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Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War Hardcover – June 26, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Orderly and Humane is an outstanding and well-written work that fills a significant gap in books written in English about this large subject and the very period of its compass. It ought to be in every serious American library and should be required reading for scholars interested in the history of the end of the Second World War and the years thereafter in Europe.”—John Lukacs, author of The Future of  History and Five Days in London, May 1940
(John Lukacs)

“R.M. Douglas has written a fair-minded, deeply researched and courageous book that carefully demystifies the claims and accusations surrounding the awful history of the expulsion of the ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe. A first-rate work, Orderly and Humane compels us to admit that the postwar expulsions were not simply a regrettable accident but a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing on a breathtaking scale that decisively shaped postwar Europe’s history.”—William I. Hitchcock, author of The Bitter Road to Freedom: The Human Consequences of Allied Victory in World War II Europe
(William I. Hitchcock)

“The tragedy of the post-World War II ethnic German refugees and expellees has been told before but no account is based on so many original documents from so many countries as Douglas’s eminently readable work.”—Istvan Deak, Columbia University (Istvan Deak)

“This important, powerful, and moving book should be on the desk of every international policymaker as well as every historian of twentieth-century Europe. Characterized by assured scholarship, cool objectivity, and convincing detail, it is also a passionate plea for tolerance and fairness in a multicultural world.”—Richard J. Evans, The New Republic
(Richard J. Evans The New Republic)

"This is an important book, deserving of the widest readership."—Max Hastings, Sunday Times
(Max Hastings Sunday Times 2012-08-05)

“R.M. Douglas has written a serious book that deserves the serious commitment it takes to read it."—John B. Saul, The Seattle Times
(John B. Saul The Seattle Times 2002-07-29)

“[T]he most thorough study available of the largest expulsion of a people in human history . . . [a] scrupulous reconstruction . . . authoritative;”—Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic
(Benjamin Schwarz The Atlantic 2012-09-01)

“Doug­las, a historian at Colgate, offers the most thorough study available of the largest expulsion of a people in human history and by far the most horrific instance in post-war Europe of what is now called ethnic cleansing: the forcible transfer of at least 12 million ethnic Germans, mostly women and children from Eastern and Central Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War. The result is an authoritative analysis of an episode that, contrary to McCormick's prediction, has utterly failed to penetrate the popular historical memory..” —Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic, Named one of the Books of the Year 2012
(Benjamin Schwarz The Atlantic 2012-11-01)

Runner-up in the General Non-Fiction category at the 2013 Great Southeast Book Festival.
(Great Southeast Festival JM Northern Media LLC 2013-03-13)

Winner of the 2013 George Louis Beer Prize given by the American Historical Association.
(George Louis Beer Prize American Historical Association 2013-11-04)

Won an honorable mention for the 2012 Association of American Publishers PROSE Awards in the European & World History Category.
(PROSE Association of American Publishers 2013-11-04)

About the Author

R. M. Douglas is associate professor of history, Colgate University. He lives in Hamilton, NY.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300166605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300166606
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,032,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Douglas has written a very informative book on a subject that is too often neglected by historians of Europe. This subject is the expulsion of fourteen million ethnic Germans from mainly Poland and Czechoslovakia, but also from other East European countries like Yugoslavia after World War II. The expellees were expelled to the remaining parts of Germany that had been heavily damaged after the war and had huge problems in feeding and housing their populations. In the case of Poland most of the persons expelled came from land originally German that was transferred to Poland in the Yalta and Potsdam settlements during and after World War II. These expellees in particular can say we did not cross the border but the border crossed us. Similarly in Czechoslovakia long time German residents in the Sudeten mountains were transferred after World War I against their will to Czechoslovak sovereignty.

