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Ulrich Scheuner, Remarks on the Legal Status of "Displaced Persons" in Germany (December 14-15, 1948)

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4. It is entirely unthinkable that the DPs could, for example, be given the same status as foreign groups living in Germany. According to the Potsdam Agreement, the right of Slovene groups to live in Germany can be recognized [at all] only with reservations. If the expulsion of the Germans is upheld, the least one should do here is consider the idea of a population exchange and, in any case, the emigration of irridentist groups. The Danish group in southern Schleswig, which could also be described as irridentist, is in an entirely different category. To put them into the same category with the DPs does not seem justified.

However, such a policy in Germany surely cannot help the Germans abroad. To pursue a special status for them, given all states’ current anxiety about fifth columns and so on, especially German ones, would be tantamount to making life impossible for them. For German workers abroad there are only two options: either guest status as a foreigner, or assimilation as an immigrant with the final goal of naturalization. Everything else, ideas about preserving German cohesion, are entirely impossible given today’s utter rejection of this sort of German “work abroad.” Mentioning the Saar Germans in this context is erroneous. Formally, they are not yet French, and will never be a minority, since the territory is purely German.

A rebuilding of the law on minorities must proceed from entirely new ideas that will not be presented in detail here. The DPs, however, have nothing to do with them.

5. The permanent assimilation of the DPs in Germany is predicated upon the desire of the DPs for such a situation. This concerns their incorporation into the labor force in particular. To the extent that they reject labor force participation, which happens with a portion of the DPs, little progress is likely. Permanent assimilation is likewise predicated upon their being made subject to German authorities, and upon their political activity assuming a neutral character. Now, when the DPs depend exclusively on the occupation, it can be of no concern if they engage in anti-Russian propaganda. After their incorporation into German structures, that is no longer possible.

6. The solution for the DPs seems to lie in the following direction: to rely on the general occupation, as long as it continues. In the process, to expand German authority over them by way of gradual adjustment: police and judicial authority. If the occupation ends, the conclusion of a treaty of guarantee with the occupying powers, in which the involvement of the IRO in supervising the adherence to the agreed-upon protective provisions seems appropriate. Apart from these guarantees, however, the DPs would have to be made fully subordinate to German jurisdiction and administrative sovereignty. Giving foreigners in Germany extraterritorial status or exempting them from German sovereignty does not seem compatible with German statehood in the long run. The unimpeded activity of the IRO in Germany would provide a sufficient guarantee of the rights of the DPs. There is no additional need for an appeal to international bodies, since the guaranteeing powers with whom that agreement would have to be concluded can intervene diplomatically at any time or, given Germany’s status, would even have other possibilities to intervene on behalf of the DPs at any time.

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