Rapports au territoire et au patrimoine dans un contexte d'après-guerre : tourisme de retour d'expulsés allemands

Authors: Bierwerth, Gesa
Advisor: Saidi, Habib
Abstract: This dissertation deals with the personal links of German expellees of the Second Word War and their descendants with the territory concerned and its cultural heritage. These links are examined in the context of shifts of borders and populations, post-war tensions and more recent developments in and between Germany and the States of East-Central Europe. This study focuses on the return of the German expellees as tourists to their places of origin in Eastern Europe. It is based on ethnological research in tourist groups whose place of origin and travel destination is East Prussia, a former German province. East Prussia is one of the territories lost by Germany in 1945. The German inhabitants of the region flee or are expelled. Henceforth, the province is divided into a Polish, a Russian and a Lithuanian part. The new populations suddenly emerge as the heirs to their enemy’s cultural heritage whose administration turns out to be problematic. During the Cold War the places of origin remain inaccessible to the former German inhabitants and the German cultural heritage literally disappears behind the Iron Curtain. Due to the collapse of the Eastern bloc starting in 1989, these territories become accessible again. Since then expellees have been travelling to their places of origin as tourists. They undertake organised tours in order to find their childhood homes and to discover the area as well as its cultural heritage about which they generally know rather little. In fact, the discovery of cultural heritage sites is central to the guided trips. It is the aim of this dissertation to examine in what way the experience of tourism in combination with cultural heritage affects the relationship of the expellees as well as their children and grandchildren with the past, the territory and its cultural heritage. In particular, the analysis focuses on the interpretation of the cultural heritage by the guides and its effect on tourists. The guides perform a heritagization “from below” and illustrate the direct lineage between the tourists and the people who cultivated the land in the course of the centuries. Hence, they contribute to the creation of new representations of the past for the tourists beyond their personal biographies. Homesickness tourism extends the territory of identification, namely from the childhood home to the area visited. At last, the collective dimension of the relationship of the expellees with the past, the cultural heritage and the homeland is reinforced. Homesickness tourism is positive in several aspects. It engenders a process of reflexion which leads to a disposition towards reconciliation with the present inhabitants of East Prussia, which is also beneficial for the cultural heritage.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2019
Open Access Date: 12 April 2019
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/34427
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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