Artur Stab’s photo album, Hussenbach 1941 © Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation; Photo: Thomas Bruns
In the summer of 1941, Artur Stab assembled an album with pictures of his family and his hometown Hussenbach (now Linjowo, Russian Federation), a settlement in the Soviet Republic of the Volga Germans. Just a few weeks later, troops from Soviet intelligence deported the town’s residents to Siberia. In total, approximately 452,000 Germans living in the Volga region were forcibly expelled to Kazakhstan and Siberia. The Soviets accused them all of engaging in espionage and sabotage for the German Reich.
Der Spiegel, 5 April 1999 © DER SPIEGEL 14/1999
In the spring of 1999, the conflict between the Serbian armed forces and the Kosovar liberation army in Kosovo had taken on a new dimension. After the failure of peace negotiations and the withdrawal of international observers, NATO flew air strikes against Serbian positions. Serbian military forces then proceeded, systematically and with extreme violence, against the majority population of Albanians. Hundreds of thousands fled to Albania and Macedonia.
Life jacket, Pozzallo 2016 © Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation; Photo: Thomas Bruns
In 2016, many people crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Italy in overcrowded boats, wearing life jackets like this one. They fled from the North African coast and were received in the ports of Sicily and Lampedusa after a sea rescue. Yet because many boats capsized on the open sea, many people drowned; in 2016 alone, over 3,000 people had died by October. This life jacket comes from the port of Pozzallo in Sicily.
Resident identification papers for Poland, Warthegau 1942 © Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation; Photo: Thomas Bruns
The Reichsgau Wartheland was one of the areas of Poland annexed by the German Reich as of 1939, in violation of international law. National Socialist policy sought to “Germanize” these areas, meaning to remove the Polish population and replace them with German settlers. Between 1939 and 1941, about 280,000 Poles were forcibly expelled from the Reichsgau Wartheland.
Photo from the series, “The Art of Killing“, Czech Republic 2013 © Lukáš Houdek
Czech photo artist Lukáš Houdek (b. 1984) uses Barbie dolls to stage scenes of brutal violence that took place during the wild expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia. This image refers to the “Brünner death march” of 31 May 1945. Czech militias forced the German-speaking population of Moravia to march towards the Austrian border. Within just a few days, about 5,000 people died as a result of violence, exhaustion, hunger and thirst.
A jar of native soil, Karelia 2007 © Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation; Photo: Thomas Bruns
In 2007, Pirjo Airikka of Finland (b. 1946) visited Revonsaari in Karelia, now part of the Russian Federation. Her family once owned a farm there; they had to leave their property for the first time in 1939, and then for good in the summer of 1944. A total of about 440,000 Finnish Karelians lost their homeland during World War II, whether through resettlement or flight, as large tracts of the region had to be ceded to the Soviet Union. Pirjo Airikka took a jar of soil as a memento of her journey to Karelia.
Handcart of the Werth family, 1945 © Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation; Photo: Sebastian Ahlers
In 1945, the Polish authorities expelled the Werth family from Reetz in the Neumark (now Recz, Poland). At the time they did not have a suitable means of transportation, yet the grandmother happened to find an abandoned handcart on a street corner. They loaded up the cart with as much as it could carry and then set off on the 200-kilometer walk to Berlin. Many years later, the son Lothar Werth used the handcart to build his house in Berlin.
Propaganda poster, »Nad Odrę« [To the Oder River] to attract Polish settlers, Krakow 1946 © Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation; Photo: Sebastian Ahlers
While the German population was still being expelled, a “Ministry for Reclaimed Territories” in Poland campaigned for the resettlement of formerly German areas along the Oder River. About one-quarter of the Polish settlers in western Poland were expellees themselves. They came from regions in the east that Poland had to relinquish to the Soviet Union.
Hand-knitted Robber Hotzenplotz, Eichenau 2014 © Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation; Photo: Jens Ziehe
Ingeborg Schmidt knitted this puppet for her husband in 2014, modeling it on Otfried Preussler’s famous children’s book character, Robber Hotzenplotz. Ernst Schmidt was born in Hotzenplotz (Czech: Osoblaha) in Moravian Silesia in 1929. He and about three million Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia after the end of the war. Preussler was familiar with Hotzenplotz from his own childhood. He himself came from Liberec and drew inspiration for his stories from the German and Slavic tales of Bohemia.
A Near East Relief poster with an appeal for donations, New York 1918 © Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation; Photo: Sebastian Ahlers
The American Committee for Relief in the Near East was founded in 1915 on the initiative of Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. Ambassador in Constantinople at the time. He had heard several reports on the deportation of Christian minorities from Asia Minor, especially the Armenians from Anatolia, and the genocide that was developing there. This aid organisation sought to deliver food and establish orphanages and refugee camps in order to save as many lives as possible. Donations by U.S. citizens funded the effort.
Handmade clothes hanger, Hamdorf 1946 © Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation; Photo: Thomas Bruns
After their expulsion from the East Prussian village of Wielitzken (now Wieliczki, Poland) in November 1945, the Brozio family found a new home two months later in Hamdorf in the German state of Schleswig Holstein. The family was forced to leave all of their belongings behind; the possessions they had taken with them were lost during the two-month journey in rail freight cars. In Hamdorf, a room was assigned to the family. This was where the father began to carve clothes hangers out of tree branches.
“Marasch schools” tapestry from the series, “The texture of identity”, Berlin 2013 © Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation; Photo: Thomas Bruns
Remembering the lives of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and their expulsion and murder is a central motif in the artistic works of Silvina Der-Meguerditchian (b. 1967), who has Armenian roots herself. This tapestry commemorates the Armenian school system in the Marasch region (now Maraş ,Turkey). Thousands of Armenian families lived here up to the beginning of the Armenian genocide in 1915.
Winter coat, 1941 © Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation; Photo: Arne Psille
Dorette Jendretzki was born in November 1946 in a freight car between Liegnitz (now Legnica, Poland) and Sagan (now Żagań, Poland). Her family had just been expelled from Kreuzburg (now Kluczbork, Poland) in Upper Silesia. Her mother was wearing this coat when she gave birth. The lower part of the coat had to be removed so that she could continue to wear it afterwards.