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A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans, 1944 - 1950 Paperback – August 15, 1994

4.3 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This book touches on a very sensitive subject and one that has been hidden from view. De Zayas takes on a very tough assignment, one that is highly sensitive: how the Germans living in eastern Europe were driven out from their homeland as a result of political negotiating and juggling during WWII. It is a book that should have been written already many years ago. My father, originally from East Prussia, gave this book to me to show me what our family suffered during the years of the WWII and afterwards. Both of my parents were born in Germany. I am a first generation German-American, a native of Wisconsin. This is a book I highly recommend for several reasons. First it teaches us that all ethnic groups during times of war are ugly and hateful to each other. There is no society/culture in the world that is superior over another. Second, history is important to study so that we learn from it and do not make the same mistakes again. Sadly history seems to repeat itself. Third, this is an important lesson about ethnic cleansing; western society just seems to take it for granted that certain ethinc groups can be discrimminated against no matter what. Case in point here is that it has come to be 'accepted', since WWII, that all German people are suposed to be discrimminated against for ' eternity', even those Germans like myself who are innocent and had no part in the Jewish Holocaust. During the 1960's when I was a young child growing up in the U.S.A. I remember the terrible discrimmination against me by others in my community because I was German. I was an innocent child who had to suffer for something I never did. My experiences resulted from events that happened in the 1940's, years before I was even born! --Karin Susan Fester This book tells the tale of millions of ethnic Germans who were murdered, deported or otherwise ethnically cleansed from areas in eastern Europe towards the end of World War II and in the immediate years following the Third Reich's final defeat. This story has rarely been touched upon in books until now. The author recounts many first hand narratives of survivors of the violence that was doled out to anyone of German ancestry who found themselves in areas conquered by the Soviet army plus lists evidence gathered by the German Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau. Among the horrors the reader will encounter is the savagery dealt out to citizens of the German town of Nemmersdorf which included crucifictions of women and the mass murder of children. The reader will march along ethnic Germans being forced from their homes in eastern Europe and will witness the wholesale murders that befell many. De Zayas proves that victims know no nationality. I recommend this book for all interested in World War II and the immediate aftermath. --Bobby Dillard Alfred-Maurice De Zayas' book recounts the events that unfolded during the first few-months of 1945 in Germany's historic eastern provinces. This tragedy, that was the extermination of an 800-year old civilization in Eastern Europe, is regrettably an event that still remains an unknown, even in modern western intellectual circles. De Zayas' book decribes the harrowing tale that the 13 million eastern Germans faced: the largest ethnic-cleansing of human beings, the largest maritime evacuation of civilians, and the most horrific naval disasters in history. The book is a monument to the great cruelty and depravity that mankind is capable of, and the little dignity that even moral powers can have for their victims. It is a dedication to the millions that suffered because of their ethnic origin and to the 2.5 million Germans that vanished. Today, the survivors and relatives of these expellees acount for 1/5 of the German population. This book will be intstrumental in understanding the future evolution of Polish-German and Czech-German affairs. A DEFINITE BUY! ----Miguel Rodriguez

"De Zayas has uncovered testimony in German and American archives detailing these atrocities, adding a new chapter to the annals of human cruelty. His carefully documented book serves as a reminder that many different peoples have been subjected to ethnic cleansing."--Publishers Weekly "DeZayas's moving plea is that one's home should be a human right. As frontiers once more shift in Eastern Europe, he could hardly have chosen a better moment to deliver it. --The Times ( London )

This is an exceptionally well researched book. This history and review of available facts of an untold part of history placed stories I had heard from German refugees while I was a child growing up in West Germany after the war in a clear perspective. The descriptions of historical facts and review of sequence of events at the end of the war have brought more clarity than ever to the questions many of us children have asked ourselves. We were the generation who was not told the whole truth about the terrible atrocities German civilians suffered because they were declared guilty by nationality and birth. It is a good thing to have the truth spoken, especially so if it is presented with a good foundation of facts and excerpts from archives as in this book. The witness acoounts are terrifying and heartbreaking. There has never been justice or recourse for these victims, many of whom have immigrated to Canada and the U.S. and quietly integrated themselves into their newly adopted countries' cultures. It also explains the necessity of crisis centres in the big cities of West Germany designed to assist survivors plagued by the images and traumatic memories they were trying so hard to forget. This is a story that has never been told and was well written and presented in this book. Perhaps some day it will be permitted to be presented to a broader audience...although personally, I won't hold my breath: A nation declared guilty by race and birth, women, children, the innocent, resistance fighters, and ordinary soldiers doing their job of defending as ordered by their country without committing any crimes alike, Germans have been the perfect image for everything dark and evil in the past and present. That projected image is simply too convenient to give up. Revenge is the right word for what happened to the German survivors of World War II in the East, and Ethnic Cleansing is the accurate term. This has recently been recognized by the United Nations,and Germany has finally been in a position to honour the millions who died in that ethnic cleansing after 1945. --By Annette Lorenz

