‘Resettlers’ and new beginnings 1945

WW II ended with the victory of the allies over Nazi Germany. The country was divided into four zones among USA, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. Brandenburg belonged to the Soviet zone (SBZ). The region was the site for bitter disputes during the last war days and belonged to the most devastated parts of Germany. Whole towns and cities lied in ruins, railroads, streets, fields and dikes were destroyed. Hunger and illnes posed a threat to the lives of humans. During this time of need Brandenburg developed to a main area of receiving refugees and displaced peopke from East and South East Europe. Until summer 1945 over 600 000 people came, and the numbers were rising constantly.
People mainly came from what today is Poland, Czech Republic, Russia, Ukraine and Rumania to Brandenburg - and with them new dialects and traditions. Because they were expeled for being Germans, fled or displaced, they didn't have any possesions. In the official language use of the GDR they were not allowed to call themselves refugees or displaced people. They were not able to talk about their experiences. Instead, they were euphemistically called 'resettlers' and then as new residents. The so-called central administration for German resettlers was located in Potsdam. The institution directed the reception of refugees and displaced people through local authorities. The people were meagerly sheltered in camps and in the houses and flats of local Brandenburgers. Many of them finally received a piece of land in the context of the land reform and became 'new farmers'. The living situation was not solved, however, since they did not get houses or farm buildings with the land. Grand construction programms until 1953 were an initial remedy to the problem. The houses that were built, partly completely new settlements, are shaping Brandenburg's town landscapes until today.
Not everyone stayed. Yet the 'resettlers' co-shaped the reconstruction after WWII in Brandenburg. For them, it was a new beginning in two senses: Reconstruction of a destroyed country and the start of a new life in a new homeland.

Refugees from Silesia on their way to their new farmers site near Wriezen in Oderbruch, 3.2.1946 © bpk / US-Army

Shanty house with provisionary barns and pantries in the back for 'resettlers and displaced people, Premnitz, October 1946 © bpk / Herbert Hensky

The 'resettlers' were meagerly sheltered in shacks like these  for a long period of time. They constituted almost 40% of the whole population of Brandenburg province at the end of 1947. In the same year the construction program for new farmers was initiated but progress was slow.  In 1950 many of them did not own house or farm buildings. In order to improve the difficult situation of 'resettlers', aquittals and possibilities of lending machines for agriculture were granted.

Migration in Brandenburg - a historical overview

You can find the introduction text about the migration history in Brandenburg here