Eastern Europe has been a "migration hot spot" since the late 19th century: Initially as a core area of overseas emigration, then of ethnic forced migration after the end of World War I. Emigration during the Cold War was nearly impossible. Today, many countries in this region benefit from the European Union's Freedom of Movement policy.
Jože Krajec was born in 1879 in 
Loški Potok
deu. Laserbach

Loški Potok is a community of almost 2,000 inhabitants in southeastern Slovenia. The community is located in the Dolenjska region, about 90 km south of the Slovenian capital Ljubljana.

, a mountain village in the lower regions of the Habsburg duchy of 
ita. Carniola, hun. Krajna, slv. Kranjska, slv. Dežela Kranjska, deu. Krain

Carniola is a historical landscape in southeastern Central Europe and today belongs to Slovenia. The region fell to the Habsburgs as early as the Middle Ages and became Austrian crown land in 1849. Only in the period of the Napoleonic Wars there was a short period of French rule, when Carniola became one of the so-called Illyrian provinces (1809-1813).

After 1918, Carniola and the wider area of the present-day Slovenian state became part of the newly established Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Historically, the sub-regions of Carniola were mainly Upper Carniola, Inner Carniola and Lower Carniola.

, a traditional region of 
slv. Slovenija, deu. Slowenien

Slovenia is a state in southeastern Central Europe. The territory of the present state came into the possession of the Habsburgs as early as the Middle Ages and was part of Austria-Hungary until World War I, with a brief interruption in Napoleonic times. In 1918, today's Slovenia became part of the newly founded Kingdom of Yugoslavia and after 1945 was part of the now socialist Yugoslavia as the Socialist Republic of Slovenia. Slovenia has been an independent state since 1991 and part of the European Union since 2004.

. In 1893, his family moved to the village of 
Dolga vas
deu. Grafenfeld, deu. Krapfenfeld

Dolga Vas, in German Grafenfeld or Krapfenfeld, is a small village on the Rinža river, southeast of the town Kočevje. The community is located in the former Gottscheer Land, a German language exclave in Slovenia until 1941.

 near the town of 
deu. Gottschee, ita. Cocevie

Gottschee is a town and municipality in the south of Slovenia. It is located in the historical region of Lower Carniola and is inhabited by 16,000 people. The town was the center of the Gottscheer Land, a former German-speaking linguistic island in Slovenia.

   Due to the limited opportunities to earn money in the Gottschee region, Jože Krajec went several times – like many other subjects of the Habsburg Monarchy at this time, men and women alike – to find work in America. Here he would work as a lumberjack, an occupation he pursued at home as well. His periods of emigration never lasted long, and each time he returned home, he conceived another child. He had nine children in total, seven daughters and two sons. After World War I, when Gottschee was added to the Kingdom of the Serbians, Croatians, and Slovenians (also known as 
srp. Југославија, hrv. Jugoslavija, deu. Jugoslawien, slv. Jugoslavija, sqi. Jugosllavia

Yugoslavia was a southeastern European state that existed, with interruptions and in slightly changing borders, from 1918 to 1992 and 2003, respectively. The capital and largest city of the country was Belgrade. Historically, a distinction is made in particular between the period of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia from 1918 to 1941 (also called 'First Yugoslavia') and communist Yugoslavia from 1945 (the so-called 'Second Yugoslavia') under the dictatorial ruling head of state Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980). The disintegration of Yugoslavia from 1991 and the independence aspirations of several parts of the country eventually led to the Yugoslav Wars (also called the Balkan Wars or post-Yugoslav Wars). Today, the successor states of Yugoslavia are Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 from 1929), three of his daughters emigrated to North America. Another daughter became a nun and lived in various monasteries in Yugoslavia. The other children initially remained in the region.
One of Jože's sons, who was also called Jože, married Frieda Klun from the neighboring village of 
deu. Lienfeld, deu. Lilienfeld

Livold is a village southeast of the city Kočevje in southern Slovenia. The river Rinža, which is important for the region of Lower Carniola, flows through the village.

