Abstract
After years of discussions, in 2005, the German government decided to set a “visible sign” and create the Federal Foundation “Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation”. It is meant to commemorate the displacement of 60 to 80 million people in the first half of the 20th century. However, so far probably no political history institution in Germany is more controversial than the foundation. Not even the arguments about the German Historical Museum in the 1980s and the Holocaust memorial in the late 90s were so harsh. The rift goes deeply: Besides strong criticism from East Central Europe, especially from the Czech Republic and Poland, also the political parties within Germany are hopelessly divided in this regard.
This paper aims to examine German parties’ positions on the remembrance of expulsion by focusing on the specific case of the foundation. Why did they discuss this initiative so differently and controversially? What were the main discussion points, the different positions, and the underlying motives/reasons? This paper answers these question by analyzing two parliament debates and by looking at existing research. The study identifies a continuation of patterns of the past, draws conclusions on the remembrance of expulsion by the German society, and contributes to present discussions on remembrance and migration.