Breslau

Probably if you've been in town long enough you've heard the name Breslau mentioned and wondered what the hell he, she or it is…? Ask any Germans however and they will be less puzzled, as Breslau was, until quite recently, one of the foremost cities in Prussia, the powerful Germanic state that bossed Europe until the end of the Second World War. And whereas today the majority of Europeans are happy to use the Polish name of Wroclaw, there are many west of the German-Polish border who still refer to this Silesian town by the pre-war title of Breslau.

Perhaps this is unsurprising if you consider that, whereas Wroclaw was governed first by the Polish Piast kings in the 10th century, from the 13th century onwards the city was populated predominantly by Germans. It was German settlers at this time that helped to rebuild the city after it had been sacked by the Mongols and to turn it into a thriving commercial centre. In the centuries that followed Wroclaw prospered under both the Bohemians and the Austrians, before, in 1741, Frederick the Great II took hold of the city and officially changed the its name to Breslau (the Germanic name however had been in use long before that). The next 200 years saw the city increasingly Germanised, although it was only in the years directly following the Nazis seizure of power in 1933 that this was done with aggressive intent. By 1938 the entire Polish community had been forced out of the city, along with two thirds of the Jews.

The city gained a new and bloody chapter in its turbulent history during the events of World War II, when Breslau became the last stronghold of the Third Reich in the struggle against the Soviet forces. Dubbed 'Festung Breslau' ('Breslau Fortress') by Hitler it was the scene of a brutal siege lasting 14 weeks and that cost the lives of 170,000 civilians, 6,000 German troops and 7,000 Russian troops. Finally the city capitulated (the last to do so, four days after Berlin) on May 6th 1945 in a state of absolute ruin. An estimated 70% of the city was destroyed. Those German civilians that hadn't been killed or evacuated were left at the mercy of the Red Army, for whom 'liberating' the city went hand-in-hand with drunken marauding, rape and pillage.

In the aftermath of the World War II, Stalin (who held the trump cards in the post-war negotiations) effectively shifted the whole of Poland west so as to include formerly Polish cities like Wilno (now Vilnius) and Lwow into the Soviet Union - granting Poland formerly German cities like Breslau as means of recompense. As a result the remainder of the German population of Breslau was evicted and forced to relocate within Germany's newly drawn frontiers. In their place arrived thousands of Poles from what is now the Ukrainian town of Lviv (which was previously the Polish town of Lwow). Naturally Breslau was given back its Polish name, Wroclaw.

Confused? Well so were the new settlers. Forcibly uprooted from their own town of Lwow, the shell-shocked Poles found themselves in a ruined German city, that they were now being told to call home sweet home. No wonder they didn't take to it straight away - not only did the German signs, road names, monuments and inscriptions evoke painful memories of their times under Nazi occupation, but the private possessions left behind in the houses were a constant reminder of the fact that they were living in a city that had been 'stolen' from another people.

In the years that followed Wroclaw underwent major surgery - both physical and mental. Great effort was made to propagate the myth of Wroclaw as a Polish city that has at last been returned from the hands of the dastardly Nazis to its rightful owners (a far from complete picture of the town's mixed heritage and colourful history). Much money was invested too, firstly in 'de-Germanising' the city with the removal of all German writings and inscriptions, and secondly in the restoration of the splendid 13th century buildings destroyed in the war, so that the bruised and battered city could hold its head high once more and embrace the future as a beautifully-restored Polish town.

However, underneath today's smiling and dynamic city lurk the shadows of history's wrongs. Questions raised about the unfair treatment of German civilians by the Polish after the war have undermined the moral high ground that many Poles like to take about their role in history and their perception of themselves as perpetual victims of foreign aggression. Perhaps that is why these days the Wroclawians genially welcome back the Germans as tourists looking to trace their former homes or those of their forefathers. They keep their consciences clean with the argument that whereas wrongs were done to many innocent Germans, much worse was done by the Germans to the Poles; and they remind themselves that they too were forcibly and unwillingly uprooted from their homes in Lwow, and by this reasoning they hope both to find empathy from their evicted counterparts, and more importantly to justify their abduction of the city. This last idea is something of a romanticised truth however - part of the Polish government's post-war propaganda was designed to assuage Polish guilt about the tenure of their new property. Only about 20% of the post-war population of Wroclaw arrived from Lwow and the surrounding area of the Kresy, with many more settlers in fact coming from Warsaw and Poznan.

Despite all the complications of its contentious past, or perhaps because of them, Wroclaw is a relaxed and forward-looking city that is keen to brush the cobwebs of history under the carpet. And let's face it, no one is keener to join them than the Germans, who more than any nation would like to encourage a 'forgive and forget' policy towards the events of the 20th century. This mutual acceptance of guilt serves the city of Wroclaw well. The Poles don't bring up the Germans' atrocities during the War, and in return the Germans don't ask for their city back. But whereas both parties would openly agree that they must be prepared to move on, the reality is less clearly defined. The fact is that you can forgive, but you can never forget - which is why Wroclaw today is full of German tourists hoping to find some small trace of the Breslau that they left behind.

If you are one of our German readers then you may find the following link useful for tracing Breslau's and her peoples' history: www.Breslau-Wroclaw.de

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Jeannie from United States Reply Jun 17th, 2014

I found the article interesting and sad. My great grandmother, Rosalie Linke Dohrman was born in Breaslau in March of 1861, according to her death certificate and some other family records. I do not know anything about her before she married Fritz Wilhelm Dohrmann in October 1885 (I don't know where they married even). Within a month of their marriage, they emigrated to the US and settled in Concordia, Missouri, USA. Sadly Rosalie had 7 children, but only my grandfather, Adolph Heinrich Claus Dohrmann, lived long enouogh to marry and have children. Rosalie's husband and 6 children were all dead before 1925, leaving her and my grandfather. Rosalie never learned english and was blind when she died in 1950. Her belongings have long since disappeared and there are no records beyond a few pictures and letters written after 1918 and 1945. I want so very much to find out about Rosalie's heritage. There are a few pieces of mail written to her after WWI and WWII from her sister's children. However, I cannot seem to trace any of them. I do know who her parents were and I do not know where she and her husband Fritz were married. Fritz was from Hannover and was a Lutheran, but I suspect Rosalie may not have been born Lutheran, though her children were baptized Lutheran in Missouri, USA. How can I find out more about Rosalie Linke who was born in Breslau in 1861 long before either World War?

Heidi from United States Reply May 6th, 2014

I found this article so interesting as my mother was born is Breslau in 1919. She passed 4 years ago. She and her mother, like many, fled when the Russians invaded. Her 3 brothers all died in the war. I would like to know if there is any information on her family: Martha Schwarzer (my grandmother) Irene Schwarzer (my mother) Hans Schwazer (one of my mothers brothers) Karl Schmidt (my mother grandfather) Any information at all would be so wonderful as my mother and father are both gone and there is not much information to great any kind of a family tree to pass down to my children

deborag from United States Reply Apr 5th, 2014

Im yrying to findd people from breslau that lived there before the war or stayed after my mother inge kozlowski lived there with her familie her father herbert kozlowski was the local taylor please anyone from here contact me on facebook my name is deborah brock

George Cavanagh from United Kingdom Reply Mar 9th, 2014

I've just discovered that my maternal grand mother, Frau Marianna Gawronska, was from Breslau. A 1944 copy of my mother's birth certificate who was born in Dezember 1920 names her and the former German town and throws up some interesting details about my mother's past. I never knew Wroclaw once belonged to Germany.

Barbara G Smith from Germany Reply Aug 6th, 2013

I was born in Breslau Germany came to the USA in 1957 from Esslingen Germany! I find this Article very interesting sense I was very young when we had to leave Breslau! It would be very nice if someone could tell me where I could find a Map of Breslau that would have the Names in German on there, sense I am planing after so many Years to visit Breslau again!

Helen Weigel from Philippines Reply Jun 9th, 2013

My father was born and raised from Breslau and his name is Ersnt Wiegel . He came to the U.S at a very young age , having his name listed in Ellis Island , he enlisted in the navy , retired and went to southeast asia as an engineer.He fisrt got married to a wonderful japanese lady , who told my mother who is her friend to marry her husband once she will be gone .She died of cervical cancer. My father was 40 and my mother was 20 years old .When he became naturalized as a filipino he changed the spelling of his last name from Wiegel to Weigel but i don not know the reason behind it .When I was small my father always reminissed his parents and other members of his family and the farms that they own in Breslau and how beautiful the country was . He was about to bring my mother, brother and me to visit , having been tutored in speaking german to visit his home town but World War 11 happen. All of us have bounty in our heads when the japanese will capture us . My only regret is that I have not meet my relatives and seeing the place where my father was born. My dad passed away suddenly after the liberation party with all his american friends we have in our house . At 82 years of age , I wll just dream of how Bresalu would have look before the war.