 in 1934. While Jože's native tongue was Slovenian, his wife belonged to the German-speaking minority in Gottschee. When Italian forces occupied the region in 1941, the German-speaking people of Gottschee, now also known as “Volksdeutsche” in the regional dialect, were relocated "back home" to the Reich by the National Socialist occupiers, in this case to Nazi-occupied Styria. The Krajec family – Jože and Frieda had by this time had two children – joined the relocation process. However, as an “ethnically mixed” family, they were considered too unreliable to secure the borders of the German Reich against the threat of Slavism. Thus, they ventured into rural East Hesse, also called “Altreich” (Old Reich), in 1943. There they lived out the end of the war, far removed from the bombs and battles, and eventually settled down permanently.
The remaining “Volksdeutsche” of Gottschee, among them Frieda's sister Anna, did not fare as well. Following the end of the war in 1945, they were forced out of the country and into 
deu. Österreich

Austria is a country in Central Europe populated by about 8.9 million people. The capital of the country is Vienna.

 by the victorious Yugoslavian partisans. Anna stayed in Graz for several years and survived by taking on the occasional job. However, as permanent settlement seemed to be out of reach – Austria did not easily grant citizenship to “volksdeutsche” settlers and expellees – Anna relied on the tried and tested method of emigration. The fact that her brother Alois had emigrated to the USA between the wars proved to be a welcome boon, as he could now serve as her advocate. In 1950, she followed him to New York and remained for the rest of her life in the USA.
Overseas emigration
The fates of these individuals illustrate certain characteristic elements of Eastern Europe's migration history during the period from the end of the 19th century until the end of World War II. Here, Eastern Europe primarily describes the geographical region that was controlled by the 
deu. Österreich-Ungarn, deu. Donaumonarchie, deu. Doppelmonarchie, deu. Habsburgerreich, deu. Habsburgisches Reich, deu. Habsburgermonarchie, hun. Osztrák-Magyar Birodalom, eng. Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy, eng. Austrian-Hungarian Empire

Austria-Hungary (Hungarian: Osztrák-Magyar Monarchia), also known as Imperial and Royal Hungary Monarchy, was a historical state in Central and Southeastern Europe that existed from 1867 to 1918.

 and the 
Russian Empire
rus. Росси́йская импе́рия, rus. Rossijskaja imperija, deu. Russisches Kaiserreich, deu. Russländisches Reich, deu. Russländisches Kaiserreich

The Russian Empire (also Russian Empire or Empire of Russia) was a state that existed from 1721 to 1917 in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and North America. The country was the largest contiguous empire in modern history in the mid-19th century. It was dissolved after the February Revolution in 1917. The state was regarded as autocratically ruled and was inhabited by about 181 million people.

 (also partly by the 
Ottoman Empire
tur. Osmanlı İmparatorluğu, deu. Osmanisches Reich, deu. Ottomanisches Reich

The Ottoman Empire was the state of the Ottoman dynasty from about 1299 to 1922. The name derives from the founder of the dynasty, Osman I. The successor state of the Ottoman Empire is the Republic of Turkey.

 and the 
German Reich
deu. Deutsches Reich

The German Empire was a state in Central Europe that existed from 1871 to 1945. The period from its founding until 1918 is called the German Empire, then followed the period of the Weimar Republic (1918/1919-1933) and the National Socialism (so-called Third Reich) from 1933 to 1945. 01.01.1871 is considered the day of the foundation of the German Reich.

) until 1918 and, following the end of World War I, eventually dissolved into several national states. This major geographical region became somewhat of a hot spot of overseas emigration from the 1880s. For example, over 3.5 million subjects of the Habsburg Monarchy migrated to the USA before World War I – not always permanently, as the case of Jože Krajec Sr. demonstrates. Emigrants from the Habsburg Empire mainly came from poor agricultural regions like Carniola (Slovenia), 
deu. Galizien, yid. גאַליציע‎, yid. Galitsiye, ron. Halici, ron. Galiția, hun. Halics, hun. Gácsország, hun. Kaliz, hun. Galícia, ces. Halič, slk. Halič, rus. Галиция, rus. Galizija, ukr. Галичина, ukr. Halytschyna, pol. Galicja

