A thorough history of East Prussia during and after World War II.
Clark (New Look at Exchange Rate Volatility and Trade Flows, 2004) moves away from economics with this history. East Prussia was, until the end of World War II, part of Germany. While its earlier conquerors simply absorbed the region’s inhabitants, 20th-century Soviet and Polish rulers instead exercised a policy of ethnic cleansing. During World War II, East Prussia largely avoided the violence that plagued the heart of Germany, but the region eventually saw a Red Army invasion in 1944, accompanied by widespread rape and pillaging. After the war concluded, Allied leaders agreed that this region of Germany should be annexed, with the southern two-thirds of the region given to Poland and the remainder to the Soviet Union. Prussians in the Polish section were forcibly removed from their homes; those in the Soviet-controlled territory were exploited as forced laborers before being expelled. Clark balances recorded political history with eyewitness accounts that put a human face on events. For example, Clark relates Hannelore Schwokowski’s heartbreaking story, from her memoir, of the events that led to the death of her mother, Lotte, at age 47. The book is heavily researched, drawing on previous historical volumes and primary source documents. That said, this isn’t a completely unbiased account; Clark acknowledges that his wife’s East Prussian background inspired him to write the book, and his sympathies definitely lie with this population when he describes an expulsion that “was hardly orderly or humane.”
A clearly written, extensively researched book and an important contribution to World War II history.