Trent from Canada Reply Apr 13th, 2013

Pretty sure that after the war, much of Wroclaw was dismantled and by the Poles as they needed the bricks to rebuild their capital in Warsaw. Beautiful German mansions were taken down brick by brick for fear that eventually, the city would be taken back by the Germans (which almost happened had the Americans not stepped in). The idea was, if they're only going to have it for a while, let's get something out of it, at least. It's a beautiful city. The best pubs are under the railroad tracks and the best restaurant was Oregano. I wish there was more about the underground city, though. That is something that would be very interesting to know

Reinhold from France Reply Feb 12th, 2013

mon papa est né à Rausse, en banlieue nord de Breslau en 1925. Mes grands parents habitaient le long de l'Oder. Ma grand mère m'a expliqué les faits de guerre qui se sont déroulés dans cette région. Aujourd'hui, je voudrai retourner à Breslau et Rausse en mémoire de mes grands parents et de mon père.

Jim from United States Reply Feb 11th, 2013

Very good article> Is there some where I might find the history of Kainowe and Schlottau?

MAR from Norway Reply Feb 2nd, 2013

A 1000 years of German culture can’t be wiped off the map. No 1000 yeras, please read history again - is much more complicate - was Polish Czech Habsburgs Prus Greman and Polish again.

Mike Toepel from United States Reply Jan 9th, 2013

Thank you for this concise article. I was born there in Sept 1944 months before the evacuation of women and children as the Russians pressed thru moving the German army West.

HW von HAHN from United States Reply Dec 19th, 2012

My grandparents as well parents were born and raised in Breslau. They remained in Breslau until “Festung Breslau” was about to fall to the Russians. They then left Breslau with thousands of other Fluechtlinge, before the Russians entered the city. With a pack on their back, the only belongings they were able to take, they proceeded to the West, staying in many refugee camps on their trek. Our homes in Breslau as well as our farm in Weide-West outside of Breslau) were lost to the Russians and then the Poles. 1990 my mother visited for the first time Breslau again. She found our homes as well as our farm, all occupied by Poles. Some of the Poles who were residing in our homes were friendly and allowed my mother to enter their (our) homes, while other expressed a real hatred towards her and told her to leave their property. She found the church in which her parents were married as well as the graves of some of our relatives. Even the grave stones had anything in German removed. Young Poles were being taught that Breslau had always been polish property and the Germans merely occupied the region for over 1000 years. My parents were very active in Fluechtlings Vereinen, hoping that one day they would be able to re-acquire their property in Breslau and Schlesien, but realized that this would mean displacing again all the Poles who had been moved into our properties. They rejected that idea and accepted the fact that Breslau and Schlesien is forever lost. For years we remained active in Fluechtlings Vereinen in Germany as well as in New York City which had a Schlesier Verein. Subsequently we visited Schlesien and Breslau almost on an annual basis and got in contact with the German society in Breslau which is helping the Germans who remained in Breslau and Schlesien. We have shipped countless packages of clothing and German books to Schlesien. Until the border was open we smuggled German books into Poland. Breslau has now again a small German library with German books. The German government purchased a house in Breslau where there is an exchange in cultural items with the Poles. Slowly it is becoming acceptable again to mention in polish circles that one was raise in Breslau. Over 9 million Germans were ethnically cleansed from their homes. No one is suggesting that Schlesien should be forcefully made German again, but each time I listen to the Schlesier Lied, I have tears in my eyes. A 1000 years of German culture can’t be wiped off the map.

Rheinhardt from United States Reply Nov 16th, 2012

A very good article.The new generation of Poles seems to be more realistic concerning the history of Breslau. There is still a substantial German minority in Silesia and Poland has been very gracious about allowing their culture to remain intact. The events after the war were atrocious and typical of European hypernationalism of the last 200 years. History is always written by the victors and lest it be forgotten the German invasion of Poland in 1939 was only after numerous attempts to rectify the borders drawn after WWI with numerous appeals from the German governments to the League of Nations during the inter war years. Millions of Germans found themselves in Poland after West Prussia (Polish corridor) was ceded to Poland. Germans were regularly harassed and "encouraged" to leave. The Poles are not the innocent victims the communists in Cold War Warszawa ( as hard to pronounce as Wroclaw, hence the English Warsaw, Ger. Warschau) liked to portray themselves. It is high time to admit that the French and British caused the conditions for the Second World War with their economic motives to eliminate Germany as an economic competitor. No high moral grounds here. Had Wilson's direction been followed, the war would have been avoided. Once again the German territory ceded to Poland, Russia and Lithuania were motivated by greed not justice. Please note that the expulsion of Germans from Silesia, Pomerania, East Prussia, Sudetenland and Memeland were the largest ethnic cleansing ever. The details of the murder of women, children and elderly (all able body men were fighting the Red Army) were a shameless act of cowardice. Yes, the atrocities of the Nazi's were unspeakable, but those committed by the Soviet Union, a UK and US ally, starting in 1917, are estimated to have claimed at least 20 million and as high as 70 million. Hopefully, Germans will be allowed to buy back farms and houses that their ancestors lost just as Germany allows Poles to buy land in Germany.

Ruth from United Kingdom Reply Nov 4th, 2012

THANK-YOU so much for the information on this website. I am a historian interested in Ferdinand Cohn, and seeking to know if anyone has any knowledge of what happened to his papers. Of course I recognize that with all the destruction of the city it is unlikely that should have survived.

sandy from United States Reply Nov 4th, 2012

This is an interesting read. My grandfather was born in Breslau, Albert Thiel G 1889. After he was married to Amanda Gecke or Geike, he lived in Fraustadt. Amanda Thiel had to leave after the WWII, and tells the story of walking with her suitcase for days, and sleeping in barns over night, until she was picked up by the Red Cross. My grandfather was released from a Polish POW camp and made his way home to Fraustadt to find Polish people living in their apartment. I would like to find out about my great grandparents, but am having trouble finding records.

Stephen McKenzie from Australia Reply Sep 11th, 2012

Thanks. my grandfather Hermann Alfred Moses was born here in 1888.

Peter Laws from United Kingdom Reply Jul 18th, 2012

Very interesting. My mother was born in Breslau in 1926, she and her 3 sisters left there as the Russian entered the town, They headed west and ended up in a Displaced Persons camp in Minden. However she left her parents and any other family in Breslau. Where would I find out what happened to the rest of the family.

Ed Stultz from United States Reply Jul 16th, 2012

Interesting article. To those complaining about how the Germans were treated - yes, they were treated badly. But whose fault was that? You can't expect much when you murder 40 million other people. Germans got off lucky considering what that country did.

Bill Lindborg from United States Reply Jul 4th, 2012

Hello, My 2nd Great Grandfather Ignatz Goeldner 1805-1550 and wife Maria Elizabeth (Zekel) Goeldner 1805-1881 were born in Breslau. Four Chrildren Julius G. 1824b, Carl Innatz G. 1829b, Veronica G. 1834b and Joseph G. 1844b. It was thought that Joseph may have be a Catholic Priest? I will be visiting Breslau in around July 21st 2012. Would like to find out more about the Goeldner family. Any recommendations would be great. Best regards!

Karen from United States Reply Jun 6th, 2012

I think this is a fair review of Wroclaw/Breslau Poland/Silesia. My family left there in Aug 1850. I would like to find if there are chruch or town records for this family. I have the dates of birth for the three children they brought with them but I have no idea of my ggrandmother's maiden name or any other information. The fact they were from (then) Breslau) is noted in the passsenger list from Bremen arriving in New York and on one death certificate I've found for the family. I'd like to find out if there was family still there until 1945 or if there was family that also immigrated. I fell certain there were given I find them among some of the same name- but no relationshp and not particularly close proximity in Buffalo NY in 1860, but he's dead sometime between 1860 and 1870 and she remarried. I've yet to find her but did finally find the second husband in Boston MA in 1900. None of that matters. I'd like to know their history in Breslaw/Wroclaw. He gave hi s occupation as watch maker coming into the US but he was an opera singer and that is how he made his living until his death. HIs grandsons continued that tradition and many were listed as professinoal musicians, including my grandfather during their life. Are there Church records or any civil records for Germans left in Wroclaw? If no, does anyone have any idea where to look for ethnic German's who lived in Wroclaw in the mid 1800's? I thought they were most likely Catholic but history says most German's living in the area were Lutheran or Evengelicshe? (my spelling isn't good. Does any one know where to find any marriage or baptism records for then Breslau now Wroclaw? Thank you in advance if you can help. I came to Berlin a few years ago but could not get anyone to go to Wroclaw with me. I would have loved to have visited despite or because of its history. War is ugly. Both sides are generally wrong. it would be nice if the world got that thought through their heads and found a better way but I have little hope. I can pray for such but reality isn't good.

