There were many forced migrations throughout the history of our society, and quite a few of them were quite large. These types of migrations can often leave an indelible trace on the history of our planet. Among the numerous forced migrations in the history of the world, one stands out as the largest, and it is the expulsion of the Germans.
It happened during the later stages of World War II and after its ending, and it is believed that almost 15 million Germans were expelled from Central Europe or fled from it during that period. Winston Churchill was the mastermind behind this idea, with the aid of the Polish and Czechoslovak exile governments. It is believed that the idea of exiling Germans originated as early as 1942.
The Expulsion Of The Germans
Throughout the duration of this migration, millions of Germans were expelled from many Eastern and Central European countries. These countries included Czechoslovakia and other former German provinces such as East Prussia, Pomerania, and Silesia. These provinces were annexed by other neighboring countries, which explains why the German people living there were exiled. The reason why this happened is still not entirely known. But it is, of course, tied to the German policies during World War II.
This forced migration managed to reverse the German plans of expanding towards the east and colonizing the areas there. The policies conducted by the National Socialists were naturally the main reason this happened.
The migration, or exile, was the result of everything they were doing. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during World War II, was the main organizer of this migration. He connected with the Polish and Czechoslovakian exile governments and organized the entire ordeal. Some politicians were against this and wanted to assimilate the German citizens into their countries. However, this didn’t happen.
In the Soviet Union, Stalin wanted to expel all ethnic Germans from his country and other countries that were under Soviet occupation. He started transporting Germans in 1941. However, the real meat and potatoes of this migration started in 1944. Between that year and 1948, millions of ethnic Germans, as well as German citizens, were moved from Eastern and Central Europe. Some were moved only temporarily, but the majority of them were moved permanently.
The Three Phases
By the year 1950, somewhere around 12 million Germans were expelled from east-central Europe. Some chose to flee, as well. They escaped into Germany, which was occupied by the Allies and Austria. The exact number is reported to be around 14.6 million people. This makes it the largest forced migration in history.
The largest number of people that migrated came from territories in eastern Europe that were previously under German occupation. These territories were ceded to Poland and the Soviet Union, and the number of people exiled from there is around seven million. The number of people that were exiled from Czechoslovakia is approximately three million.
During the duration of this migration, many people died. The estimated number of people that died is anywhere from 500,000 to 2.5 million. It is extremely hard to determine the exact number of people that lost their lives while being exiled. The entire process was divided into three phases. The first phase was the evacuation of ethnic Germans that was ordered by the Nazi government. The second phase was the fleeing of ethnic Germans from various parts of eastern Europe. This phase was not as organized as the first one. The final phase was more organized again, and it was an expulsion of Germans by the Allied Forces.