Galicia is a historical landscape, which today is almost entirely located on the territory of Poland and Ukraine. The part in southeastern Poland is usually referred to as Western Galicia, and the part in western Ukraine as Eastern Galicia. Before 1772, Galicia belonged for centuries to the Polish-Lithuanian noble republic, and subsequently and until 1918 - as part of the crown land "Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria" - to the Habsburg Empire.

slk. Slovensko, deu. Slowakei

Slovakia is a country in Central Europe, which is lived in by about 5.5 million people. The capital of the country is Bratislava (Pressburg). Slovakia has been independent since 1993. Before that it was part of Czechoslovakia for several decades.

hun. Szlavónia, lat. Slavonia, hrv. Slavonija, deu. Slavonien, deu. Slawonien

Slavonia is a historical landscape in today's eastern Croatia. It can be geographically located between southern Hungary and Bosnia. In the east, Slavonia borders the Danube and the border with Serbia. The historical landscape is inhabited by about 860,000 people. Osijek is the largest city in Slavonia.

, and
ita. Dalmazia, srp. Далмација, hrv. Dalmacija, deu. Dalmatien

Dalmatia is a historical region in the south of Croatia and western Montenegro. It is on the Adriatic Sea and is inhabited by about 850,000 people. Most of Dalmatia is located in modern Croatia and is one of the four regions of the country.

. They were as ethnically colorful as the Empire itself: Among them were Poles, Ruthenians (Ukrainians), Slovaks, Slovenes, Croats, Jews as well as German-speaking subjects of the Kaiser, like the Gottschee population. During this period, an estimated 2.7 million people emigrated from the Russian Empire, in particular members of ethnic minorities from the western territories. These included Poles and Germans, but most were Jews, who were driven in large numbers to emigrate to the USA due to poverty and pogroms. Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians migrated predominantly within the Empire to Siberia, which was made more accessible during the development of the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Ethnicity and (forced) migration
The role of ethnicity is a second motif that is important for Eastern Europe's migration history. It was a factor that often decided who was allowed to migrate and who was forced to. The fact that Jews, Poles, and Germans, in particular, had to leave Russia was no coincidence: Although the Russian Empire did not let its subjects emigrate on principle, the authorities often allowed its allegedly disloyal minorities to leave. So too did the government of the reinstated 
deu. Polen, pol. Polska

Poland is a state in Central Eastern Europe and is home to approximately 38 million people. The country is the sixth largest member state of the European Union. The capital and biggest city of Poland is Warsaw. Poland is made up of 16 voivodships. The largest river in the country is the Vistula (Polish: Wisła).

 in 1918 support the emigration of its Jewish citizens with the intent to bolster the numbers of Catholic Poles in the population and thereby to maintain the country's "ethno-demographics". Meanwhile, the USA repeatedly introduced immigration restrictions for Eastern European states, motivated by stereotypical perceptions about the alleged retardation and poverty of the ethnocultural groups living there, the Jews in particular.
In addition, ethnicity predominantly formed the basis for many forced migrations in the region over the course of the 20th century. Beginning in 1938, Nazi Germany conducted a massive ethnic cleansing operation as part of its imperial expansion. “Volksdeutsche” minorities, like the Gottschee population, as well as Baltic-Germans and Bessarabia Germans, among others, were forced to leave their home regions and were relocated elsewhere. The Gottschee population was relocated to Lower Styria; the remaining “Volksdeutsche” were sent to the so-called
Reichsgau Wartheland
pol. Okręg Warcki, pol. Okręg Rzeszy Kraj Warty, deu. Warthegau, deu. Wartheland, deu. Reichsgau Posen

The Reichsgau Wartheland, also known as Warthegau, was a Nazi administrative district in occupied Poland that existed from 1939 to 1945. The Reichsgau was in large parts congruent with the historical landscape of Wielkopolska and had 4.5 million inhabitants. The capital was today's Poznań.

