Millions of former German soldiers (known as Heimkehrer, literally "homecomers," or returnees) returned from captivity as prisoners of war at the end of the Second World War, an experience that had profound effects on German society and touched almost every German family. Based on extensive archival research and oral history interviews, this book provides the first comprehensive analysis of the history of the German returnees, explored as a history of memory, both during Germany's division and after unification. At its core lies the question of how the experiences of war captivity were transformed into individual and collective memories. The book argues that memory of the experience of captivity and return is complex and multilayered and has been shaped by postwar political and social frameworks.
Christiane Wienand is a historian and works in Heidelberg, Germany. She holds a PhD in History from University College London.