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The East Prussian Holocaust
Prussia, known for some the most distinctly characterized people, culture, and land. Famous in war, uncompromisingly disciplined, tactful, honorable, and industrious. Traits that helped define the very meaning of what it is to be German. A proud people, although tempered with humility by the climate, land, and geographic disadvantage. They comprised a truly unique, tolerant, and diverse culture set in a dreamlike land in which time seemed to stand still. A place where the world was understood and humanity's place in it determined.
1945, East Prussians fleeing their homeland
Many who hear the word "Prussian", think of iron-faced men, unflinching in their desire for conquest and war. Many think that the Prussian culture was one entirely made up of war. While Prussia had great successes in warfare, it was largely defensive in nature. Prussia is dotted with hundreds of fortresses and thousands of villages. All built for one purpose, defense. Prussia was the last line of defense between Germanic and Slavic borders. Prussians were good at war because they had to be to ensure the survival of their nation.
1945, East Prussians fleeing their homeland
1945, East Prussians fleeing their homeland
Sadly, this culture only exists today in the hearts and memories of those who have survived. What is it they survived? Amazingly, the single largest forced relocation of people the world has ever known. This fact is amazing in and of itself. What is even more amazing is how these historical events have largely gone undocumented, and unrecognized by historians.
This loss of lives, land, culture, and future comprises the East Prussian Holocaust. It is an atrocity because of the millions that lost their lives, homes, and way of life. The hardest thing to accept is that there will never be new memories, for what Prussia was has disappeared as if it was wiped off the face of the earth.
All that can be hoped for is that the survivors tell us about East Prussia. How it was, how they thought, how they lived. Only then can we begin to understand and grow to appreciate what Prussian culture was and how much humanity has lost in its absence.
Counting only civilians killed or expelled from the provinces of East Prussia, West Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia and the Sudetenland, there were 15 Million victims in total of which 2.8 Million were killed, and 12 Million expelled. (another 0.2 Million remained unaccounted for.)