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Friederike Eigler

Flight, Expulsion and Forced Migration (17.07.2015)

In public discourse, the topic of "Flight and Expulsion," that is, the forced migration of millions of ethnic Germans at the end of the Second World War, continues to be politically highly sensitive (see the recent controversies surrounding the foundation Flucht, Vertreibung, Versöhnung). There is consensus that post-war German history cannot be adequately understood without consideration of the influx of millions of Germans from the Eastern territories (who made up 20% to 25% of the post-war population in East and West Germany). However, attention to flight and expulsion and to the attendant victimization of Germans is often viewed as being at odds with the recognition of Germany's responsibility for WWII and the Holocaust. As a result, scholars have largely shied away from examining the momentous events of forced migration and their lasting effects on subsequent generations, -- a situation that has changed only in the past two decades. Writers, on the other hand, began to address these issues in the post-war period and continue to do so to the present day. The lecture will discuss recent developments in both scholarship and in literature. Special attention will be given to the concept of (forced) migration, the role of postmemory, generational changes, and changing notions of place and belonging.

Prof. Dr. Friederike Eigler

Professor of German and Chair of the German Department at Georgetown University


Publications (selected)

  • Heimat, Space, Narrative: Toward a Transnational Approach to Flight and Expulsion. Rochester N.Y.: Camden House, 2014.
  • With Jens Kugele: Heimat at the Intersection of Memory and Space. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2012.
  • Gedächtnis und Geschichte in Generationenromanen seit der Wende. Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag, 2005.