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Memorial near Znaim an der Thaya to the Sudeten expellees of South[citation needed] Moravia.
Refugees from the East 1945 in Berlin

Heimatvertriebene (German for "expellees", literally "homeland displaced person" ) are those around 12 million ethnic Germans who fled or were expelled after World War II from parts of Germany annexed by Poland and Russia, and from other countries, who found refuge in both West and East Germany, and Austria. Refugees who had fled voluntarily but were later refused permission to return are often not distinguished from those who were forcibly deported.

In a document signed in 1950 the Heimatvertriebene organisations recognized the plight of the different groups of people living in today's Poland who were resettled there by force. The Heimatvertriebene are just one (but by far the largest) of the groups of millions of other people, from many different countries, who all found refuge in today's Germany.

Some of the expellees are active in politics and belong to the political right wing. Many others do not belong to any organizations, but they continue to maintain what they call a lawful right to their homeland. The vast majority pledged to work peacefully towards that goal while rebuilding post-war Germany and Europe.

The expellees are still highly active in German politics, and are one of the major political factions of the nation, with around 2 million members. The president of the Federation of Expellees is as of 2004 a member of the Bundestag.

Although expellees and their descendants were active in West German politics, the prevailing political climate within West Germany was that of atonement for Nazi actions. However the CDU governments have shown considerable support for the expellees and German civilian victims.

[edit] Expellee towns

As a result of the huge influx of expellees, there was a massive increase of population in some areas such as Mecklenburg (where population numbers doubled), and in some places the previous homogeneity of the population was broken by Protestant expellees moving to a purely Catholic area or conversely. The population numbers of a number of small settlements in West Germany exploded permanently due to a refugee camp on their territory or nearby. Examples of this phenomenon include Neugablonz, a quarter of Kaufbeuren in Bavaria, founded by the expellees and named after Gablonz (Jablonec nad Nisou). Neugablonz nowadays makes up a third of the town's population. An extreme example of the population explosion is Neutraubling (also in Bavaria), which had 53 inhabitants in 1947, 1300 in 1951, and 3800 in 1960. Since the refugee camps were mostly located on the sites of former hidden ammunition factories, most of these Vertriebenenst├Ądte are located in a (former) forest.

[edit] See also

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