Monuments and Commemorative Sites for German Expellees
Expulsion was a stigmatized issue. The fact that we can now look forward to a happy ending to the story of the documentation centre means that a previously uncharted area of our commemorative landscape will finally be mapped out. This is overdue, helps to consolidate our pan-German identity, and offers some consolation to the expellees.1 From the perspective of Erika Steinbach, Chair of the League of Expellees (Bund der Vertriebenen, hereafter LoE), things seemed to have a ‘happy ending’. In their coalition agreement of 2005, the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) committed themselves to ‘both the social and the historical re-assessment of enforced migration, flight, and expulsion’, and decided to ‘erect a visible sign in the spirit of reconciliation in Berlin in order to […] commemorate the injustice of expulsions and to outlaw expulsion for good’.2 This ‘visible sign’, detailed in a cabinet resolution on 19 March 2008, is to be erected under the auspices of a dependent foundation, with the German Historical Museum (Deutsches Historisches Museum) being named as the supporting legal entity. Apart from members of the German Parliament, the Federal Government, and the German expellees, other social groups have been called to sit on the supervisory body of this dependent foundation. Moreover, an advisory board will be established, including international experts, in particular from neighbouring countries. The intended site is the state-owned Deutschlandhaus in Berlin-Kreuzberg. At the time of going to press there is at best sketchy agreement on the precise form of this ‘visible sign’, and the success of the whole enterprise will essentially depend on how far Steinbach is not going to be involved in it.3
KeywordsFederal Republic Federal State Visible Sign High Cross Social Democratic Party
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