Andreas Kossert is a research fellow at the Federal Foundation Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation in Berlin since January 2010. In addition, he teaches German history in the German School at Middlebury College since 2011. After studying history, political science, and Slavonic studies in Freiburg, Edinburgh, and Bonn, he completed his doctoral thesis at the Free University of Berlin in 2000. He worked as a research fellow at the German Historical Institute in Warsaw from 2001 to the end of 2009, from 2004 also as deputy director. Specialized on Central European history, Kossert has published widely on nationalism, borderlands, ethnic and religious minorities, forced migration, displacement, and refugees. His publications include Masuren: Ostpreußens vergessener Süden, Ostpreußen. Geschichte und Mythos, and Kalte Heimat. Die Geschichte der deutschen Vertriebenen nach 1945.


Uprootedness: Refugee narratives and the question of belonging

Homelessness was an experience for more than 14 million German refugees after 1945. Their arrival changed the shape of German society in dramatic dimensions, contributing to secularization, modernization and urbanization. But those ethnic German refugees arrived at a Cold Home, facing an unwelcoming and even hostile reception by their fellow Germans. Nonetheless, until recently, the master-narrative praised a so-called successful integration, but this only shows a very materialistic understanding. I want to use the German case, trying to provide answers to universal patterns of integration and assimilation closely linked with questions of belonging. Forced displacement questions the certainty of a protected space. Refugee worlds mean turmoil and disarray. Certainties wane. Refugee stories of forced displacement are elementary global experiences and, yet, hardly any other topic seems more controversial and polarizing. Uprootedness and belonging, a vicious circle in refugees’ lives: What means home, where is home and, finally, where do I belong?

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