The almost six-year occupation period was characterized by the brutal persecution and murder of the Polish and Jewish population on the one hand and the targeted resettlement of German-speaking parts of the population on the other.

Image: „Map of the administrative division of the German Eastern Territories and the General Government of the occupied Polish territories as of March 1940“. Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe – Institute of the Leibniz Association, map collection, inventory no. K 32 II L 43, edited by Copernico (2022). CC0 1.0.

, or occupied Poland. Relocation was always accompanied by displacement: In order to make room for the Gottschee population, the Slovenes were forced out; to make room for resettled people in Warthegau, the Poles were forced out; to make room for the Poles, the Jews, in turn, were forced out. The historian Götz Aly (1995) describes this domino effect of displacements as one of the propelling forces behind the Holocaust. 
This domino effect continued after the war: The previously privileged Germans were now themselves victims of displacement, initiated by the reinstated sovereign nation states, with approval of the Allied Forces. This “disentanglement of populations”, as Winston Churchill called it, was not limited to the Germans. It concerned the ethnic Poles from what now became Soviet-Polish regions in the East, who were, in turn, relocated to former German Eastern regions. Eastern Europe, which was previously characterized by its ethnic diversity, was thus violently "disentangled" in order to create national states that were as homogeneous as possible. 
In addition, millions of people of various origins were sent from their homes by the Nazi occupiers to do forced labor. After the war, many of them were to be found in the German Reich. Those who did not return to their home countries were placed under the supervision of the international community as Displaced Persons (DPs). These included Jewish survivors of the concentration camps as well as East European Nazi collaborators, who had fled from the now communist regimes. The “resettlement” of all these people continued for years, as few countries were willing to take them in. The roots of today’s international migration and refugee management institutions were established in the context of this historical refugee crisis. Thus, migration from Eastern Europe, in time, gained global significance.
Migration and forced non-migration
After World War II, a new phase of migration history in Eastern Europe began. Although the region had been hitherto greatly shaped by emigration, in the wake of Stalinization at the end of the 1940s a more strict migration regime was adopted, making legal emigration virtually impossible in almost all countries of Eastern Europe – with the exception of Yugoslavia. Thus, several decades of economically motivated emigrations and a decade of forced migration were succeeded by an enforced stop on migration in the state socialist regime. The relevant keyword here would be “Iron Curtain”, which presented an obstacle that prevented people from emigrating both administratively and physically.
However, this was another case where ethnicity was of importance, as exceptions to this strict emigration ban were only made for ethnic minorities, if at all. In countries like Poland, 
deu. Rumänien, ron. România

Romania is a country in southeastern Europe with a population of almost 20 million people. The capital of the country is Bucharest. The state is situated directly on the Black Sea, the Carpathian Mountains and borders Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Ukraine and Moldova. Romania was established in 1859 from the merger of Moldova and Wallachia. Romania is home to Transylvania, the central region for the German minority there.

, and the 
Soviet Union
deu. Sowjetunion, rus. Sovetskiy Soyuz, rus. Советский Союз

The Soviet Union (SU or USSR, Russian: Союз Советских Социалистических Республик (СССР) was a state in Eastern Europe, Central and Northern Asia existing from 1922 to 1991. The USSR was inhabited by about 290 million people and formed the largest territorial state in the world, with about 22.5 million square km. The Soviet Union was a socialist soviet republic with a one-party system.

