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Barton, Betty. / The problem of 12 million German refugees in today's Germany
([1949])

Section V: What are the possibilities for German refugees?,   pp. 35-39 ff. PDF (1.7 MB)


Page 35


SECTION V
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBILITIES FOR THE GERMAN
REFUGEES?
The physical, economic, social and political difficulties of these 12
million refugees are too complicated for simple solution.
Keenly aware of the "cold war" between East and West, many of
the refugees imagine that a real war might bring about their return to
their former homes in the east. Local Germans, oppressed by the over-
crowding caused by the superimposed population, also speak of this as
a way out. This negative approach reflects the despair of the people who
have been presented with no more constructive alternatives.
Emigration
Emigration from Germany is widely discussed-by the refugees, by
indigenous Germans, and by many groups who wish to help. At best
it can be the solution for only a few hundred thousand able-bodied per-
sons. The IRO experience with Displaced Persons has shown the com-
plications and limitations of large-scale resettlement plans.
The USSR has proposed one type of emigration by asking Czech-
oslovakia to accept the return of 300,000 Sudetens from the Russian
Zone. Such a move would relieve over-population pressures in the Zone
and would provide Czech industries with urgently needed manpower.
Eventually quite a number of the refugees may be invited to return to
their former communities. This is particularly true for those from the
Eastern Provinces, even if the final boundary determinations favor Po-
land. The total number involved, however, would not be sufficient to
alter the over-all problem.
Assimilation
Under present circumstances the only practical solution of the prob-
lem of German refugees appears to be their absorption by the German
population. In western Germany the legislative groundwork is laid for
this eventuality. From an economic standpoint it is possible, if increased
industrial production is permitted. Germany can produce 60 per cent of
the food necessary for its present population. Forty per cent must be
imported. The exporting of industrial products could make this trade
exchange possible.
Given such foreign trade, Germany can absorb the refugee workers,
even the marginal ones, into her labor market. The primary requisite for
such employment stabilization is the redistribution of refugee labor. To
match the available skills of the refugees with job openings a national
employment service is needed.
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