Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Significant Date

 JANUARY 19, 1946

At the end of the Second World War, millions of ethnic Germans were deported from Central and Eastern European countries because of the actions of Nazi Germany. They were deported because "collective guilt" and because they simply shared the same language as their mother country. The deportation was a punishment based on the notion of collective crime by an evil regime. The ethnic Germans in Hungary were sent back to Germany in wagons, many of which had signs saying “Farewell, our homeland!”.

Ethnic Germans had lived in Hungary for centuries. They were invited by the kings and queens of Hungary to populate the Kingdom of Hungary during the Middle Ages. The ethnic Germans brought their talents, expertise and wealth to help build up Hungary. They built up entire towns and cities and even defended Hungary with their military service over the years. The ethnic Germans were able to assimilate very well into Hungarian society.

The deportation of the ethnic Germans in Hungary was ordered by the communist authorities who had taken over power immediately after the Second World War. The deportation occurred on January 19, 1946. According to the official statistics, 55,000-60,000 Germans were taken to forced labour camps from Hungary to the Soviet Union in 1945. In 1946, 200,000-220,000 of Germans living in Hungary were deported to Germany. It was a great loss for not only the country but the people of Hungary. Ethnic Germans stood side by side with their Magyar (Hungarian) brothers for centuries. Only now has the deportation been recognized and a memorial day established. 

On December 17, 2013, the Hungarian Parliament passed a decree declaring January 19 the memorial day for deported Germans and rejected the idea of collective guilt. Conservative Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the deportation of ethnic Germans from Hungary 68 years ago, was "an irreparable loss for the entire nation." Orban went on to say that "Each person is responsible for his/her own action. An entire nation can't be held accountable for the sins of certain individuals just because they speak the same language. But, there are still forces insisting that entire nations or groups of people can be stigmatized for the wrongdoings of certain individuals. Sins can't be corrected by committing more sins; alleged sins even less so, but certainly, not by imposing collective punishment." 

By marking this day, the Hungarian Parliament recognizes the equal suffering of different groups and pays homage to those who were unjustly deported immediately after WW2. Historians estimate that by 1950, a total of at least 12 million ethnic Germans had fled or were expelled from east-central Europe. The deportation or expulsion of ethnic Germans has been described as The events have been variously described as population transfer, ethnic cleansing or genocide. 

For more on the deportation of ethnic Germans after WW2, click here: link