Refuge – Confidence – Future

“Remembering brings salvation […] and forgetting brings exile.”
Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, known as Baal Schem Tov

Refuge – Confidence – Future

Over twelve million German refugees and displaced persons have to find a new home after the end of the Second World War.

With the advance of the Red Army at the end of the war, it’s not only German soldiers who are pushed back. The civilian population is also forced to leave their homes in the “eastern areas of the Reich” and to flee.

On the offensive in 1945, allied troops in the West and the East press forward and finally put an end to the crimes committed in the name of National Socialist ideology and to the Second World War.

The fugitives seek refuge

With the end of the war, refugees and displaced persons from Pomerania, West and East Prussia, Silesia, the Sudetenland and Wartheland, the Baltic States, Bessarabia, Galicia and other regions of the former Eastern territories come to the small town of Essenrode in Lower Saxony. In the following years, people from the Soviet-occupied part of Germany and later the German Democratic Republic (GDR) also flee to Essenrode. The population of the village almost doubles.

After the war there is confidence

There is a roof over one’s head, food again and, in time, work. Families that were separated by war are getting back together. New families are founded, houses are built and a new life begins.

The future can come

On these pages, we trace individual fates, present post-war biographies, and describe personal experiences – stories of refuge and confidence and future.

We believe that an engagement with the past and with its integration of the past makes it possible to shape the future freely and unencumbered. With the stories of flight and displacement, the accompanying exhibition, and the documentary film presented on these pages, we would like to make a contribution to the future and invite you to open yourself to this possibility as well.

Thank you

Our special thanks go to all the people who have entrusted their experiences to us as contemporary witnesses and to all those who have contributed to making the experiences tangible for future generations. It gives us the opportunity to listen sincerely to them and what they have to say to us, and to share what we have experienced with each other – for a better future.

Our thanks for the financial support of the project “Refuge – Confidence – Future” go to Braunschweigische Sparkassen Foundation, Gahnz-Fondation, Foundation Braunschweigischer Kulturbesitz as well as to the Bürgerverein Essenrode e. V. and the local council of Essenrode.