Refugees and the Radical Right: Evidence from Post-WWII Forced Migrations
Do refugees reshape long-term political behavior in receiving areas? To investigate this question, I examine the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe into West Germany at the end of WWII. Expellees were strangers to the cultural practices in their new surroundings. Tensions with natives forced expellees to rely on each other and helped foster a strong group identity. I argue that this shared identity, coupled with political circumstances specific to Germany, engendered support for the radical right among expellees. Using district-level data from 32 elections spanning 100 years, I find that communities which received greater shares of expellees remain more supportive of the radical right in the short, medium, and long term. This legacy of forced migration responds to changes in the political context within Germany, and is driven primarily by districts that received greater shares of expellees who were not citizens of the Reich during the interwar period.