What does it mean to have lost a homeland and a home community—and to have done so, moreover, under such politically complex circumstances? How did the differing refugee and resettlement policies of East and West Germany shape refugee experience and hence narratives of return? And how is return itself understood, given the eventual insistence of both German governments (even in the process of reunification) that the Oder-Neisse line remain Germany’s permanent border? In other words, what does individual, temporary return feel like when the possibility of collective, permanent return remains politically foreclosed? This book takes on a central yet underexplored subject, the way postwar German literature (and film) reflects on the loss of the German lands, through the lens of visits to former homes. It explores narratives of return to Central and Eastern Europe in four clusters of German-language literature and film from the post-war years to the present, including German-Jewish accounts of return to 1960s Wroc?aw, GDR fiction of the 60s and 70s, fictional narratives of return to the Czech lands after the Velvet Revolution, and documentary films by Volker Koepp and Helke Misselwitz.
Brangwen Stone researches and teaches in the German Studies program at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.