After the second world war, what happened to all the Germans living east of the Oder? I mean, are all the descendants of the Germans living in Danzig, Breslau, Königsberg, etc., concentrated in a certain area in today's Germany? Or are they scattered through out the country fully integrated?

Did they live in East Germany during the cold war?


2 Answers 2


After the war and after the territorial changes resulting from this war, there was a massive "exchange of population". Germans were forced to move from new territories of Poland and Czechoslovakia to Germany. Poles were forced to move from Soviet Union to Poland. Ukrainians were forced to move from Poland to Soviet Union. All Germans from the new Kaliningrad region of Soviet Union (=former east Prussia) were moved to Germany.
The numbers of people moved in each case were millions. At the time when this happened (the years immediately after WWII) there was no East and West Germany (as separate states. There were Russian, British, French and US occupation zones, but movement between them was possible). People who were moved were not resettled on some well defined territory. They were just scattered over Germany. (Same thing happened to other resettled people). Political organizations of those displaced Germans who demanded return existed in West Germany for long time, but I am not sure whether they still exist. (In Soviet Union and Communist Poland and Czechoslovakia, no political organizations independent of the government could legally exist).

This kind of massive population exchange had a precedent in the 1920th when a similar thing happened between Greece and Turkey. I do not know any earlier example. Later the same thing happened with newly formed India and Pakistan, and on a smaller scale in many other cases.

  • 3
    In the case of many Ukrainians, the Soviet Union moved to them
    – Henry
    Jun 2, 2016 at 21:09
  • 1
    @Henry: Great phrasing; I love it. Jun 4, 2016 at 18:08
  • @Henry - You may owe Yackov Smirnoff 10% of any reputation gain for using it though. :-)
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 30, 2016 at 21:10

In German these people are/were called Heimatvertriebene. Their political/cultural organizations used to have a revanchist worldview, but they toned it down in recent decades. Many Heimatvertriebene did not join those organizations for that reason.

Other Germans did not leave in time before the iron curtain came down and went to Germany after the end of the Cold War. They are called Spätaussiedler.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.