Happy holidays

Donnerstag, 21. Dezember 2023

Dear visitors and friends of the Documentation Centre Displacement, Expulsion, Reconciliation,

We look back on a year characterised by devastating wars and conflicts, but also full of commitment and hope. May the festive season bring a little more peace and quiet and may the coming year be filled with new opportunities. We wish you a peaceful festive season with your loved ones and look forward to seeing you again next year.


In March 1949, the Schäfer family was deported from the Memel region, which became part the Lithuanian Soviet Republic in 1945, to Siberia. Their son Gerd-Helmut was barely a year old at the time, and two older half-siblings had been missing since the end of the war. The Schäfers worked on a collective farm in the timber industry for almost ten years. In 1958, they were finally allowed to leave the Soviet Union for West Germany. The Red Cross Tracing Service helped to locate Gerd-Helmut Schäfer's siblings in Poland. In 1965, the Schäfer family was able to celebrate Christmas together for the first time.

If you would like to find out more about the history of Gerd-Helmut Schäfer, visit our permanent exhibition and the contemporary witness archive.

If you would like to see the historical photo template and the animated version of the graphic, visit our social media channels.