Stefanie M. Woodard (Krull)
BA in History and German, Oklahoma State University, 2011
MA, Emory University, 2015
Modern Germany & Poland
Nationalism & Ethnicity
“The Latecomers”: Resettlers from Poland & their Integration into West Germany, 1970-1990
My scholarship focuses on the entanglement of ethnicity, migration, and diplomacy in twentieth-century Central Europe. My dissertation, “The Latecomers: German ‘Resettlers’ from Poland & their Integration into West Germany, 1970-1990,” examines the enduring presence of ethnic German identity in Silesia, a western Polish borderland, and how this identity evolved through contact with and migration to West Germany. Historically designated as nationally indifferent or ethnically ambiguous, Silesians found themselves at the center of a Cold War struggle over ethnicity and memory. Whereas the Polish government downplayed or denied the Silesians’ German heritage, West German authorities cast these borderlanders as the last victims of World War II and as “sufferers for Germanness.” When emigration became possible in the 1970s and 1980s, many Silesians leveraged any ties to West Germany to secure exit visas. Through interviews and extensive archival research, I demonstrate that resettlers found themselves at the center of a struggle over memory, nationality, and territorial sovereignty, even as they used ethnic rhetoric to further their own emigration aims. By interpreting this migration process through its Cold War context, my project reveals how an ethnically-coded conflict over victimhood and memory shaped West German-Polish relations.
My research has been generously supported by a number of organizations, including the Free University Berlin, the German Historical Institute (Warsaw), and the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe.