(No) Baggage: About things brought along, left behind and newly acquired in the context of flight and expulsion (1945/2015)

Reconstructing the meaning of things (symbolic and identity-creating) in the context of flight and expulsion as well as the concrete use or appropriation of things in everyday life using a biographical approach. The project is one of six thematic areas that constitute the project "Mobile Things, People and Ideas. An eventful history of Lower Austria".

“Mobile People, Things and Ideas”

Mobility is one of the basic constants of human existence and thus, from a historical point of view, one of the most important individual and collective experiences. The mobility of things and ideas goes hand in hand with human relocation, whether voluntary or forced: "Culture" as a dynamic social category and basis of social identity becomes understandable only through the focus on mobility. The project investigates these dynamics in a total of six thematic areas in snapshots over a period of more than 7000 years. For this, among others, objects from the State Collections of Lower Austria as well as institutional collections in the area of today's Lower Austria are used. "Mobile household effects" form the common object pool of all thematic areas.

Thematic area "(No) Baggage 1945/2015" 

Usually, the everyday things we surround ourselves with are hardly questioned. Escape and expulsion, however, are events that shake the self-evident nature of our human-thing relationships. The thematic area analyses the significance household effects - brought, left behind and newly acquired- had and have in the migration process. In addition to the symbolic or identity-forming character of things, the focus is on the concrete handling of things: To what extent were and are they used to redesign everyday life, especially to restore material habits? How were and are things used to position oneself in a new social context, but also in actively establishing a home, continuity and social integration? The change and constancy of object meanings and usage practices comparing 1945/55 and today is scope of the study. Therfore, two temporally divergent flight movements are analysed: The flight and expulsion of the German-speaking population from Czechoslovakia and current flight movements around the year 2015. The Lower Austrian collections contain relevant holdings and objects from both flight movements that serve as a starting point. 


Since things are inextricably linked to people's socio-cultural identity, research into the material dimension of flight and expulsion offers a new perspective on the experiences and feelings of those affected. The chosen approach also makes it possible to make strategies of appropriation and self-location visible. 
The project also offers the opportunity to expand upon the collection's existing holdings by means of contextualized object knowledge. In the best case, new objects can be generated for the collection. The project can thus both contribute to making escape stories visible and to raising awareness of the topic in the museum field.

Link Project Website (in German)


External project manager
PD Dr. Martha Keil (Institute for Jewish History in Austria)
External Staff
Mag. Dieter Bacher (Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Kriegsfolgenforschung)
  • Institute for Jewish History in Austria
  • Institut für Realienkunde des Mittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit der Universität Salzburg, Standort Krems (IMAREAL)
  • Institute of Rural History, St. Pölten (IGLR)
  • Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Kriegsfolgen-Forschung, Standort Raabs an der Thaya (BIK)
  • Museumsmanagement NÖ, St. Pölten
  • MAMUZ Schloss Asparn/Zaya
  • National and international cooperation partners:
  • Center for Museum Collections Management, Danube University Krems
  • Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Frankfurt Project „Mobile Worlds“, Prof. Dr. Hans Peter Hahn
  • Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and The Ethnographic Collection, University Göttingen, Forschungsverbund „Materialität von Flucht und Migration“, Friedemann Neumann M.A.
FTI Programme Lower Austria
02/01/2019 – 01/31/2022
Involved Institutes, Groups and Centers
Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research