History of Baden-Württemberg

Displaced persons

The deprivations of the native population were bad enough, but were nothing to compare with the grave fate of the displaced persons who from 1945 on streamed into our country. Most of the displaced were transported into the country on freight trains. They came for the most part from Silesia, from Hungary and from Czechoslovakia (Bohemia and Moravia). From Bohemia and Moravia, 62 trains came to North Baden alone, 82 to North Württemberg.

One disconcerted person related how a train was going along the stretch from Karlsruhe to Pforzheim: at each station, a car was decoupled. The occupants and their luggage, sometimes 70 kilograms or less, were brought to that community to be taken care of. Now many many natives, who in the countryside or in only lightly damaged cities at the beginning had hardly noticed war so far, suddenly were sharing their house or apartment with a family of displaced persons. Other displaced persons lived for years in camps.

No one could imagine that after a few years most of the displaced persons from the East and later the refugees from Middle Germany would establish themselves so well in their new homeland. Without the labor and occupational skills of the displaced and the refugees, reconstruction and redevelopment of the country after the was would not have been possible to the extent that it happened after 1948. It is not unusual to find both natives and displaced persons living in better circumstances today than before World War II.

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© 10/2000 by Mike Pantel