Jeannie from United States Jun 17th, 2014

You wrote: "Does any one know where to find any marriage or baptism records for then Breslau now Wroclaw? Thank you in advance if you can help." Did anyone ever answer you? I am trying to trace my great grandmother who born in Breslau in March of 1861. I know very little about her. I would love to know where to write for church or historical records from mid 1800 to 1900.

Christine from United Kingdom Reply Jun 3rd, 2012

Thank you for this article, reading it was very interesting. My mother was in Breslau whilst all of these atrocities were going on, she lived there with her then husband. The Russians and the Polish came into her home and told her to get out of it, she owned that home outright with her husband, she was forced to get out with the clothes she stood in and all that she ever had or worked for was taken there and then. The house was requisitioned. She never had any compensation for this and to to this day at the age of 88 finds it hard to talk about it even now she is scared. She went back to Breslau with my dad to find her street and it didn't even exist. Why was she never compensated? this I shall never know and don't even know who to contact. I feel sorry for her and for what she saw. So your article meant all that much to me to read.

joanna payne-jones from United States Reply May 28th, 2012

thank you for the article. My great grandfathers family carl Charles Kolley came from Breslau I have a picture of his grave there. He was killed by Hitler and his paltry possessions sent to my grandmother around l932 . After reading this I realized that his entire family probably was chased out of that area. Would love to find out more hisory.

Pierre Savoie from Canada Reply Jan 19th, 2012

@Willi Krause, your analysis seems to use the loaded language of professional victimhood and civil-rights mania. I wouldn't say the U.S. stole Mexican land for example; if you actually are schooled in history, Mexico needed money, lots of money, to pay debts, and sold off a lot of what is now the Southwestern United States to do so. Except maybe for Texas: anglophone settlers did NOT learn Spanish and adopt the Catholic faith as Mexico wanted, and joined the United States instead. It is getting so bad, all this PC stuff, that I am thinking of buying a pre-1960, pre-hippie encyclopedia so some truth is preserved...

Barbara Novak from United Kingdom Reply Sep 17th, 2011

.... would like to lend support to Willi Krause's concicely argued case about the unfaireness of the frontier shift in favour of Stalin's Russia. It had horrific consequences on people and land, especially in Silesia, not just then, but to this very day. Barbara N.

Lerge from United Kingdom Reply Sep 17th, 2011

Hi Ian Williams,no Nicholas-Strasse is registered in Wroclaw/Breslau before 1945. There is a Nicholaistrasse under the following link http://www.breslau-wroclaw.de/de/breslau/geographic/street/?streetname=Nikolaistrasse -- Other than that there is a Niklasweg under the link: http://www.breslau-wroclaw.de/de/breslau/geographic/street/?streetname=Niklasweg -- Give it a try! And good luck!

Ian Williams from United Kingdom Reply Sep 9th, 2011

Where is Nicholas Strasse, Breslau?

Willi Krause from United States Reply Sep 5th, 2011

Many of you who have commented here are from USA so you know a thing or two about invading sovereign countries without so much as a declaration of war (ask an Iraqi about that)or stealing land that is not yours (ask a Mexican about that). So don't give us that holier than thou nonsense. Every country has committed murder, and USA is no exception to that.

Willi Krause from United States Reply Sep 5th, 2011

Mark and Vince are two of the most ignorant people. The Russians have always had a history of raping, plundering and murder. Did the Germans commit murder? Sure. Did the Allies commit murder when (a) the Russians invaded eastern Europe. (b) the Allies purposely bombed the ceners of German cities to murder women, children and old people and (c) after the war starve German POWs? Yes to all three. In the final analysis the Allies were no better than the Germans. They won so they write the books. Why are the Russians not held to their responsibility in stealing Polish land and taking it out of Germany to pay Poland. You want to talk murder? Stalin murdered more people on his worst day than Hitler did on his best. There's nothing worse than fooling yourselves about it but if that makes you feel good, and cements your hatred for the Germans then knock yourself out. You must be very insecure people.

marie jose loly from Belgium Reply Sep 2nd, 2011

nobody in all the comments i've read talks about a prison camp that was in Breslau, during W.W.2 or very close by. it was called STALAG 10 - In this camp my father was a prisoner for several years. He was taken prisoner in 1940 as he was a soldier in Belgium, he had a gun but no bullets, as other soldiers had bullets but no guns. belgium was not prepared for war, and its soldiers were not even properly armed. But nevertheless he was taken prisoner and after being liberated, he suffered during his whole life of the consequences of the horible treatment he received. He weighted 30 kg when he came back to Belgium, a man, 37 years old, and he looked like a scarecraw. Does anybody know about this camp in Breslau? Thank you for answering.

Heidi from United States Reply Aug 24th, 2011

Great article. Mother born in Breslau 1938. Then moved to Striegau (Strzegom). don't know how to get in touch with other reviewers.

Cindy from United States Reply Aug 17th, 2011

I am writing a novel about my mother living in Sosnowka in 1938-1939, near Jelina Gora. If anyone has any information about the area during this time, please email me. Thank you

Renate Scletze from United States Reply Jun 9th, 2011

We lived in Breslau during WWII until January 1940- 1945.(i was 4-9) It was my mothers birthplace March 1912 Gertrude Agnes Wilde then married to Hans Schletze. Would like to reconnect with anyone who lived there at the same time. Thank You

Robert St. John from United States Reply May 16th, 2011

Great information on history and places to see/stay. Would like information on WWII airman shot down on 17 april 1945 safely landing near this town. He was never heard of again and his P-51 Mustang has not been found. His name was Col Elwin Righetti flying Kattydid. Crash landed in tact and presumed killed by cilvillians. His last bearing was 270 degrese heading after straffing mission across Riesa-Canitz Airfield or Airfield north of Dresden. An intire P-51 Mustang in-tact could not disapear, unless the Russions took it a couple weeks later when they arrived. any information is appreiciated. I am retired Military and would fly there if get respounces. thank you, Robert St. John 405 Holiday Dr. Lansing Kansas 66043 Phone 913-727-1907. I can only speak English.

Morvah from United Kingdom Reply Mar 9th, 2011

The history of the name "BRESLAU" in all its variations over 700 years is recorded in Paul Hefftner's "URSPRUNG UND BEDEUTUNG DER ORTSNAMEN IM STADTKREIS BRESLAU - Breslau 1909" (www.sbc.org.pl) as follows: ""These are the names for Breslau in early GERMAN documents: 1280 "stat Wratislaw", 1295 "Wrezlaw", 1301 "Wraislaw", 1302 "Bretzla", 1314 and 1334 "stat zu Breslau", 1314 and 1357 "Brezlaw", 1324 "Bretzlav" and "Bretzlau", 1327 "stat czu Wretslaw", 1333 until 1370 on a number of occasions "Breczlaw", 1337 "Wratislauia" (Latin), 1339 "Breslou", 1348 and 1351 "Breslaw" and "cives Wraczlauiensis" (Latin), 1350 "Bresslawe" and "stat zu Presslaw". 1359, 1361, 1363, 1367 "Bresslow", 1359 "Bresslaw", 1360 "Breslow", 1367 "Brezslaw", 1371 "Bresslau" and "Bretzlaw", 1452 until 1620 repeatedly "Breßlaw", 1453 until 1800 invariably "Breßlau", 1555 and 1561 "Presslaw", 1713, 1792, 1801 and from then on exclusively "Breslau". ....Until 1945. In conversation with my Polish friends I refer to it as Wroclaw whilst they, in return, call it Breslau to please me. Thankfully, we have come a long way since 1945.

Rev Robert West from United Kingdom Reply Mar 7th, 2011

Germans have always called this town by the name of "Breslau" in modern times, and the Poles, likewise, have always, in modern times, called it "Wroclaw". It's name has only changed in English because of the change of frontiers; but if you examine Polish maps before 1945 the then German town was known to the Poles as "Wroclaw", just like today it is still known in German as "Breslau". The two versions do have a common origin, apparently.

Rev Robert West from United Kingdom Reply Mar 7th, 2011

Germans have always called this town by the name of "Breslau" in modern times, and the Poles, likewise, have always, in modern times, called it "Wroclaw". It's name has only changed in English because of the change of frontiers; but if you examine Polish maps before 1945 the then German town was known to the Poles as "Wroclaw", just like today it is still known in German as "Breslau". The two versions do have a common origin, apparently.

daniel from United States Reply Feb 28th, 2011

Racism in Germany was not started by the Nazi party,it was started by the founder of the Lutheran church when the jews did not want to convert.His ideas was used by hitler.Richard Wagner and other philosofers were the one who fueled hitler to that extent.My mother was born in breslau and her family came from there bit she has very little recolection of that place since she was only 4 when the war started and they moved her to a camp.

