Although most individuals are familiar with World War II history, very few are aware of the considerable human rights violations and carnage that occurred after the war was over. In this presentation, I will discuss the situation faced by more than 300,000 ethnic Germans who were victims of a harsh campaign for ethnic cleansing initiated by Josip Broz Tito, the leader of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in the aftermath of World War II, by raising awareness to this portion of history that continues to be ignored.
Most ethnic Germans that remained throughout Eastern Europe after World War II were systematically stripped of their citizenship, rights, property, homes, and, in many cases, also their lives. The other Allied powers looked away and even approved the resolutions of the Yalta Conference in 1945, which approved of the use of German labor as reparations to the Soviet Union. This resolution in fact legalized the deportation of all ethnic Germans of working age, 15% of whom never left the work camps in the Soviet Union.
Overall, approximately one third of the ethnic Germans who were left in Eastern Europe at the conclusion the war lost their lives between 1944 and 1948. Those left alive do not seek revenge, but instead a place in history and the opportunity to educate others in hopes of a safer and more humane future for all people.
Jessie Strains, ’09 Park Ridge, IL
Majors: German, Mathematics, Secondary Education
Sponsor: Charles Connell