, these were primarily Germans and Jews. They were able to find admission in their respective “countries of ethnic origin” of Germany (mostly West, sometimes East Germany) and Israel, which was founded in 1948. This so-called co-ethnic migration was a different form of “disentanglement”, utilizing different means. Emigration was mostly conducted as part of family reunion, although this term was interpreted rather liberally: in times of restrictions, even close relatives in other countries were not considered adequate cause to be granted permission to leave the country, while, in times where such restrictions did not exist, family reunion was possible, even if no relatives lived outside the country at all, as proven by the historian Dariusz Stola, who used Poland as an example. In other words, the country that lay beyond the borders and with which the ethnic minorities identified itself became a kind of “surrogate family”.
During the decades of the Cold War, co-ethnic migration was the most significant legal option for leaving Eastern Europe. The exception was Yugoslavia, which allowed its inhabitants to leave at will. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of Yugoslavians, both male and female, traveled to Western and Northern Europe as “Gastarbeiter”, or foreign workers, and often stayed there as well. Emigration from the other nations only became a mass phenomenon after the reforms in the mid-1980s. Once again, it was primarily members of ethnic minorities who decided to leave, as it was specifically these people who easily found admission in the West: Germans in the Federal Republic of Germany, Jews in Israel, the USA, and also Germany, which took them in as so called “Quota refugees“ “Quota refugees“ Contingent refugees are people who obtain their refugee status not through an individual procedure, but by belonging to a group of which a certain number are admitted for humanitarian reasons. as of 1991.
Migration after the fall of the "Iron Curtain"
These millions of emigrants during the late phase of socialism and the early phase of the following transformation period meant a continuation of the tradition of East-West-migration, which had been largely disrupted by the “Iron Curtain”. Naturally, the old xenophobic reflexes of the Western nations and communities resurfaced. Although co-ethnic migrants were taken in, the fear of mass immigration from Eastern Europe began to spread. Within the context of the inclusion of most Eastern European nations into the European Union in 2004, migration became a highly sensitive topic, as EU-citizens usually enjoy freedom of movement throughout all parts of the Union. Countries like Germany decided to withhold this right to complete freedom of movement from their newly arrived citizens of Eastern European origin for a transition period of seven years. Thus many of them, Poles in particular, left for Great Britain and Ireland, to which they had unrestricted access. Meanwhile, emigration from (almost) all Eastern European EU-countries – from Poland as well as the Baltic States, 
hun. Magyarország, deu. Ungarn

Hungary is a country in Central Europe, whose capital is Budapest. The country is home to about 10 million people and was part of the so-called Habsburg Empire for several centuries. Hungary has been a member of the European Union since 01.05.2004. The Danube is the largest river in the country.

, Romania, and 
bul. Bŭlgariya, bul. България, deu. Bulgarien

Bulgaria is a South-Eastern European country and is inhabited by about 7 million people. Sofia is the capital of the republic and the largest city in the country. Bulgaria is situated on the Black Sea in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The largest rivers in the country include the Danube and Maritsa.

 – has developed a mass character. For the Brexit campaign, the freedom of movement for Eastern and Southeastern Europeans was again a central motivating factor for leaving the EU.
Internal Migration and Deportation in the Soviet Union
Although migration is often simply considered a transnational movement of people, the example of Eastern Europe conclusively highlights the significance of internal migration. Russia, or more specifically the Soviet Union, proves to be an impressive example. As mentioned earlier, this was the case for the colonization of Siberia even before World War I. The country’s industrialization through Soviet Power consequently caused massive population movements in the 1920s and 1930s. At the same time, the Soviet regime proved to be one of the primary perpetrators of forced migration. The initial deportation of “Klassenfeinde” (class enemies) – for example, the “kulaks“ “kulaks“ Kulak is a Russian-language term for a large-scale farmer, which had pejorative connotations in the Soviet Union but was never clearly defined. Many comparatively wealthy, or even just self-employed farmers were murdered or deported to penal camps under Stalinism as kulaks and thus "class enemies". – but also, increasingly, of entire ethnic groups (like Koreans, Volga Germans, Chechens, Greeks, Crimean Tatars, et al.) to Siberia was characteristic for the time until the end of “Stalinism“ “Stalinism“ Stalinism refers to the form of socialism/communism practiced under Stalin, characterized by particular harshness toward political opponents and suspects, forced collectivization, and industrialization. . Afterwards, many of those people were unable to return to their homelands and consequently settled in the “Neulandgebiete”, or “new territories”, of Kazakhstan as well as the other Central Asian republics. Following the independence of those republics in 1991, the area was affected by what may be referred to as "segregation migration".
English translation: William Connor

Siehe auch