Sabina Tamburin from United States Reply Jan 25th, 2011

My great-grandfather was born in Poland when it was under Austrian rule so though he spoke Polish and was Polish he listed his birth place as Austria. My father-in-law whose birth certificate says he was born in Austria was Italian (Austria took it over at that time) and only spoke Italian and considered himself Italian as did all all his relatives and neighbors. During WWII his brother and other relatives were killed by American bombs. When WWII ended, my husband's family and my husband, a newborn, left the area because of the Russian takeover. They went to a refugee camp in Italy and ten years later came to America. After WWII the place he came from was called Yugoslavia. Now it is called Croatia. My husband and I visited there recently and saw where his mother and father were married, etc. They used to own a lot of land but lost it all after the war. My point is that in Europe this happened all the time. Poland used to be a huge country but was wiped off the map for 123 years when Austria, Prussia, Germany, and Russia took as much of it as they could. That is just the way it was in Europe, one day you were Polish or Italian or whatever and the next day you woke up and were another nationality. If you were lucky you did not have to leave but often you were not that lucky. Many Poles, were thrown out of the ancestral lands just as many other nationalities were. I think most Europeans have learned to forgive but I don't think they should forget simply because these things should never happen in Europe again. It still happens in many other countries, Africa, for example, so it is obviously an evil fact of life, but we should learn from history so it does not happen again. We should not be hating people we never knew who had little to do with the decisions of the higher powers who moved them from place to place or who chased them out of their lands.

KingBilly from United Kingdom Reply Jan 20th, 2011

For a long time I found no such article, and am glad such feelings on the subject are expressed. I have visited Breslau/Wroclaw a number of times and have heard the Polish justification for its resettlement. I can't quite see its moral strength, and can only put it down to the spoils of war and victors' justice. What I also find sad is the huge cultural loss. Seeing the architecture of Breslau, thinking of the former high station of such institutions as Breslau Opera, I wish Wroclaw could achieve even half of this. Until such time I can only see it all as a terrible waste. I am pleased to note that now a number of old inscriptions are being uncovered (having been crudely scrubbed out in former times), and that some of the city's German heritage is being recognised.

Erich Groebe from United States Reply Dec 30th, 2010

This article has been written with care to explain both sides of the ugly history of Breslau/Wroclaw. My grandmother was one of the thousands of refugees to flee the city with her mother and other young siblings. She was 9 years old during the exodus and was injured during the march and left paraplegic in a Czech Lazaret. I talked many times with her about her experience both during the war as well as during the DDR years. I lived with her for years in Brandenburg, Germany and came to understand and feel her pain and bitterness. We even made a trip back to her home town of Ohlau/Olava about 15 miles South of Breslau. There we met so many kind and friendly people with stories of their own. My grandmother discovered many people who also had suffered and her heart softened to know that everyone had suffered. I think she felt that everything had been stolen by cheerful victors when in fact they were victims themselves and had only inherited the ruins of Hitlers damned war. She truly saw that it was a horrific war started by Hitler in which millions died. She had been lucky enough to survive.

Mark from United States Reply Dec 19th, 2010

I'll shed no tears over anything that happened to Brelau/Wroclaw. My parents lived there before WW2 and were quite well to do, owning a factory and a separate business. The Nazis took it all away because they were Jews and not one former non-jewish friend gave a damn or tried to help them. Instead they stood and cheered for their heroes who goosestepped around like jerks. To my way of thinking, not nearly enough Nazis were killed by the Russians and the Poles likewise deserve every bit of misery because they were only slightly less murderous than the Nazis.

Roger from United Kingdom Reply Dec 1st, 2010

Interesting debates often untroubled by facts. I can recommend Davies and Moorehouse book Microcosm which looks at history of Wroclaw/Breslau/Vretislav over centuries as a microcosm of Europe.Boundaries and peoples have constantly ebbed and flowed in both peaceful and violent changes.A big book on a big topic.

roger from Switzerland Reply Nov 26th, 2010

As far as I know the name Wrocl-aw didn't exist before. The official name of the town was Wratislavia until king Fred changed it into Breslau, that originated as a bad prononciation of Wratislavia. Wroclaw was later on artificially derived by a linguist from the Slav name Wratislavia. So wether Breslau or Wroclaw, both refer to the original slav name of the location.

Heidi Campbell from United States Reply Sep 14th, 2010

I appreciate your article. I have a dear friend, Martha, who was born in Breslau and watched the Russian's blow the farm she lived on to pieces. She had to flee with her ten younger siblings and find homes for them all-including herself. I am interested in any public records of the city and the battles/siege that took place there. Can you offer any insights? Thanks again for the History lesson!

Nora from Canada Reply Aug 10th, 2010

Great article! Thanks for the information. My father and his family were expelled, but only years after having lost their home, spending time in a camp and then been relocated to a communal farm. The experiences of his childhood remained with my father his whole life. I hope too, to one day visit the places in Poland my family called home. It would honour my father's memory and give my children a piece of their history.

Patrick Murphy from United States Reply Aug 4th, 2010

I liked your article. Can you tell me if there is a list of German families who were evicted at the end of WW2

szymczak from Australia Reply Jul 30th, 2010

Wolyn/Wolynia was EASTERN POLAND, between Lublin and Kiev. also known as Polska Republika 1 and Polska Republika II. these people were hammered by the Germans and then by the Russian army supposedly saving Poland in a treaty with Churchill. Germany and Russian tried to wipe Poland off the map. Until people see the big picture and see how the ugliness in human nature can be released, by bad politics, they will always find fault. it happened, what can they do now, its time to get on with life and make the world a better place for our children. work with what you have, dont keep bitterness and hate over what you lost, it is gone and unless you go back in time, history cannot be changed, but we can make the future better.

Szymczak from Australia Reply Jul 30th, 2010

the history of the area is most interesting, with border changes and those that rebuild a city should be given many accolades, but when war and politice combine everyone is a victim. did the Polish people have a choice, escaping from Soviet Genocide in Western Poland, as did the Germans, Czechs, and many other nationalities who would not conform to the Soviet System. dont forget, that while Poland was being attack from the front by Germans, it was also being squeezed and wiped out by Germany's buddy at the time Russia. about 40-60,000 Polish people perished under the Soviets, along with Germans, who lived side by side in peace, until the Soviets either expelled them or murdered them in the area which is now Ukraine. Many of the German/Polish villages on the Soviet side have been totally wiped out, no longer exist or the names have been changed.look at Wolynia/Volynhnia/Wolyn and Katyn. The Polish people in other areas lived side by side in peace with Germans, even married them, until Russia went on a Genocide rampage, changing borders and gave them no choice but to conform, escape or die. it was wrong what happened to the city and people hurt, but the Polish had no choice, they lost everything, lucky to stay alive, between the Germany and Russia during WWII.

jiminlgb from United States Reply Jul 17th, 2010

In my view, pretty much all of it was unjust. You can point fingers at each other all day long, in the end, virtually every nation that was involved in that horrific war did something unjust. Axis and Allied alike. The nazis committed some horrible deeds before and during the war. The soviets were nearly as bad. Then after the war, its victims exacted their revenge, including the poles and czechs upon the ethnic germans living withing their borders. There is plenty of blame to go around. Stop pointing the finger at each other and learn to live together in peace without lingering resentment and a "they deserved what they got" attitude. It has no place in todays world.

Piotr from Poland Reply Jun 3rd, 2010

For all of you who think that relocation of Germans from what is now western Poland was unjust, please consider what Germans had in store for Poles once they would win the war, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generalplan_Ost . This was actually being implemented during the war and none other than Horst Köhler German ex president was born in one of the confiscated farms near Skierbieszów in Lublin region. I guess sometimes one rips what one sows.

JIMINLGB from United States Reply May 20th, 2010

You are welcome to Lerge. I completely understand what you say regarding european integration. Nationalities will always be important and will never disappear and it will take generations before people think of themselves as european as well as their individual nationalities. It will also take generations for people to put the past in the past. From the comments I see here, there still seem to be people that think the Germans, Poles, Russians etc all need to atone for the mis-deeds committed during and after WWII. Maybe that will happen and maybe not. We are now almost 100 years beyond WWI and that generation is almost all gone. The WWII generation will be gone in the next 30 years or so. WWII and Nazism will never be forgotten but its witnesses will be gone and so will those who believe the borders should be moved and realigned in order to re-claim a distant past. Yes, Pomerania was German for 1000 years, but it is Polish now and that is not likely to change. Its largest city, Szczecin (Stettin) is less than 100 miles from Berlin and it is entirely polish. No germans live there. It is up to all of us to accept the results of WWII. Longing for a past that was destroyed in a horrific war will not change the realities of today. Most of the border changes in the east were insisted upon by the Soviets. They wanted the German border moved as far west as they could get it. That way they could seize eastern Poland for themselves thereby shifting the entire polish nation geographically westward. The russians made the biggest land grab of all. I don't agree with it and the ethnic cleansing that followed but it is a reality that we must accept 65 years later.

