What is the legacy?

After the end of the Cold War

For more than forty years after 1945 the problem of the Sudeten Germans was frozen by the Cold War. In the West organisations like the Suddeutsche Landmannschaft kept alive their grievances and their hopes of returning but there was no hope of achieving what they actually wanted. In the East Communist propaganda refused to recognize that there was a problem at all. There was little or no contact between the expellees living in the West and the towns and villages they had left behind. 


The end of the Cold War opened up new possibilities. There was freedom of travel and people began to look at the past with new eyes. Contacts were established between the towns where expellees lived and the towns in Czechoslovakia the older generation had left forty years before. Historians and journalists began researching again the 'transfer' of populations and its consequences. There was a surge of new memorials commemorating the past. Many people turned to the law to try to gain compensation for their losses, or recognition of what they had suffered. 


When the Czech Republic and Slovakia entered the EU in 2004, there was even more emphasis on the need for reconciliation and cooperation. There was a lot of pressure to reform the way that the history of painful past events was taught. Although these efforts have had much success they have also provoked dissent and resentment. The legacy of what happened to the Sudeten Germans after the Second World War is still sensitive.


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