Families can be deeply affected and moved by stories about where they came from – and the stories and fates of those who escaped are still very much alive today. Many children and grandchildren carry the memories and traumas of their ancestors with them. HAUS SCHLESIEN addresses this issue and has dedicated an annual seminar to the experiences, memories and perceptions of expellees and their descendants.
Having grown up with stories “from the homeland”, or perhaps just with an undefinable feeling of not belonging, many people today still carry the memories and traumas of a displaced parent or grandparent. These events have also left traces in the lives of the generation that experienced them and often continue to shape their lives and affect their families at an unconscious level. Even for those who were born in the “new homeland” and do not have their own memories of 
deu. Schlesien, ces. Slezsko, pol. Śląsk

Silesia (Polish: Śląsk, Czech: Slezsko) is a historical landscape, which today is mainly located in the extreme southwest of Poland, but in parts also on the territory of Germany and the Czech Republic. By far the most significant river is the Oder. To the south, Silesia is bordered mainly by the Sudeten and Beskid mountain ranges. Today, almost 8 million people live in Silesia. The largest cities in the region are Wrocław, Opole and Katowice. Before 1945, most of the region was part of Prussia for two hundred years, and before the Silesian Wars (from 1740) it was part of the Habsburg Empire for almost as many years. Silesia is classified into Upper and Lower Silesia.

, a parent’s experiences of escape or feelings of foreignness in their new home will often be passed down to younger generations as a kind of presence. Through the stories that are told and retold, they are familiar with the landscape, people and family stories and certain behaviors and fears, which developed out of the experience of being uprooted, and which can, in part, be “inherited”, even by grandchildren.
More than 25 percent of Germans claim that they themselves or a family member were among the German expellees. In other words, in around a quarter of all German families, memories of escape and expulsion are present in one way or another. Some families have kept silent about these experiences – younger generations have hardly been told about them and people have tried to repress their feelings of suffering and loss. In other families, these experiences have been talked about, a lot and often, in order to process them and keep the memory alive. Depending on individual experiences, family situations, age and the way people were received in their new home, the confrontation with the past took very different forms. For everyone, however, one thing was equally true: being driven away from their homeland represented a turning point in their own biographies and had a decisive influence on their future lives – and thus also on the lives of those born after them. In the dichotomy between having family roots in Silesia and a new life in the Federal Republic or in the GDR, the question of origin, homeland and identity continue to concern the descendants of those were expelled in a particularly deep and affecting way. 
The seminar program organized by HAUS SCHLESIEN and the Cultural Advisor for Upper Silesia explores the experiences and insights of families forced to flee or driven from their homes, using the forced escape situation from Silesia as an example. Specialist lectures by researchers and authors deal with different aspects of this topic and lay a solid foundation for the subsequent rounds of discussions. On the basis of the knowledge imparted during these talks, attendees are given the opportunity to comprehend and analyze not only the situation of the generation that experienced the events, but also their own experiences. Above all, however, this exchange can help people to come to terms with their own family stories and with the feelings of homelessness and to gain some understanding about their own behavior patterns.
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