The project of a 'Centre against Expulsions' proposed in 2000 by the German Union of Expellees in order to commemorate the fate of some 12 million Germans who fled or were forced to leave Central and Eastern Europe in and after 1945 caused a fierce Polish-German media controversy with a fourfold result: (1) The governments in Warsaw and Berlin together with the ones in Bratislava and Budapest agreed in 2004 to found the 'European Network Remembrance and Solidarity' in order to deal with the tragic history of Europe in the 20th century in a consensual way; (2) the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe proposed to set up a 'European Remembrance Centre of Victims of Forced Population Movements and Ethnic Cleansing' in 2005; (3) in 2007, the Polish government decided to found a 'Museum of the Second World War' in Gdansk with the aim to put the Polish view on recent history into a European context; and in 2008 the German government erected a federal Foundation 'Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation' in Berlin which was tasked to design a permanent exhibition on the fate of the expelled Germans again in the context of Europe's 20th century history. Whereas more often than not the national memories of Germans, Poles and other Europeans clash over World War II and its consequences, the very fact that in Central Europe a bilateral or multilateral discourse on these sensitive topics is feasible is a remarkable post-1989 improvement.
Stefan Troebst is a historian by training and since 1999 professor of East European cultural studies at the University of Leipzig as well as deputy director of the Leipzig Centre for the History and Culture of East-Central Europe (GWZO). Previously, he has been founding director of the Danish-German European Centre for Minority Issues in Flensburg, member of the OSCE missions to Moldova and Macedonia and associate professor of contemporary East European history at the Free University of Berlin. Among his recent publications are Culture of Remembrance, Cultural History, Historical Regions. East-Central Europe in Europe (2013, in German), The Macedonian Century. From the Beginning of the National-Revolutionary Movement to the Ohrid Agreement, 1893-2001 (2007,in German), and Radical Ethnic Movements in Contemporary Europe (2003, co-editied with Farimah Daftary).