The treatment of the German expellees was horrendous. The expellees were first decreed to have lost their nationality and civil rights. They were viciously discriminated against in food rations and almost every other social economic area. They were often placed in camps that provided little food, starvation rations, inadequate or no medical care and housed in overcrowded rooms on straw or no bedding. Starvation and disease took a tremendous toll of human life. After weeks of months or years as slave labor in the camps the would be expellees were packed onto freight cars for a long ride to Germany that could last for weeks. During this time expellees continued to suffer to disease and starvation that caused many deaths. When arriving in Germany their weakened condition in a devastated land caused more deaths. One of the more accurate estimates of the number of expellee deaths is 2.
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Format: Hardcover
R M Douglas' book "Orderly and humane" is an important contribution to the topic of the German expellees after world war two and might as well be the most comprehensive book on the topic in English. These explusions affected 12 to 15 million Germans or people of German heritage, estimates of deaths range from 500,000 to 2 millions. The people expelled were on the one hand German and Hungarian minorities in Eastern Europe, but in most part it was Germans from then proper Germany who were the majority population in areas such as East Prussia, Pomerania and Lower Silesia, all of which were annexed by other countries after the war. For all the expelees their homelands for 700 years were lost forever. Mostly civilians were affected by these expulsions, which the English writer George Orwell had the courage to call a massive crime. One topic concerning German expellees during WW2 and after is however missed out on in this book, maybe due to its early occurrence: It is the forced deportation of about 1 million Volga Germans and other Russian Germans who already in 1941 at the beginning of the war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were shipped off to Siberia and Kazakhstan, placed into labor camps where many starved to death, and who were only half heartedly rehabilitated. Far from being a simple evacuation, they lost their belongings and homelands forever, and their fate has never been seriously addressed.
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Format: Paperback
R.M. Douglas has written a substantial book on a topic that is little known in post-World War II history, the expulsion of Germans from Eastern Europe. What makes this book different from previous works on this subject is that the author uses material from various archives across Europe instead of testimony from expellees alone. As the war wound down, many ethic groups in the east were in mood of exacting revenge for the mistreatment that they received at the hands of the Nazis between 1939 and 1945. Since many of the German men were either dead, in prison camps or missing, the expulsions fell mainly on the women, children and elderly who were unable to serve in the military.

Men like Eduard Benes of Czechoslovakia were keen on getting rid of the Germans as he and his fellow countrymen believed that their presence in the Sudetenland portion of the country posed a threat to their nationalistic desires. The Poles were stripped of their lands east of the River Bug by the Soviets and as compensation were given German lands east of the Oder River. The resulting expulsions from the Sudetenland and the Polish "recovered territories" along with the force evictions by the Yugoslavs and the Romanians led to the deaths of at least 500,000 Germans. Little is said about this event because many at that time believed that the Germans "deserved it" and that it was overshadowed by the vastly higher numbers of dead that were a result of German atrocities. Nonetheless, this tragedy was the responsibility of the Allied forces who wanted to eliminate ethnic friction after the war, but in the end committed what we call today ethnic cleansing.
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Format: Hardcover
R.M. Douglas's expose of Allied complicity in Crimes Against Humanity at the end of World War II is so well written that it reads like a stunning novel. Very few Americans or Europeans know about the forcible removable of millions of innocent people, mostly women ,children and the elderly, from their homes for transfer to German soil only because they had German names, ancestors or spoke the language. Their property was confiscated without redress and millions were dumped inside Germany without provision for jobs, housing or basic necessities. Many died during the ordeal. Such was the hatred at the end of the war, not just for Nazis but for all with German names, that this scheme of "ethnic cleansing" was planned and accomplished with the administrative support of the Allied governments. Douglas demystifies the personality of Edvard Benes, President of Czehoslovakia, who lobbied successfully for a homogenous homeland free of all minorities. Such was the Czech hatred for Czechs of German ancestry that they treated them to the same persecutions the Nazis had visited on the Czechs. No one was spared including Jews who had survived the camps. Alice Herz-Sommer, a Czech concert pianist and ethnic German who had been imprisoned for two years In Theresienstadt concentration camp and whose mother and husband had perished in the Nazi death machine, returned to Prague to find German Jews were unwelcome. After her close friend a journalist, Michael Mares, published protest articles against the Czech treatment of anti-Nazi ethnic Germans, he was rewarded with a long prison sentence and Alice fled her homeland to resettle in Israel. Today at 108 years of age and a witness to all of the wars of the 2oth and 21st centuries, Alice repeatedly cautions "hatred only leads to hatred.Read more ›
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