DerGermane from United States Reply May 17th, 2010

"""Maybe what happened in Wroclaw is a good thing in some way? The Germans were evicted so they all stayed together as Germans in their country."" That is certainly a novel way of looking at it which would never have occurred to me. "...It wouldn't have occurred to all of the ethnic Germans that were trapped or left behind. "Verzicht ist Verrat.", Willy Brandt said. Well, Die ethnischen Deutschen in Polen und anderswohin wurden sicher verraten. There are more than 152,897 ethnic Germans in Poland...unofficially, of course. ;-)

Der Germane from United States Reply May 7th, 2010

Stell dich nicht so blöd an, Karl! The truth hurts, I know. Denial isn't a river in Egypt. No one said that Germans weren't Nazis, but what is true, is that others joined the party.At least 350,000 non-German volunteers from around 16 occupied countries willingly served in Waffen SS combat units from 1940-1945. Enlistment rolls indicate more than 125,000 West Europeans volunteered of their own free will. 220,000 Eastern European also joined. The one-sided guilt trip will end as more is re-discovered. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collaboration_with_the_Axis_Powers_during_World_War_II

Karl from Argentina Reply May 7th, 2010

Of course Nazism was not German, Germans were duped by eastern Europeans to bolive so along with the rest of the world. It was a ploy to force Germans into a war so Germany anihilates itself.

Der Germane from United States Reply May 6th, 2010

Hallo allerseits! Ran across an interesting site that discusses the question of on-gong German guilt. Very insightful for those who deeply ponders such existential matters. In my view, Germany collectively has been the World's WWII "Sündenbock" for the last 65 years. For those less inclined, there has always been a difference between Germans (those holdinging German citizenship) and NAZI's (those hold party membership). NAZI's weren't only German, as is now being confirmed through the discovery and release of many data sources throughout the World...especially from Eastern Europe and Russia. No modern German should allow themselves to unjustly be stigmatized or harassed. Contrived xenophobic disrimination at it's worst. Ich bin stolz, ein Deutscher zu sein. --Jedem das Seine (Suum cuique)-- http://atlanticreview.org/archives/161-US-Fulbrighter-probes-the-question-of-on-going-German-guilt.html

Gerry from Ireland Reply Apr 27th, 2010

I intend visiting Wroclaw/Breslau this summer. I'm looking forward to my visit. It seems that the crimes of the Nazis have been expediently used for a land grab.

godstar from France Reply Apr 26th, 2010

The right of residency is not automatic in Europe and Poland has a right of "reserve" meaning that it can , and does , limit the ammount of Land Germans can buy and own in Poland. Pomerania was German for over 1000 years, 15 million people were forcibly removed from their lands in the most horrific conditions during peacetime and Poland has not one single monument to the "affair". Poland has profited from the expulsions and has no regrets about the dead. 3 Million people died, after the war was finished in Poland , simply for being German.Poland always plays the victim never the instigater but 3 million innocent people have been forgotten

Godstar from France Reply Apr 26th, 2010

The right of Germans to buy land in Poland is limited and in Polish law they are the only EU population that has limited rights. The right of EU citizens to residence in any other EU country is not an automatic right. The right to work is but not to reside, perhaps you need to re read the treaty. Germans have limited rights and restricted to the ammount of land they can own in Poland. Besides the ethnic cleansing of Germans from Germany is the largest ever peacetime ethnic cleansing, with the largest death toll in recent history. 3 Million dead (with an estimated 3 million ancillary deaths from the deportation) in the expulsions alone. A shame on Poland and on Europe.

Lerge from United Kingdom Reply Apr 19th, 2010

Jiminlgb, I owe you a "Thank you" for your sympathetic comment to my previous post. Regarding the ability to live "anywhere in Europe" now: whilst this is true, I think that the individual nationalities still prefer to identify themselves as such, rather than being called "Europeans". Having lived in Britain for 40 years, I cannot detect the slightest wish to be European rather than British. The same applies to the other countries. Individual cultures and historical backgrounds are very diverse, each with its own 1.5 millennia of history. Nobody here wants to "blend" into being "European", however persistenly politicians promote such an agenda. To have a group of diverse nations committed to cooperation and peaceful coexistence is, to my mind, a far greater achievement and makes life within Europe far more interesting. That "past misdeeds" take much longer to heal has just been brought to our notice again through the air-tragedy in Poland, reminding us of the events at Katyn 70 years ago. I wrote to my Polish friends to extend our sympathy and at the same time to express my gladness that now at last, irrespective of our national differences, we can draw alongside each other across the borders.

Jiminlgb from United States Reply Apr 14th, 2010

TD makes a good point. Since joining the EU, Poles, Germans as well as all the other nationalities of the EU can live anywhere in the EU member countries. There are already many Germans living in Poland. Some were never expelled in the first place. I recently read that the ethnic German population in mid-silesia around the area of Brzeg or Opole is large enough that in some towns there is dual Polish/German signage. Also, in recent years some 6000 ethinc Germans from around the former Soviet Union have moved into the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia (the russian portion of the former E. Prussia). As Europeans are now free to move about within the EU in the same manner that we can move from state to state here in the U.S., their societies will become more and more blended. Over time, their "nationality" will not matter so much as just being European. This will reduce the desire of a very few to re-align national borders in the name of correcting past mis-deeds.

TD from Poland Reply Apr 1st, 2010

Q "The organisation of the Expellees have been nothing but humble in their actions and have asked for little, a full right to return and to buy Land and houses in their (old) homeland with the same rights as Poles would be a good start. A policy of right to return should be intitated and the healing , and forgiveness on both sides can begin" Q Dear Godstar, I am sure there were problems in the past but since 2004 they can do exactly that. That is what the European Union and it's law is here for. I live in Wroclaw now but plan to move to Portugal for my retirement. In the next building there is a Danish family who have moved here in 2001 and an Austrian bought a flat not far from my own 3-4 years ago as he moved here after getting a job in Poland. They can vote in local elections as any other Polish citizen. And so can Poles who live in the other 26 countries in the EU. We cross borders without passports, live, buy land and work legally in other EU countries.

Godstar from France Reply Mar 31st, 2010

The annexation of German lands after the war and the continual occupation by Poland , with little or no regard to the history of these regions or the suffering of the people involved is a stain on Poland and an insult to the descendants.The lands annexed to the east of Poland (the Curzon line or the Kresy) were not occupied on the whole by Poles but by Ukranians. There were many cities like Lwow that did have majority Polish populations, the country being majority non Polish, and the fact that they were pushed West wards was wrong but in no way does 2 wrongs make a right. The expulsions and the aradour to remove all traces of German influence , and the rewriting of history to name these areas as part of the Piast lands is a shame that was born out of communist ideology to encourage settlement in the Prussian lands. I feel sorry for the way in which the expellees were and still are treated to this day. it is remarkable that some of the contributors have had pleasant experiences in their return visits but I feel that there is still a great reluctance in Poland to accept their part in the largest ethnic cleansing campaign in peacetime. Over 15 million ethnic Germans were removed with an estimated 3 million dying prior to arriving in the New Germany; with many more dying upon arrival from disease and starvation. The organisation of the Expellees have been nothing but humble in their actions and have asked for little, a full right to return and to buy Land and houses in their (old) homeland with the same rights as Poles would be a good start. A policy of right to return should be intitated and the healing , and forgiveness on both sides can begin

Juan Carlos Cardozo Puentes from Colombia Reply Mar 14th, 2010

"...ya no es violencia lo que hacemos...sino que la "justicia" impulsa sencillamente a conducirse brutalmente. De esta "justicia" surge constantemente la nueva y espantosa INJUSTICIA para los hombres que pierden su patria y su propiedad en nombre de la supuesta "justicia". Tomado de "Ideas sobre el este aleman" por Walter v. Molo.

mreiner60 from United States Reply Mar 10th, 2010

I am one of those still remember the suffering of the period between 1937 and today. Therefore I feel with the people around the world facing comparable fate. Especially the people of Palistina.

