War and Social Upheaval: World War II--Territorial Changes (1939-45)

Figure 1.--

World War II resulted in more extensive trritorial changes in Europe, both during and after the German surender in May 1945. The great mass population movement in European history followed. There were more than 35 million displaced people. Many were slave labores brought to Germany for slave labor. Few survived the NAZI death camps. Many other millions were POWs. Many more millions moved with the changes of borders. The Gernans expelled non-Germans from ares annexed to the Reich and planned Geman colonies in the eastern territories. Many German satellite countries, especially in the Balkans seized territory or took actions agains minorities. There was terrible ttrocities in the states set up in Yugoslavia. After the War, German civilians pade the price for NAZI attrocities. Many fled with the retreating Weremacht back to the Reich. Most of those who stayed were deported by the new post-War governments. It was the children of course who suffered in these mass population movements--many did not survive.


The Germans invaded Belgium again in 1940. The German-speaking areas of of eastern Belgium were re-annexed to the Reich. Their boys and men were drafted and sent to the eastern front. This in turn led to repression after 1945 when the area was returned to Belgium. The Germans living in Belgium and Holland have met with serious problems-- except perhaps with an amount of social ostracism during the first few years after the War. This is of course of those who had not comitted serious crimes during he War. One reader reports, "I have a feeling that Belgians were slightly less resentful than people in Holland. I remember a programme, sponsored by the RC Church for German and Austrian war orphans. People took them into their homes for summer time. This must have been about 10 years after war's end. Men who came home from the eastern front--even those who hadn't been true sympathizers with the NAZIs--were treated as traitors and collaborators with the NAZI reime and for a number of years their was another thrust to eliminate the German language from public life. After 1960 they won a limited degree of home rule.








Christopher Wagner

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Created: July 28, 2002
Last updated: July 28, 2002