughts.