Topic of German Expulsion Still Taboo
By Brent Davis
WATERLOO — It’s a dark chapter in world history that many know nothing about, that others refuse to acknowledge.
It concerns the expulsion of millions of Germans living in Eastern Europe after the Second World War, from such places as Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and eastern areas of Germany.
It’s estimated that as many as 15 million people may have been forced from their homes, a move in part condoned by the Allied leaders in the Potsdam Agreement, which authorized the return of Germans in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary back to Germany.
Those transfers were to be conducted in “an orderly and humane manner,” according to the agreement signed by British, American and Soviet leaders. It would prove to be anything but.
While casualty estimates vary, many historians — including Alfred de Zayas, whose books Nemesis at Potsdam and A Terrible Revenge were among the first English works to chronicle the tragedy — believe that two million Germans died as a result.
De Zayas, a lawyer and human rights expert who spent 25 years with the United Nations, says it deserves to be recognized alongside such failures of humanity as the Armenian genocide and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia.
“We would be ashamed of ourselves if we realized the magnitude of the crimes,” said de Zayas, who will speak tonight at the University of Waterloo.
“The subject matter belongs in the schools,” he said in an interview. “It should be taught in genocide courses, courses that deal with crimes against humanity.”
And although the Cuban-born de Zayas — now a professor at the Geneva School of Diplomacy & International Relations — said he “broke the taboo” by writing about the expulsion, it’s a topic that still remains off-limits to many.
“They’ve got a problem with the concept of Germans as victims,” [clearly, it doesn’t mesh too well with the established narrative — that is, Allied/Zionist hate propaganda — of the last sixty-odd years] he said. “I don’t have a problem … I came to it because I thought it was an important subject.”
He says he’s been asked whether he’s anti-Semitic or a Holocaust denier, and he quickly dismisses those assertions. [Consider the clear insinuation behind this line of questioning for a moment, please: if you sympathize with the Germans who were forcefully expelled from their homes — many of whom were civilian women and children, and millions of whom were, in fact, brutalized, raped, and murdered — you must either be an “anti-Semite” or a “Holocaust denier.” Never mind the fact that anyone (Semitic or otherwise) who speaks out against Zionist aggression or territorial expansion (in blatant violation of international law) is denounced today an “anti-Semite.” Keep in mind that the Zionists have called people like Rachel Corrie, Professors Mearsheimer and Walt, and former president Jimmy Carter “anti-Semitic,” and that even Jewish dissident professors like Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky have not been spared. Never mind the fact that many of Israel’s harshest critics are rather Semitic Palestinians, while many Israelis on the receiving end of that deserved criticism are not even technically Semites themselves. Never mind the fact that even serious mainstream Holocaust scholars have steadily revised their figures downward from the farcical “six million” and dismantled some of the more reckless and indefensible claims (human soap, lampshades made of flesh, and shrunken heads, to name just a few) which resulted in the execution of many who were, in all truth, innocent, though deemed guilty, at the Nuremberg show-trial. And never mind the fact that even the most influential so-called “Holocaust deniers” are far from denying what others refer to as “The Holocaust”; they do, however, contest the established narrative of the victors — f. ex., the inflated numbers involved, whether there was ever an official order for the liquidation of Europe’s Jewish population, as well as the questionable method of execution via delousing agent Zyklon B in non-existent gas-chambers. Clearly, the suffering of Jews, real or imaged, is supposed to trump the suffering of all others, and debate-derailing words like “anti-Semite” and “Holocaust denier” are supposed to keep free-thinkers around the world in check.]
“If I only deal with one category of victims, and deliberately ignore the experience of other victims, I am essentially taking away the human dignity of the other,” he said. “I would essentially be saying ‘my corpses are prettier than your corpses.’”
De Zayas will speak tonight at 7:30 p.m. at UW’s Arts Lecture Hall. Tickets are $12, and $10 for students and seniors.