Skip to main content

Holle Schneider Ricks Collection

Identifier: USCU-ARUP-2020-0003

Scope and Contents

The Schneider Ricks Collection contains materials used to research and write the book Voices of loss and courage: German women recount their expulsion from East Central Europe, 1944-1950 by Brigitte U. Neary and Holle Schneider-Ricks, published in 2002. The collection includes correspondence in the form of email printouts and typed or handwritten letters. Correspondence was between Schneider-Ricks and interviewees for the book. There was also correspondence between the two authors, their publisher, and others. The collection also contains cassette tapes, floppy disks, materials used in research, and administrative items.


  • 1998 - 2002


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Please contact the archives at or 864-503-5648 to schedule a research appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status undetermined. For more information, contact Archives and Special Collections at the University of South Carolina Upstate. Learn More (

Biographical / Historical

After World War I, the Treaty of Versailles ceded land in several, but not all, German territories back to Poland. However, many pockets of ethnic Germans stayed in those territories. During World War II, Germany reclaimed and settled those territories. Towards the end of World War II, however, with the Red Army advancing, Germans in those territories began to evacuate. In 1944-1950, those who remained were forced to leave by local authorities. While the total number of Germans who left or were killed is not known, it is estimated to have been around 14.5 million. This mass expulsion was called Vertreibung. Even though this was the largest mass migration seen in the modern era, few people have heard of it. Migration was largely the responsibility of women as many men were serving in the military or were killed in the war. The women and their families were subject to abuse, rape, and deprivation as they made their way back to Germany. More than two million died on the way. In 1998, Holle Schneider-Ricks and Brigitte U. Neary interviewed a number of German women survivors who were forced to leave their homes during the Vertreibung. They found funding for their project with an internal University scholarly research award. Together, they interviewed about 50 women and translated the interviews into English. Thirty were included in the book they published: Voices of Loss and Courage, published by Picton Press in 2002. The authors are considering publishing another 20 on the Web.

Holle Schneider-Ricks was born in the Sudeten area of Czechloslovakia in 1944. In 1946 when she was two years old, her family was displaced from the Sudeten area and made their way to Germany. She grew up in post-war Germany, but was stigmatized by the label of refugee. At the age of 20, she emigrated to the United States. She received her Bachelors of Arts in 1983 and her MLS in 1985, both from the University of Maryland. She worked as a translator and a librarian before coming to the University of South Carolina, Spartanburg in 1993. Schneider Ricks retired from USC Upstate as a Librarian and Assistant Dean of the Library. She compiled the materials in this collection related to the research, writing, and publishing of the book.

Brigitte U. Neary is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Sociology in the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences. She was born in West Germany after her parents were forced to flee their home in Poland. She retired from the University of South Carolina Upstate. Neary completed her Ph.D. from Duke University in 1993. Her teaching interests include Social Change, Women and War, Theory, and Globalization. In 1998, Neary traveled to Germany and personally interviewed many of the women for this book.

Sources Consulted:

Expulsion of Germans after World War II (

Former eastern territories of Germany (

Interview in Times University of South Carolina November 7, 2002. War Survivors’ stories come to light in new book (


6 Linear Feet (2 records cartons)

Language of Materials



Physical Location

Located in stacks. LIB 227

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection donated by Holle Schneider-Ricks.

Physical Description

The collection consists of printed emails, handwritten and typed letters, photographs, blank and filled in forms, research printouts, drafts of book reviews, and drafts of parts of the book. Also included is media in the form of cassette tapes and 3.5 floppy disks. The material is in English and German.
Deborah Rouse
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University of South Carolina Upstate Library Repository

800 University Way
Spartanburg SC 29303 United States