The foreign policy of the German sudeten council and Hans-Christoph Seebohm, 1956-1964

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Recent historical studies on the organizations of German expellees and their influence on West German political culture highlight the insincere attitude and deception by the whole West German political establishment toward the expellee politicians and activists and their cause. One study in this field is Matthias Stickler's important book "Ostdeutsch heißt Gesamtdeutsch," and a more recent one by Manfred Kittel, Vertreibung der Vertriebenen?, takes Stickler's thesis even further. It creates the impression that the expellee organizations, highly dependent on the government for financial and political support, had no option in this matter and were even helpless in that they had to accept the noncommittal rhetoric and the West German government's unwillingness to obligate West Germany for their cause. In this article, I probe this portrayal of the expellee politicians and activists as objects rather than subjects of German politics by inquiring into the political and public relations activities of the German Sudeten Council (Sudetendeutscher Rat) in the field of foreign policy during and around the tenure of Hans-Christoph Seebohm as the leader (Sprecher) of the German Sudeten Expellee Homeland Society (Landsmannschaft) (1959-1967). The Sudeten Council is a non-party association; one half of its members are elected by the federal assembly of the German Sudeten Landsmannschaft and the other half by the political parties of the Bundestag. As well as being a politician of the expellee organization, Hans-Christoph Seebohm pursued the longest political career in the German federal cabinet-seventeen years. He served as Minister of Transportation and Mail of the Federal Republic from 1949 to 1966 under Chancellors Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard. To date, no monographic work has been written about Seebohm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-483
Number of pages20
JournalCentral European History
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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