People on the Move: Forced Population Movements in Europe in the Second World War and Its Aftermath

People on the Move: Forced Population Movements in Europe in the Second World War and Its Aftermath

People on the Move: Forced Population Movements in Europe in the Second World War and Its Aftermath

People on the Move: Forced Population Movements in Europe in the Second World War and Its Aftermath

Synopsis

Europe has a long history of state-led population displacement on ethnic grounds. The nationalist argument of ethnic homogeneity has been a crucial factor in the mapping of the continent. At no time has this been more the case than during and after the Second World War. Both under the aggressive expansionism of the Third Reich and after Germany's defeat, millions were brutally forced out of their homelands. Presenting a history from the top as well as the bottom, People on the Move reconstructs the complex map of forced population displacements that took place across Europe during and immediately after the Second World War.

Excerpt

This book is the result of a collaborative venture which involved six authors from different cultural backgrounds, languages and historiographical traditions from all over Europe. As such, it presented a notable challenge for all involved — a challenge of which the authors were aware from the very beginning of the project. In addition, the topic itself presented a major challenge. Forced movements of populations are arguably one of the most dramatic and significant events during and after the Second World War, but the authors of this book realized during their research that the subject has been treated very unevenly so far. Some aspects of the subject were well defined; in other cases, however, the historiography was 'peripheral' insofar as it was in languages that are not widely read. Moreover, some aspects of the subject had not been dealt with by historians at all.

The book is the result of seven years of work on the question of 'The Migration of the Masses' within a larger research project, 'The Impact of National Socialist and Fascist Occupation in Europe, 1938–1950', funded by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and directed by Wolfgang Benz (Berlin) and Hans Blom (Amsterdam). This ambitious project consisted of six research teams and brought together historians from all over Europe. For the first time since the fall of communism this project provided an opportunity to exchange ideas within a profession that had been divided by the ideological split between West and East since 1945.

After an inaugural meeting in Trento, Italy, in December 2000, there were two more joint meetings of all teams, in September 2003 in Jachranka/Warsaw, Poland, and in April 2005 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

In addition to the three joint meetings, the research team on 'The Migration of the Masses' held three specialized workshops: Budapest, Hungary, September 2001, Villa Vigoni, Italy, October 2002, Jachranka/Warsaw, Poland, September 2003. Many scholars who were not part of the core team gave papers at these seminars and offered numerous important observations and comments. These papers were an indispensable part of the preparation of this book, and all authors express their gratitude to the contributors of these essays and to the institutions that hosted us.

It quickly transpired that the greatest challenge for this team was to go beyond specializations of its members, widening the research in order to produce a volume which was as balanced as possible and which would be able to highlight all aspects . . .

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