Jiminlgb from United States Reply Mar 6th, 2010

To Lerge in the U.K. I cannot imagine what it must be like for you to visit your former homeland considering the circumstances that you left under. We Americans tend to be very egotistical and full of ourselves. The U.S. has never lost territory to another nation and had its citizens forcably expelled. I was born in metro Los Angeles, as was my mother and grandparents. At least one branch of my family has been in So California for nearly 100 years. Although I now live in Seattle WA, I take comfort in the fact that I can still visit the places where I lived and went to school as well as visit family that still lives there. If the same thing had happened to me, as has happened to you, I am not sure I could ever go back. I admire your strength for being able to go back to re-visit a place that would have too many painful memories for me. It is also admirable that the Polish citizens that now live in Wroklaw/Breslau and the rest of Silesia and Pomerania are able to put aside the past and treat you and other former residents with courtesey and respect. Others in this crazy world we live in should take note.

Lerge from United Kingdom Reply Mar 6th, 2010

Having now read so much of history, back even to the French-Prussian War in 1870/71, I comment as one who has returned to Silesia a number of times to revisit the places of my ancestors and my roots. In Breslau, I was invited into the house, and room, were I was born. Further north on the banks of the Oder I was allowed to visit my grandparents home. I had tea in my grandmother's former kitchen, and in the garden remembered the snowman we made. I inspected the now delapidated house built by my great-great-grandfather as the poshest hotel in town and across the square was able to decipher the almost illegible gravestone of my great-great-great-grandfather. I stood in the ruins of the church where my grandparents were married and where a gravestone of even further ancestors remains. In every place I found helpful, friendly, and considerate people. And some have become true friends. Nevertheless, my sense of loss is as acute as ever and increases with every visit. And my early childhood memories of expulsion, fear, flight, and deprivation have not dimmed. My generation, although German, needs to be allowed to grieve. What are mere facts of history to some are still acutely painful facts to those who had to endure them.

Jiminlgb from United States Reply Mar 4th, 2010

To respond to what Bronxite says about my previous post. Let me clarify. First, the treaty that defined the U.S./Canadian border was a negotiated treaty, not imposed, and the U.S. was never required to give up territory already recognized as part of the U.S. Apples to oranges on that one. The treaty of Versailles was not the only thing that contributed to WWII but it was one of the principle things. For one thing, yes the French did seethe with anger after the Franco-Prussian war of 1871 and their desire for revenge over the loss of Alsace (the land of my ancestors) and part of Lorraine helped fuel their desire to arrange military alliances againsed Germany (the tirple entante). The Versailles treaty also required Germany to give up territory to nations than did not even participate in the conflict (Netherlands, Denmark)stripped her of all overseas posessions, and required Germany to accept all responsibility for a war that all of the major european powers at the time had a hand in starting. The hyperinflation was caused by the reparations payments because they were so high that the only way to pay them on schedule was to print more money. And when Germany didn't in the 1920s, the French occupied the Ruhr. The Mark became worthless. Germany was also required to give away its natural resources as well, such as coal from the Saar valley, to France and Italy. Driving up the price of these commodities at home. Their navy was locked up in Scapa Flow Scotland and their army was reduced to only 100,000. Not even enough to defend the country when Lithuania siezed the Memel area in 1920. All of this was seen as a humiliation by the German people. The nazis tapped into this and took advantage of it. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to justify the rise of the nazis and I believe that the German people should have seen what Hitler was doing and stopped him. I am just saying that the Versailles treaty opened the door and the nazis simply walked through it.

bronxite10 from United States Reply Mar 3rd, 2010

"United States" makes a good point that countries have been grabbing each other's land for centuries. It also must have been pretty cruddy for him to have to deal as a child with his classmates giving him Nazi salutes. But his idea of "just moving on" throws away valuable material from which we can learn an enormous amount. Take his narrative that the Treaty of Versailles led Germans to seethe in anger and provoked WWII. When the French paid Germany an enormous indemnity as the losers of the Franco-Prussian War, did they "seethe in anger" as a result which led to WWI? Americans elected Polk in 1844 with the slogan of 54 40 or fight (meaning that the US was entitled to British Columbia and Alberta and if it didn't get it, it should fight Great Britain). But when a treaty a few years later continued the border from Minnesota to the Pacific, did Americans "seethe in anger". Did the reparations cause the hyperinflaction of 1923, or was it the printing press? All I'm suggesting is that the standard narrative, "Treaty of Versailles leads to WWII" has lots of flaws in it as well as some validity. Why should we care at this point? Because we want to answer the underlying question of why someone will fight and die in one generation for something that his counterpart a generation or two later would find daft. How do societies fixate on their priorities? Why are "historic" German lands in the east not an issue for Germany but "historic" Kosovo is certainly an issue for Serbia even though few Serbs live in Kosovo. Why is moving to pre-67 Israel (as against the West Bank or Gaza) a priority for Palastinian refugees in Lebanon who have never even been to either Israel, the West Bank or Gaza? Part of it is that we're conditioned to accept narratives as truth when, in fact, they're only narratives. That's what makes this area a goldmine of information.

from United States Reply Mar 3rd, 2010

I have read all the previous comments and found it amazing at how much bias still exists some 60 odd years after WWII. Yes, the nazi's committed horrible attrocities during the war and yes, the russians, poles, czechs etc. all exacted their revenge. It is a part of history that neither side should forget less they might repeat it in the future. Did the soviets have the right to annex nearly 1/3 of poland? Did the poles have the right to almost 25% of Germany? That is a question that may never be answered but the reality is that the current borders in place today have been agreed upon by all the nations involved and germans and poles alike no longer inhabit their former eastern lands. Moving the borders now would be rediculous. Lets not forget that the borders in europe have been shifting for centuries. Some here talk of the Germans "siezing" polish territory during the middle ages but fail to mention that the poles also conquered territory in their past. In the 16th century poland was the 2nd largest country in europe after russia and encompassed all of what is now poland, lithuania, latvia, belarus and western ukrane including kiev. Europeans have been siezing each others territory for centuries. The ottomans of turkey conquered all of southeast europe up to the gates of Vienna and Napoleon marched his troops all the way to Moscow in an attempt to conquer the entire continent. Stop trying to proclaim innocence while pointing the finger of guilt at each other and just learn to live together in peace. As for the rise of the nazis, you can thank the treaty of versailles for that. No single thing did as much to create the perfect conditions for the rise of nazism than a treaty that did more to punish than to create a lasting peace. I don't know of anyone, especially us arrogant americans, that would not seethe with anger at seeing their country cut in two and carved up like a pie, and then told that they will be making war reparations that they could not afford until 1988!! (originally, modified later). It wrecked the economy and created run-away inflation and fostered an anger and resentment that the nazis gleefuly took advantage of. I am of german ancestry and know full well that germans will never live down their nazi past (I got the nazi salute in school as a child when others learned of my german heritage). Likewise, the russians probably wont live down their soviet past either. Three things regarding history. Acknowledge, accept, move on. The war is over.

bronxite10 from United States Reply Feb 28th, 2010

JC, the war was certainly needless. There was no need for German racism, German militarism or the Nazi belief that life is a ruthless struggle in which the strong dominate (and should dominate) the weak. That was what "ordinary" Germans bought into, including many Germans in Breslau. Your grandfather may have been a Social Democrat in 1939, may have felt in 1939 that the destruction of Warsaw was barbaric, and may have brought up your mother's brother to reject the principles of the Hitler youth, but the odds are against it. War is horrible and randomly produces vicitms on a massive scale. The English and French learned that after WWI and did everything they could to avoid its repetition. Had Germans learned that lesson, too, there would have been no WWII. But it took the flight of your mother as a child in sub-zero weather, the death of her brother, the loss of their possessions, and that experience repeated many times over in Germany, 1945 so that ordinary people would separate themselve in their "zero hour" from the social building blocks of Nazism. That Germans did so successfully is a tribute to them and to humanity. That that's what it took to get them to do so illuminates horrible flaws in human nature. The question that it leaves is how to get people to reject blatent lies and massive moral ugliness without having to have your mother chased from her home in sub-zero weather.

