EU Suddenly Opposes "Right of Return"

By Steven Plaut | August 26, 2004


The "right of return" has been of interest in much of the world press

in recent weeks, but this time - for a change - it is NOT the supposed

"right" of Palestinians to return to Israel's lands.  The newest

debate over the right of return concerns that of ethnic Germans, at

least 15 million of whom were expelled from their homelands at the end

of World War II.  These have suddenly become a matter of interest (see

for example the Wall Street Journal's "War Echo: Ousted by Poland in

1945, Germans Want Homes Back," Aug 11, 04) for the simple reason that

many of the countries who expelled German refugees after World War II

have become or are becoming full members of the EU.


There has arisen a wave of attempts by ethnic Germans expelled by

these countries to use EU institutions to recover property or receive

compensation, and in some cases possibly even to return to their

former homes.  Their chances of success are negligible.  That is

because the EU, led by Germany itself in this matter, is unalterably

opposed to any "right or return" for ethnic Germans.  Yes, the same EU

insists that "Palestinian refugees" have an inalienable right to

return to Israeli lands do not think ethnic German refugees have such

a right.


Before World War II, there was a large Diaspora of ethnic Germans

throughout Central and Eastern Europe.  Many were from families who

had migrated in as far back as the Middle Ages or even earlier.  They

lived in Poland, Russia, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic countries,

Hungary, and the Balkans.  In some areas they had come in when the

countries were absorbed into the Habsburg Empire or freed from Ottoman

domination.  They had entered as merchants, literate civil servants,

shop owners, mercenaries, missionaries, or other things.  Most were

urbanized and constituted almost the only skilled non-agricultural

craftsmen in the towns of underdeveloped countries.  They often

dominated the guilds.  In one of history's many delicious ironies,

German Christians often migrated to the towns and villages of Central

and Eastern Europe alongside Germanized Jews and they often worked in

the same trades.


The period between the two world wars saw the radicalization and

Nazification of many of these Germans.  The best-known story is that

of the Sudeten Germans, who played a role in the annihilation of

Czechoslovakia.  When Hitler signaled them that the time was right,

the Sudetens launched pogroms, terror atrocities, and armed uprisings

against Czechoslovakia, all in the name of "self-determination," but

in reality to provide an excuse for Nazi aggression.  Pretending to be

"oppressed" and "occupied" by democratic Czechoslovakia (sound

familiar, Middle East fans?), their "plight" was the fig leaf for

Fascist aggression by Germany.  History would later largely replay the

story, when the "Palestinians" would be Sudetenized, and their

"plight" would become the cover for the aggression by Arab Fascist

states against Israel.


Less well known are the similar tales of insurrection and sedition by

the German minorities in the rest of Europe before World War II.

While not all ethnic Germans openly supported and aided Hitler, enough

did.  After the War, most ethnic Germans were expelled at bayonet

point from the countries in which they had lived for generations, and

the refugees were "repatriated" to West Germany (and in smaller

measure to Austria).  Stalin expelled large numbers of Russia's

Germans to Siberia and other points east.


Altogether, it is estimated that 15 million ethnic Germans were

evicted from the non-German states of Central and Eastern Europe,

about three quarters of these just coming from Czechoslovakia and

Poland.  (Ethnic Japanese were at the same time expelled from

Manchuria and Korea, for essentially the same reasons.) The German

refugees were absorbed and resettled by Germany, mainly by West

Germany, and without a dime in aid from the UNRWA, the UN's refugee

agency that has ladled out cash to Palestinians for decades.  Like the

Palestinians, these ethnic Germans had become refugees due to a war of

aggression launched by their ethnic compatriots, a war in which they

found themselves on the losing side.  Unlike most Palestinian

"refugees," who became "refugees" by fleeing battle zones at the

command of Arab militia chiefs in the Israeli War of Independence,

these Germans became refugees because they were driven out by force by

their host countries AFTER World War II had been ended.  The Germans

left behind large amounts of property, whereas almost all the

Palestinian "refugees" had been impoverished sharecroppers for Arab

Feudalist aristocrats, with little or any property left behind.


More important is the fact that Germany and Austria have renounced the

rights of any of these ethnic German refugees to return to their

previous homelands and even to receive any compensation from those

countries in any form.  To the contrary, Germany (but not Austria) has

paid out reparations to the very same countries who evicted these

German refugees.  True, many of the ethnic German refugees were

innocent bystanders, who had never been Nazis and had never abused



But the German government and the Eurocrats say: Tough.  These German

refugees were just a few more millions out of the untold millions of

victims of Germany's own crimes, and they simply had to go on with

their lives without handouts.  Their "compensation" would consist of

their resettlement in a free, democratic, and prosperous capitalist

Germany.  It was a Germany that passed its own Law of Return that

allows all ethnic Germans to receive citizenship therein.  The same

Eurocrats and media pundits who denounce Israel as "racist" because it

has a Law of Return granting automatic citizenship to Jews requesting

it have never had any problem with the similar German "racist" law.

Meanwhile, there has been intense resistance in Europe even to

commemorating the plight of ethnic German refugees.


There is a lesson in all this for 2004.  Those ethnic Germans actually

had far more of a legitimate claim for compensation and recovery of

property than any "Palestinian" claiming to be a "refugee" does.

Palestinians played exactly the same role as Sudeten Germans played,

and calls for a Palestinian "right to self-determination" echo similar

calls for the Sudeten Germans from the 1930s.  Both sets of calls are

little more than a figleaf for fascist aggression against a democracy.


Like the Tory Loyalists who fled the infant United States, the ethnic

German refugees were never thought to be entitled to any compensation

from the states they fled nor from which they were driven.  Not only

did they get no compensation from the countries evicting them (neither

did the Tory Loyalist refugees expelled from the US), but Germany

itself paid compensation to the countries expelling these ethnic

Germans, countries that had fallen victims to Nazi aggression.  The

very same world leaders and media commentators who insist Israel must

compensate "Palestinians" and allow them to "return" to Israeli lands,

the lands of that same Israel that has been the victim of Arab

aggression and Fascism for almost six decades, cannot understand why

these "Palestinian refugees" should become as much of a non-issue as

are the ethnic German refugees from the late 1940s.


So what is the real reason the Euroclowns have no interest in any

"right of return" for ethnic Germans, but demand one for





Granting such a right to ethnic Germans would not result in the demise

of Israel, so the Europeans have no interest in it.




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