Moral implications of forced migrations : the expulsion of the Sudetenland Germans / Claudia Lambert
Includes bibliographical references (p. 91-93)
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In this thesis, I investigate the moral implications of the expulsion of more than three million Sudeten Germans from the territories known as Bohemia and Moravia in what is now considered the Czech Republic. Following World War II, the Sudeten Germans were forced from their homes in two phases. The first, in 1945, was considered the "wild' expulsions and was marked by the forcible removal of hundreds of thousands from their homes. Many Sudeten Germans were beaten, raped and murdered. In 1946, with the Potsdam Protocol in place, the expulsions were handled in a more orderly fashion and carried out by the Allied forces. Still, I demonstrate through personal case studies and press accounts that these expulsions were inhumane and carried out in much the same way as the first round. The expulsion, coupled with the forced migration of more than three million Sudeten Germans from their homes into unfamiliar territory in war-savaged Germany, with little or no support from Allied forces, constituted a crime against humanity as described in the Nuremberg Principles. Yet despite this violation of international law, no charges were ever brought forward in an international court. Through my research I conclude there seems to be no one clear reason as to why charges were never brought forward. I believe a number of circumstances could have played a role in why charges never came to light. Among them, the close of World War II with the eyes of the world focused rightly so on punishing the defendants responsible for the Holocaust and other war crimes. Another reason is that another war of our time was slowly beginning to take shape, the Cold War. Finally, the Sudeten Germans were on the losing side. While what happened to them represented a tragic and ignored part of history, there was very little sympathy for the Sudeten Germans due to the perception that they were sympathetic to Nazi Germany. I conclude that we have learned many lessons from this tragic place in history. The events that happened during World War II and in the years following provided the foundation for future international institutions and tribunals. The eyes of the world were opened to the fact that crimes against humanity could indeed happen. International laws were developed, strengthen and broadened in the years to come to punish those responsible for committing heinous acts against people. While those who committed the crimes against the Sudeten Germans were never prosecuted or punished, the international community learned a valuable and tragic lesson from this period of time. Ultimately the international community must speak out and take actions against future human-rights violations.
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