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

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7. Alongside this fundamental comment, the following details on which the expert opinion seems to be entirely accurate should be highlighted:

a) The number of DPs in Germany today is given as 775,000. But I do not know whether this number reflects DPs and other foreigners, or only recognized DPs.

b) Only some of the DPs present in Germany today must be seen as displaced by the war. The Jewish DPs came in 1946 (around 100,000 individuals), after the resurgence of anti-Semitic sentiment in Eastern Europe, the number of Czech refugees is currently around 30-40,000. Moreover, there are other political refugees in Germany (Hungarians, Yugoslavs, members of the USSR). On the whole, however, the segment of DPs who came to Germany earlier should also be seen, for all practical purposes, as political émigrés because of their rejection of the current regimes in their homelands. It would be high time to emphasize more forcefully that Germany cannot be held responsible for the migrations that occurred after the war and that the responsibility lies with the protagonists of Teheran, Yalta, and Potsdam.

c) It is wrong to say that the DPs, even if they do not wish to return, have given up their citizenship. There is no unilateral renunciation of citizenship, only a release from the state. Rather, the USSR precisely emphasizes that these persons must be forcibly returned; therefore, it has no intention of releasing them. The DPs are therefore not stateless, but remain Romanians, Poles, etc.

d) It is not correct (p. 4) that the DPs are not leaving. On the contrary, a large resettlement program by the IRO is under way; it is operating via the Bremerhaven emigration camp and is already removing large numbers of DPs. A substantial decline in their numbers is expected over the next two years. The IRO’s lack of financial strength is not much of an impediment, since other sources are helping, for example the Jewish Agency (Joint Distribution Committee) for the Jews.

e) The reference to Estonian cultural autonomy is correct. But it is wrong to say that the same situation prevailed in Latvia. The situation of the Germans there rested only on actual measures or decrees by the ministry, which could be revoked; it was therefore not secure, and even if the situation was satisfactory after much struggle, it cannot be described as a model regulation in Latvia. Moreover, it became less favorable after 1934, when a semi-dictatorial regime established itself in Latvia.

The submission by Prof. Scheuner of Assenheim served as the basis for the deliberations of the Council of States’ [Länderrat] Committee for Questions of State and Constitutional Law on December 14-15, 1948.

Source: BArch, Z 40/468, copy; reprinted in Udo Wengst and Hans Günther Hockerts, Geschichte der Sozialpolitik in Deutschland, Bd. 2/2: 1945-1949: Die Zeit der Besatzungszonen. Sozialpolitik zwischen Kriegsende und der Gründung zweier deutscher Staaten. Dokumente [The History of Social Policy in Germany, Vol. 2/2: 1945-1949. The Era of the Occupation Zones. Social Policy between the End of the War and the Founding of Two German States. Documents]. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2001, pp. 545-48.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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