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Germans in Eastern Europe since 1918: History & Memory - HIS00120M

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Hugo Service
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

Before the Second World War millions of ethnic Germans lived outside Germany across Eastern Europe. Many
were former residents of the German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which both collapsed at the end
of the First World War. But many hundreds of thousands lived beyond those territories. What happened to them
all? Why are there no longer millions living in Eastern Europe today? This module will delve deeply into that

Using a range of primary source materials and scholarship, students will study the fate of these people since 1918
in depth. They will grapple with the role these minorities played in relations between Germany and Eastern
European states before, during and after the Second World War. They will examine the participation of ethnic
German minorities in Nazi Germany’s fighting, atrocities and genocide during the war. They will study the
uprooting of most ethnic Germans during and immediately after the war, as well as the integration of these
people in a postwar Germany divided between two states after the 1940s. They will also study how remaining
members of these populations got to grips with life in Eastern European countries during the decades since the
war, including how they responded to pressures to assimilate. Students will then probe into how the fate of
ethnic Germans in Eastern Europe before 1950 has been perceived, remembered and manipulated in Germany
and Eastern Europe since then, through to the present, including the struggles and conflicts this has involved.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • Develop skills of source analysis and interpretation;
  • Assess a range of source material and relevant secondary works; and
  • Develop students’ powers of evidence-based historical argument, both orally and in writing.

Module learning outcomes

After completing this module students should have:
a) Acquired an advanced understanding of a topic of contemporary European history
b) Developed advanced skills in critical evaluation and in interpreting information and ideas drawn from
primary sources and scholarship
c) Enhanced their capacity to express sophisticated ideas and arguments in writing and orally
d) Increased their ability to undertake independent research
e) Reflected critically on concepts such as ethnicity, nation, race and memory.
f) Thought deeply about how societies come to terms with and make use of the past, and about the
historian’s role and responsibility in this

Module content

Teaching Programme:

Students will attend eight weekly two-hour seminars in weeks 2-9.
The provisional outline for the module is as follows:
1. German minorities in Eastern Europe after WWI
2. The German minorities and the path to war
3. Volksdeutsche, ethnic cleansing and genocide during WWII
4. The flight, deportation and expulsion of German populations 1944-49
5. German minorities in postwar Eastern Europe
6. German refugees and expellees in the postwar Germanys
7. Divided memories of Germans in Eastern Europe and their uprooting before 1989
8. Memory wars since 1989


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 4000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will complete a 2,000-word procedural essay for formative assessment, due in week 6 of the autumn term. They will then submit a 4,000-word assessed essay for summative assessment in week 2 of the spring term.

For further details about assessed work, students should refer to the Taught Masters Degrees Statement of Assessment.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 4000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will receive written feedback consisting of comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their procedural work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

R. M. Douglas, Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of Germans after the Second Word War. New Haven: Yale
University Press, 2012.

Robert G. Moeller, War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany. Berkeley and Los
Angeles: University of California Press, 2001.

Jürgen Tampke, Czech-German Relations and the Politics of Central Europe: From Bohemia to the EU. Basingstoke:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Tara Zahra, Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900-1948.
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.