"Bund der Vertriebenen" (The Federation of Expellees) and the Nazi Legacy

Abgeschlossenes Projekt

Employees (IfZ):  Prof. Dr. Michael Schwartz

This project investigated the Nazi-era activities of the thirteen members of the first presidium of the Federation of Expellees (Bund der Vertriebenen, BdV), after its founding in 1958. Michael Schwartz, in collaboration with Michael Buddrus, Martin Holler, and Alexander Post, illustrated the biographies of the BdV presidium members, based on extensive archive research in Germany and Eastern Europe. The study looked into the biographies of Hans Krüger, the first president of the BdV, the four vice presidents, Hellmut Gossing, Wenzel Jaksch , Dr. Karl Mocker, and Erich Schellhaus, and the other presidium members, Dr. Alfred Gille , Dr. Linus Kather, Dr. Dr. Heinz Langguth, Dr. Rudolf Lodgman von Auen, Reinhold Rehs, Dr. Josef Trischler, Dr. h.c. Otto Ulitz, and Rudolf Wollner.

As the study was able to show, two thirds of the thirteen founding presidium members had in fact had

pasts as members of the Nazi Party or the SS. Only two of the thirteen, Linus Kather, who was Catholic, and the Social Democrat Wenzel Jaksch, had clearly distanced themselves from and consistently opposed the Nazi regime. This percentage of former Nazi Party members was clearly well above average when compared with the average population, of whom only around ten percent had been party members by the end of the war. While none of the BdV presidium members had joined the Nazi Party before Hitler role to power in 1933, the representatives of the middle and younger generations, who would become prominent figures in efforts on behalf of the expellees in the 1950s, had shown a basic loyalty to and affinity with the Nazis during the “Third Reich”. Especially after the German invasion of Poland, several of them are shown in the sources to have become increasingly active participants in the Nazi exertion of power. This included both deployments in fighting, for example, against partisans (Schellhaus, Gossing, Wollner), or leading positions in the administration of the occupied territories (Gille, Langguth, Ulitz).

These men were, nevertheless, still able to hold higher offices as functionaries in post-war Germany, thus providing an example for the problematic continuity among the elite into the early years of the Federal Republic. With this study, the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History provided an important contribution to the current debate on how federal agencies, associations, and organizations should come to terms with their Nazi pasts. The report, nearly 600 pages in length, was proposed by the BdV itself, following media reports on the Nazi pasts of leading expellee representatives. The study was also supported by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The manuscript, approved by the Academic Advisory Board, was prepared for publication in 2012 and appeared as a monograph with the title Funktionäre mit Vergangenheit (“Functionaries with a Past”) in November 2012.


Publications within the project

Michael Schwartz

Funktionäre mit Vergangenheit.

München 2013


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