JC from United Kingdom Reply Feb 24th, 2010

Don't usually comment on these things but felt I had to on this one. I just wonder how many of the people commenting have any connection to Breslau, from the sounds of it not many. Its still a very emotive subject for those of us whose families had to leave the city. My mother as a young girl walked out of the city with her mother in sub-zero temperatures, in January 1945, which killed many of the refugees. Her brother was killed and father badly injured in the seige, they lost everything but the clothes on their back and the few possessions they could carry. She wasn't to see her homeland for another 50 years (her mother never returned. When we paid a long awaited visit a few years ago we were devastated to find that all traces of its German past had been erased, even down to the graves in the Cathedral. My mother will never return its too painful for her. It is for her and the millions of refugees from the east that I am writing this, and urge you all to remember these were just ordinary people, like you, whose lives were devastated, they were also victims of this needless war.

bronxite10 from United States Reply Feb 16th, 2010

Lerge, Wikipedia had the following on the Sudetenland: "On 4 December 1938 there were elections in Reichsgau Sudetenland, in which 97.32% of the adult population voted for NSDAP. About a half million Sudeten Germans joined the Nazi Party which was 17.34% of the German population in Sudetenland (the average NSDAP participation in Nazi Germany was 7.85%). This means the Sudetenland was the most "pro-Nazi" region in the Third Reich." As a result of the Munich agreement, the Germans required the expulsion of all Czechs from the Sudetenland. Do you really think that after WWII, Czechs should still have been required to have Sudeten Germans as their countrymen? Germans in Danzig before WWII largely endorsed Nazi rule and incorporation into the Reich even though they were under the jurisdiction of the League of Nations. They controlled the mouth of the Vistula. Should the Poles nevertheless have accepted that continued control after WWII? The Inter-War Polish corridor was largely ethnically Polish, but Germany had no problem incorporating it into the Reich when they had the power to do so. Should Poles have put themselves at the end of WWII in the position where they had to risk that again? The current German-Polish border is much shorter and much more defensible than the pre-WWII Polish-German border. Were Polish interests in a defensible border after WWII of no importance compared to the German interest in maintaining themselves in their eastern lands? German eastern lands included the large Junker estates. Were Polish interest in their eradication misplaced? The Treaty of Versailles went out of its way to draw boundaries that made the fewest members of one nationality citizens of another nation. Nevertheless, the boundaries left Germans and Hungarians in Czechoslovakia, Poles in Germany, Hungarians in Romania, and so on. It was the source of many fascist demands in the Inter-War period. Should the victors of WWII have given it another try nevertheless? The Polish Jews who survived the Nazis did not want to go back to Poland in which their homes and families had been destroyed and which was wracked with anti-semitic riots after WWII. They were desparate to go to Palastine. Should they have been forced to go back to Poland nevertheless? Did the settlements after WWII do perfect justice to each individual? No, of course not. But consider that after WWI, a second world war in Europe did not seem unthinkable. After the settlement of WWII, a third Europeon war seems pretty far fetched. After WWI, Germany was a feeble democracy, despised by many Germans on the right and the left. Today, Germany is a healthy democracy with strong popular support, and German militarism is dead. Today, Europeon integration is alive and well (if moving in fits and starts). After WWI, there was no Europeon integration to speak of. Europe is far, far better off today than it was after WWI. Perhaps if you had a magic wand and could change the post WWII settlement, you could have done a lot better. But don't be too sure. There's something to be said for a settlement that produced a Europe today that would have been as a far fetched utopian fantasy in 1936.

Lerge from United Kingdom Reply Feb 14th, 2010

""...Germans viewed themselves as victims in 1945 without regard to the havoc they wrecked on....." The definition of "victim" may be helpful here: A VICTIM IS: 1)someone who is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent 2) someone who is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed 3) someone who is subjected to oppression, hardship, mistreatment, or torture." If for "SOMEONE" you put "persons", then ALL those persons are victims who are subjected to any of the above treatment, no matter what nationality they may have. Nor does it matter what the EXCUSES for such treatments are! The ONLY EXCEPTION LEGALLY RECOGNIZED IS THE ACTION ON THE BATTLEFIELD ITSELF: the actual engagement of ARMIES. It follows therefore, that,indeed, innumerable civilians were victims of Nazi Germany, and few, if any, Germans would deny this. Equally, millions of German civilians, in their homes, on the road, and on the flight, became VICTIMS of actions of revenge. No non-German should deny this either.

from United States Reply Feb 7th, 2010

That's right, Der Germaine. I'm progressive and liberal and from New York. And I read a lot. Right now, I'm in the middle of Richard Bessel's Germany 1945 in which he notes that many Germans viewed themselves as victims in 1945 without regard to the havoc they wrecked on Europe during the preceding five years or so. Perhaps that syndrome is familiar to you? Sorry if you think that amounts to a lack of critical thinking, but I call it like I see it.

Der Germane from United States Reply Feb 7th, 2010

bronxite10--seemingly of New York-- is regurgitating U.S. Progressive talking points, and demonstrating that critical thinking is not allowed in Progressivism. No surprise, New York is terribly progressive. Despite the clever name, Progressives are not progressive at all. One must read as many history sources as possible to gain true perspective, not just that of "The Victors". Thinking is a free man's game, apparently not allowed in Progressivism, Marxism, Fascism, or Communism.

bronxite10 from United States Reply Feb 7th, 2010

This site is much more interesting than watching U.S. Civil War re-enacters. The re-enacters live a few 150 year old battles whereas this site relives ethnic and political battles of a 1000 years. The comments suffer from the basic historical fallacy of locating historical wrongs with governments and victimhood with individuals. It's never that simple. About 43% of Breslau voted in 1932 for Hitler and his policy of anti-semitisim and the need for Germans to expand eastward for "living space". It's hard to call them innocent in the loss of their homes. What they wished for others was done to them although the intensity of what was done to them never reached the gas chamber level. What about the many in the 57% who voted for Hindenberg but who later cheered the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland? What of the ones who were ecstatic over the fall of France in 1940? Sure by June, 1945 they all wanted to forget their recent past like a bad dream and just move on with their lives as if nothing had happened, but that hardly made them blameless victims. On the other hand, what of Breslau's Social Democrats who did not dare emerge until after Hitler was dead. Their fate was the same as those who trusted "Der Fuhrer" without reservation as late as January, 1945. And what about the 12 year old girl raped by a Soviet soldier as she cried for her mother. Don't think that that didn't happen as well. There is some rough justice in German loss of their eastern, Junker-ridden, Prussian militarist producing lands. It's hard to blame the Czechs for driving out the Sudeten Germans or the Poles from annexing Silesia. The massive ethnic cleansing that accompanied the end of WWII produced many a horror story. But it was the facsist hypernationalism and racisim that made the polyglot populations of central Europe so unstable in the inter-war period, and Germany was in the forefront of that movement. History sweeps on making victims of guilty and innocent alike and sometimes benefiting those who don't deserve it at all. The purity of any national historical myth is usually based in a lot of denial and forgetting. Rather than repeat national myths like fairy tails and defend their narratives when attacked, doesn't it make more sense to understand things as they were and use the lessons to make the world better? Look at the way many Germans have drawn on the horrors of the German past to become liberal, broad minded and pacific. Many are what Beethoven could only dream of when he wrote the last movement of his 9th symphony. One wishes that many in the U.S. South could deal with their heritage of slavery and succession as honestly. They hide from the fact that Southern seccesion before the U.S. Civil War was based in the defense of a slave society. They equate their narcisstic view - the attitude is I can do anything I damn well please and I don't owe anything to anyone - with liberty, and they lie whenever it is convenient e.g. the South fought a just war for local control, Obama is a socialist, Obama's healthcare would give everyone poor care, there's no global warming, suspect most foreigners, and the only thing the central government is good for is the creation of a strong military. Anyone else see an echo of Euoropean fascist hyper-nationalism from the interwar period? How about Hamas? Palastine was always Arab and Muslim. Jews have no place there. Palastine should be an Islamic state from the Jordan to the sea. It's a fine thing to kill Israeli civilians because they're Jews, their fathers were Jews and their grandfathers were Jews, and besides, there are no Israeli civilians. Suicide bombers are glorious and rockets fired against Sdorot are just fine. The fascist impulse is riding high and is Gaza's national policy. What about the fringe settlers on the West Bank who don't see Palastinains with their own claims on the land and who write myophic religious commentaries about how they should exact a "price tag" from Palastinian civilians in response for the Israeli government's call for a freeze on settlement construction. Once again, the fascist impulse. It's better to understand the past, although it can be difficult and quite unflattering, then to lap up the pap of sanitized historical myth. Only then can anyone ask the question of how to get a two state solution in the Middle East free of the fascist impulse whether it is in Hamas national policy or in the settler movement on the West Bank. Only then can you get national health care in the U.S. free of the fascist impulse of the old Confederacy of the South, and only then can anyone get a place in the chorus of the last movement of Beethoven's 9th.

Lerge from United Kingdom Reply Feb 1st, 2010

""Maybe what happened in Wroclaw is a good thing in some way? The Germans were evicted so they all stayed together as Germans in their country."" That is certainly a novel way of looking at it which would never have occurred to me.

David Wayne from United States Reply Jan 30th, 2010

You forgot to mention that in the 1400's Wroclaw was actually a part of Hungary as well. Under King Matthias Corvinus and was known as Boroszlo. Poles and Hungarians have always been good neighbors and friends though. Wroclaw is a beautiful city, have been many times and yes there are ghosts of the past but that's history. Hungary was also chopped up into 7 countries and a majority of their population given to foreign countries. Maybe what happened in Wroclaw is a good thing in some way? The Germans were evicted so they all stayed together as Germans in their country. In Hungary's case there are millions living outside their borders and being treated like crap by their new masters. I am sure that more than a few Germans managed to remain in Wroclaw, but the fact that these events are acknowledged means it will never be forgotten.

