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Dr. Arvid Schors

Chair for International History and Historical Peace and Conflict Research

Assistant Professor (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter)

Department of History
50923 Cologne



Research Project:


Soldiers, Occupiers, “Lucky Victims”. German-Speaking Emigrants in the Ranks of the Allies, 1939-1955

This second book project focuses on a highly understudied group of Allied soldiers that played an important role for the transition from war to peace and for post-war order in Germany and Austria since 1944. Ten thousand of these German-speaking emigrants, born since around 1915 in Germany and Austria, had to leave their countries of origin as young men owing to Nazi persecution. Yet later on, they became soldiers in the U.S. and the British military, going through a remarkable process of transition themselves. While they had been stigmatised as outsiders in their countries of origin and had become powerless victims of their exile, the occupation allowed them to return wearing the uniform of the victors. As a result, and in light of their special knowledge and language skills, they acquired influential roles within the occupation. In this brief time span, these “lucky victims” evolved from powerless bystanders of their own fate to influential actors with personal agency. As a distinctive group they exceptionally impersonate and biographically interconnect the two antithetic halves of the 20th century.

Designed as collective biography, the project takes into account both individual experiences and historical effects: On the one hand, regarding the emigrants’ military service questions of mental baggage and abilities as well as expectations and experiences over time occupy center stage. On the other hand, for the period of occupation the attention centers on the concrete actions of the emigrants and their influence on their countries of origin. From an analytical vantage point the emigrants make it also possible to broaden the perspective on the Allied occupation by explicitly integrating transnational dimensions.


Philosophikum, 3rd floor, room 3.106
Phone:  0221-470 5253