Charter of Germans Expelled from Their Homelands (Stuttgart, West Germany, 5 August 1950)

Revised translation by Eric J. Schmaltz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History, Department of Social Sciences, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Alva, Oklahoma.

The original German source: “Charta der deutschen Heimatvertriebenen,” in F. Dörr and W. Kerl, Ostdeutschland und die deutschen Siedlungsgebiete in Ost- und Südosteuropa: in Karte, Bild und Wort (Munich: Südwest Verlag, 1991), p. 64.

The English translation first appeared in Eric J. Schmaltz, An Expanded Bibliography and Reference Guide for the Former Soviet Union’s Ethnic Germans: Issues of Ethnic Autonomy, Group Repression, Cultural Assimilation, and Mass Emigration in the Twentieth Century and Beyond (Fargo, ND: Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries, 2003), pp. 207-208.

In the awareness of responsibility before God and all humanity, in the awareness of their membership in the Christian-Occidental cultural realm [the Western world], in the awareness of their German nationality and in the knowledge of the common tasks of all European nations:

The elected representatives of millions expelled from their homelands have decided, after an examination of their consciences, to deliver an explanation to the German nation and the world that determines the duties and rights, which the Germans expelled from their homelands view as their fundamental law and as the indispensable prerequisite for the fulfillment of a free and united Europe.

1. We persons expelled from our homelands renounce revenge and retaliation. For us, this decision is earnest and sacred in consideration of the endless suffering, which especially in the last decade has been brought to bear on humanity.

2. We will support with all our strength each and every initiative directed to the creation of a united Europe, in which people can live without fear and coercion.

3. We will participate through hard, untiring labor for the rebuilding of Germany and Europe. We have lost our homelands. The homeless are strangers on this earth. God has placed people in their homelands. To sever an individual from one’s homeland is to kill one in spirit. We have suffered and survived this fate. Therefore we feel ourselves called upon to demand that the right to a homeland be acknowledged and realized as a fundamental right of humanity bestowed by God. As long as this right is not realized for us, we do not want to stand aside condemned to inactivity, but rather to create and bring about in new, ennobled forms an appreciative and fraternal life in common with all members of our people. Therefore we request and demand today as we did yesterday:

a) Equal rights as state citizens, not only before the law, but also in everyday reality;

b) A just and meaningful distribution of burdens of the last war [World War II] on the entire German nation and a fair enforcement of this fundamental principle;

c) A meaningful installment of all vocational groups of persons expelled from their homelands into the life of the German nation;

d) An active installment of Germans expelled from their homelands into the rebuilding of Europe. The nations of the world should feel joint responsibility for the fate of Germans expelled from their homelands as those afflicted by the suffering of this time.

Nations should proceed as it is suited to their Christian duties and their conscience.

Nations must recognize that the fate of Germans expelled from their homelands, like all refugees, is a global problem, whose solution demands the highest ethical responsibility and commitment to great achievement.

We call on all nations and people of goodwill to lend a hand in order that, out of guilt, calamity, poverty and misery, all roads to a better life are found for us.

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