Current government leans more to the right to counter neo-Nazis or to pander to aging super-nationalists who were used as an excuse by Hitler to begin WWII?
In the early 1950s, the expellees organized in territorial groups “to remember the culture and history of their lost homelands, and to represent their demands,” historian Kittel says. The communities formed by the associations helped many get over their loss.
Initially, the groups had close ties to the Social Democrats – until Chancellor Willy Brandt recognized Germany’s eastern borders, drawn after World War Two, dashing all hopes the expellees may have had of a return. Today, the 20 remaining exile groups in Germany are affiliated mainly with the Christian Democrats – and are grappling with waning membership.
It’s not a surprising development, says Franke: some things can only be kept alive if they are shared in a community like a village. When people move elsewhere, it’s normal that they should find no resonance for their traditions. “You just have to fit in,” he says: even if a memorial day won’t bring back the traditions, it will at least make it possible to commemorate the people.
A date for the day of remembrance has not yet been set.