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 179 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (August 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312121598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312121594
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,014,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book tells the tale of millions of ethnic Germans who were murdered, deported or otherwise ethnically cleansed from areas in eastern Europe towards the end of World War II and in the immediate years following the Third Reich's final defeat. This story has rarely been touched upon in books until now. The author recounts many first hand narratives of survivors of the violence that was doled out to anyone of German ancestry who found themselves in areas conquered by the Soviet army plus lists evidence gathered by the German Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau. Among the horrors the reader will encounter is the savagery dealt out to citizens of the German town of Nemmersdorf which included crucifictions of women and the mass murder of children. The reader will march along ethnic Germans being forced from their homes in eastern Europe and will witness the wholesale murders that befell many.
De Zayas proves that victims know no nationality. I recommend this book for all interested in World War II and the immediate aftermath.
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Format: Paperback
Alfred-Maurice De Zayas' book recounts the events that unfolded during the first few-months of 1945 in Germany's historic eastern provinces. This tragedy, that was the extermination of an 800-year old civilization in Eastern Europe, is regrettably an event that still remains an unknown, even in modern western intellectual circles. De Zayas' book decribes the harrowing tale that the 13 million eastern Germans faced: the largest ethnic-cleansing of human beings, the largest maritime evacuation of civilians, and the most horrific naval disasters in history. The book is a monument to the great cruelty and depravity that mankind is capable of, and the little dignity that even moral powers can have for their victims. It is a dedication to the millions that suffered because of their ethnic origin and to the 2.5 million Germans that vanished. Today, the survivors and relatives of these expellees acount for 1/5 of the German population. This book will be intstrumental in understanding the future evolution of Polish-German and Czech-German affairs. A DEFINITE BUY! A+
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Format: Paperback
Among the most horrific of acts following the carnage of World War Two in Europe was the so-called revenge events against civilian Germans in the eastern-most provinces of what had been Germany until the end of the war and retracing of national boundaries pursuit with treaty agreements that had been reached. Much of the indigenous German population within what is now western Poland was subjected to unspeakable acts of violence, retribution, and forced resettlement, much as the German and Polish Jews had been under the repressive hands of the Third Reich during the war. This well-researched and superbly written book focuses on the ways in which this set of events triggered a genocidal wave of reaction against ethnic Germans unfortunate enough to be living in the areas suddenly no longer part of Germany proper.

This is not to either suggest any legal rationale for the genocide which ensued, but to admit the pent-up grievances and immense frustration of other ethnic groups toward Germany in particular, and to any ethnic Germans in general, such that they became the victims of an incredible amount of focused antipathy and homicidal rage after the war. One of the most fascinating aspects of this book is the way in which the author animates the events with first-person anecdotes, which serve to graphically demonstrate what the edicts and events meant in human terms to those individuals caught in the cross hairs of place and circumstance, victims ineluctably on the wrong side of history.
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7 Comments 64 of 71 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
In his narration, de Zayas appears to have a threefold objective: (1) to describe where all the Volksdeutsche (European Germans living outside of Germany) had settled; (2) how they were mistreated by advancing armies and hostile civilians; and (3) postwar reconciliation of the German displaced persons situation in general. De Zayas description of where the Volksdeutsche were located before World War I and II is interesting and enlightening from a historical perspective. With regard to how the Volksdeutsche were treated, the majority of the book is dedicated to accounts of terror and brutality that the Volksdeutsche received from the advancing Russian military as well as from the citizens of the countries that they had occupied outside of Germany proper. The last section of the book, regarding reconciliation, is well done. I was somewhat disappointed with the book since I had expected a broader view especially with regard to the D.P. (displaced persons) camps, but on reconsideration, since de Zayas is writing on the "ethnic cleaning" of these Volksdeutsche, he has met his goal with his more narrow view. Overall: a good account of the harsh treatment the Volksdeutsche received as World War II came to a close.
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Format: Paperback
The book presents evidence of the explusion from territories their families had inhabited for centuries. The author does not gloss over nor excuses the crimes planned and executed by the Nazi government during WW2, and I found this to be very reassuring. After reading the book, I went and did more research, and found that there were other authors also writing books that present some of the facts that are contained in Mr. De Zayas' research (for example, John Sachs' book on Polish concentration camps for Germans). I even found books at Rutgers University library (from the 1950's)that detailed the Allied plans to resettle millions of expelled Germans from Poland and the (current) Czech republic within the four occupation zones of postwar Germany -- these details were negotiated by the victorius western powers and the Soviet Union.
I applaud this and other efforts to inform the public of the truth, regardless of ideology. It is a reminder that, after all, the blood we all spill is exactly the same shade of red ...
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