Mark de Jonge from Netherlands Reply Jan 23rd, 2010

My mother was born in Breslau in 1936 and fled to the west when the Russians advandced. Like a lot of people from that region she and her family initialy fled to Dresden where she was caught in this major RAF bombardment where thousands of innocent civilian refugees lost their lives. The fact that the city of Dresden was full of refugees was well known before the RAF decided to attack. Don't get me wrong, the nazi's were to be conquered because they were evil but this attack on Dresden was not needed considering the fact that the war was nearly finished. Luckilly my mom survived and married a dutch bloke after the war and presto: I'm here!!

Der Germane from United States Reply Jan 5th, 2010

"Weren't the British, USA and Soviet governments which took that decision and are responsible for that terrible injustice inflicted on 12 million innocent Germans?" Da! The Potsdam Treaty made it possible for the inappropriate land grabs. The USSR is most to blame for this. The execution, however, was carried out on the ground by Poles, Czechs, Russians, Hungarians, Romanians, Yugolsavs, etc. The post-war reactionary atrocities against the non-military German population were just as wrong as the war-time atrocities committed by the Axis powers against the Eastern European populations. Polish and Czech/ Slovak war crimes are just coming to light after 65 years. The Soviet Union falsely educated their populations. Now, with relative freedom, these countries are able to research works outside of Soviet influence. It must be difficult for those countries to learn of, and admit, their complicity.

Moritz from United Kingdom Reply Dec 21st, 2009

What are you trying to say Theodore? That we need another war to give Germans their lost land? Which was actually grabbed by them from Poles and other Western Slavs on some point... Weren't the British, USA and Soviet governments which took that decision and are responsible for that terrible injustice inflicted on 12 million innocent Germans? You are not British are you? German you are, aren't you? You can stop dreaming about your lost realms from now on, matey...

from United States Reply Dec 20th, 2009

""http://healthandenergy.com - "Deadly Diesel Fumes" Published Feb. 24, 2005 "The deadly effects of breathing diesel fumes came into sharp focus this week when the Clean Air Task Force (CATF) released a report[1] estimating that diesel fumes kill about 21,000 U.S. citizens each year."" A mere myth, Mr. Brown??

geneofil from Albania Reply Dec 18th, 2009

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:West_slavs_9th-10th_c..png this map show everything about slavic settlement and mixed population slavs-germans in this area. Germans have many polish blood it is true that germans owned slavs and also got their genes

jeff brown from United States Reply Dec 18th, 2009

ref Dita 'diesel engine exhausts' diesel engine exhaust ARE NOT POISONOUS. they stink and are unpleasant but cannot kill you. You are repeating a bogus claim you have heard somewhere else!

theodore grapsas from United Kingdom Reply Dec 16th, 2009

my ancient greek ancestors as in almost everything else were spot on.to the victor the spoils...and history is written by the victors....and woe to the vanquised... the bottom line is that what now is called western poland is german lands as they have been for over 1000 years.the original german population has been ethnically cleansed,raped and robbed from their land,homes,cities and villages even their cemeteries have been wiped out. so spare us the pathetic excuses and justifications for legalising one of the biggest crimes in european history against over 12.000.000 people.there is no excuse or justification.Breslau will always be breslau NOT wroclaw,so will Danzig..Stettin..Posen..Konigsberg.. Allenstein etc...etc...

Dita from United Kingdom Reply Dec 4th, 2009

""Let's forget.." NO! But it must also be remembered that the German people were the first victims of the Nazi regime as follows: ""After the 1932 election, it became clear to the Nazi leadership that they would never be able to secure a majority of votes and that they would have to rely on other means to gain power. In addition to an increased use of violence, aimed at disrupting and intimidating their opponents, the Nazis set up concentration centres, where the regime used to lock up the "undesirable elements" of society, and the elderly, mentally ill, and handicapped were often confined in makeshift camps where they were starved or gassed to death with diesel engine exhaust. The Final Solution was therefore initially tested on German citizens...."" Nor must it be forgotten that tens of thousands of those murdered and now collectively referred to as "Jews" were German,too. Atrocities on all sides must be remembered if the Nazi spirit is to be extinguished once for all.

Vince from Australia Reply Nov 29th, 2009

Countries that have suffered under the Nazi Jackboot: Lets just all forget about the unfortunate incidents such as Auschwitz, Dachau etc, lets just forget about the systematic annihilation of Warsaw, lets just forget about the SS Einsatzgruppen in Russia with continual massacre of non-combatants, lets just forget about 1.5 million Poles and 6 million Jews eliminated in death camps, lets just forget about the systematic annihilation of all peoples not fitting into the Nazi Aryan ideal, we can just kiss and make up!!!!!!!! xxxxxx

Der Germane from United States Reply Nov 27th, 2009

"Two wrongs don't make a right"...it is a logical fallacy that has been used by nearly everyone in attempt to clear people conscious about the killing of INNOCENT German civilians in Schlesien and elsewhere in German Prussia. What a pitifully, sad low-brow argument to justify revenge-murder on inculpable non-combatants. The height of grenzenlose Dummheit.

poultry from United States Reply Nov 25th, 2009

heil the german empire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dita from United Kingdom Reply Nov 21st, 2009

My Jewish uncle who fled to Britain before the war and lost his mother on the way to Auschwitz used to say: "The perpetrator of atrocities has no excuse. No, not even the excuse of taking revenge" - That settles it.

Vince from Australia Reply Nov 19th, 2009

The injustice the Germans of Wroclaw experienced is a consequence of the Nazi invasion of Poland and the Germans losing the second world war. There suffering is a mere pin prick compared to the systematic destruction of Poland dealt out by the Nazis, who were hell bent in not just invading and occupying Poland, but eliminating it from existence by the targeting of its intelligentsia. Furthermore, with the Molotov Ribbentrop pact, they were complicit with the Soviet Union in the attempted obliteration of Poland from existence. By losing the war, they reaped what they sowed, and Poland lives on! This article tries to highlight and emphasize the wrongs done to the Germans, but ignores the much greater and numerous wrongs they committed. The real villains in this border playing of Europe are Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, not Poland.

Lerg from United Kingdom Reply Nov 17th, 2009

The previous primitive contribution seems to have shocked everybody into silence. What a shame. Can such offensive nonsense not be erased?

that nigga that fucked your mom from United States Reply Oct 7th, 2009

breslau is only good for nazi zombies der rise haha

from United States Reply Oct 1st, 2009

Der Germane, can't thank you enough for your information !!!!! My father has no records, he escaped in 1939....still this is a wonderful start to my quest...

Der Germane from United States Reply Sep 29th, 2009

Mindy: Here is a Jewish website that may provide some clues. http://www.jewish-guide.pl/sites/31 and here too: http://jewishgen.blogspot.com/2009/08/poland-marks-65th-lodz-ghetto.html Łódź in German is Lodz or Lodsch. Between 1940–1945 it was called Litzmannstadt. As for Breslau, this website has some good info. Also here:http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~polwgw/polandgen.html Perhaps you father has records. If he was in the Army, for those born before 1890 are stored at Bundesarchiv - Milit"ararchiv Wiesentalstrasse 10 79115 Freiburg/Breisgau Read more: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/genealogy/german-faq/part3/section-1.html#ixzz0SYM7srKC Viel Glück!

Mindy from United States Reply Sep 29th, 2009

deseperating seeking information pertaining to my fathers family who lived in Breslau till 1939. German Jews in the linen business. I was told my grandfather was in the German Army pre Hitler. If there is anyone who can help reference me to search my familys past please leet me know. My father now has alzhemiers, and would never talk about it when he could. Nor would my Mom who left Poland in 1921, though many of her family didn't and were also killed. They were from Ludz. Any information for this soul searcher would be wonderful and I thank you in advance.

Mark LV from United Kingdom Reply Sep 20th, 2009

The truth is that the Soviets should not have been allowed to play with the borders of eastern Europe. The border changes imposed on the defeated Germany, and the consequent expulsions of populations, should be considered a crime against humanity. Some 2 million people died in the expulsions, which were carried out in the most brutal way possible. A disgrace and an example of vicious revenge once a war had already ended.

Lerge from United States Reply Sep 10th, 2009

Fuehrer.... "Nonsense"

Der Fuehrermuseum from United States Reply Sep 5th, 2009

Stephen, it is always nice to see how generous germanophiles are especially with what does not belong to them. Humor me please and explain just how would you communicate your brilliant ideas to the governments of Lithuania, Belorussia, and Ukraine? Instead for starters I rather see Germany returning all art and national treasures stolen by Prussia/Germany form Poland in the last 300 years. How about that Stephen?

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