Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Joseph Perry - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Jared Poley


This thesis examines German memories of the Vertriebene, the twelve million Germans who fled their homeland in the face of Russian invasion in the closing days of World War II. I explore the acceptable limits of victim discourse and consider the validity of arguments about German victimization in light of the atrocities committed by Germans during the war. Three chapters discuss diaspora, discourse and commemoration. I relate diaspora historiography to the Vertriebene and then dissect the discourse of the Bund der Vertriebenen and its construction of a German "victim mythos" that undermined more acceptable claims for the recognition of Germans victimhood. I then analyze debates over the suitable commemoration of German victims in academic discourse, fiction, and efforts to build a memorial to the Vertriebene. I conclude that some Germans can be considered legitimate victims of the war, but only when one also remembers the victims of Germans.


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