Policy Makers, Germany: The 1950 Declarations from 12 mio expelled Germans : No revenge but reconciliation

Posted in Best practices | 12-Feb-13

n Aug. 5, 1950, only five years after war's end, the representatives of the displaced Germans passed a unique Charter which embodied a new spirit of reconciliation and broke through the unending displacements by the displaced. Their burden was heavy: two million Germans had been killed during the displacement, hundreds of thousands of women were raped, 400,000 civilians were forced by the USSR into slave working camps in Russia, 650,000 were brutally treated in camps in Poland and the Czech Republic, 12 million lost their entire wealth and their roots, one third was unemployed, and a great number resided in primitive camps. Their declaration read:

"We, the elected representatives of millions of expelled persons have determined ... to put forth a solemn declaration to the German people and the world public... We, the expelled persons, renounce revenge and retribution... We have lost our homeland. We have become homeless and foreigners upon this earth. God placed people in their homeland. Separating people from their homeland through use of force means to kill their spirit. We have experienced and suffered this destiny. Therefore, we feel called upon to demand that the right to one's homeland, as one of the fundamental rights given by God, be recognized and realized... The nations must realize that the fate of the German expellees, just as that of all refugees, is a world problem, the solution of which demands the highest moral responsibility and commitment to make a tremendous effort. We call upon all cultures and people of good will to participate actively, so that out of guilt, misfortune, suffering, poverty and affliction, the way to a better future for all may be found."

This self-commitment to renounce revenge by the largest group of displaced persons in the last 100 years should serve even today as a beacon, and a cornerstone in the new foundation of an anti-displacement policy. It should be a precondition for reconciliation and a successful peace policy.