Dr Matthew Frank

Associate Professor in International History

+44 (0)113 34 34470

Summary: 20th Century European History, esp. Central and Eastern Europe; Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War; Politics of forced migration: ethnic cleansing and population transfers;


I hold a doctorate (2005) in Modern History from St Antony's College, Oxford. Before starting at Leeds in September 2008, I was a postdoctoral research fellow at Sheffield Hallam University.

Research Interests

20th Century European History, esp. Central and Eastern Europe

Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War

Politics of forced migration: ethnic cleansing and population transfers

Refugees and humanitarian aid

Current Research Projects

Making Minorities History: Population Transfer in Twentieth-Century Europe

'Making Minorities History' examines the development of international schemes for the compulsory resettlement of European national minorities. The main focus of the project is on the concept of 'population transfer', the idea that in order to construct homogeneous nation-states - and thereby minimize tensions between them - national minorities could be relocated en masse in an orderly way with minimal economic and political disruption as long as sufficient planning, bureaucratic rigor and international support were all in place. The project explores the historical context and intellectual milieu in which 'population transfer' was rapidly transformed from being regarded as a marginal idea propagated by a handful of political fantasists and extreme nationalists into an acceptable and 'progressive' instrument of state policy, as amenable to authoritarian regimes and fascist dictators as it was to bourgeois democracies and Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Drawing on hundreds of different unpublished collections from almost fifty different depositories in over a dozen countries, 'Making Minorities History' is a work of international history in its broadest sense, offering not only a comprehensive empirical history based on extensive archival research but also a new conceptual framework with which to view the European history of forced migration.

Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Academy and the American Philosophical Society.

The Forty Years' Crisis: Refugees in Europe, 1919-59

With Jessica Reinisch (Birkbeck College, London) I organised a conference on 'The Forty Years' Crisis: Refugees in Europe, 1919-1959' (14-16 September 2010).

This conference took stock of the 'short' twentieth century of European refugees and refugee policy which the United Nations' first World Refugee Year in 1959 supposedly brought to a close. It drew together and re-assessed the by now substantial amount of research on refugee crises and responses, with particular reference to international analyses and initiatives, such as those of the United Nations, its precursor organisations and other international bodies.

The keynote lectures by Prof Michael Marrus and Dr Zara Steiner can now be downloaded as podcasts. Mira Siegelberg's conference report is published in History Workshop Journal, vol. 71, no.1, Spring 2011

The conference was supported with grants from the British Academy, Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust, Royal Historical Society, Birkbeck College and the University of Leeds.

Postgraduate Supervision

I would welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate students who wish to work on topics that broadly coincide with my research interests, especially on refugees and displacement in twentieth-century Europe.


Undergraduate Modules

HIST1817 Skills and Concepts in International History

HIST1840 Consensus and Contention: Investigations in International History

HIST2800 Documents and Debates

HIST2900 IHP Long Essay 

HIST3780 Germany Occupied and Divided, 1945-63

HIST3885 Europe Uprooted: Refugee Crises and the Nation State


Fellowship, Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2012

Small Research Grant, British Academy, 2010

Research Grant, German Academic Exchange Service, 2010

Research Award, Scouloudi Foundation, 2010

Conference Support Grant, British Academy, 2010

Pump-Priming Award, Faculty of Arts, University of Leeds, 2010

Founders' Short-term Travel Award, British Association for American Studies, 2009

Small Research Grant, British Academy, 2008

Franklin Research Grant, American Philosophical Society, 2007

Small Research Grant, British Academy, 2006


'Reconstructing the Nation-State: Population Transfer in Central and Eastern Europe, 1944-48', in Jessica Reinisch and Elizabeth White (eds), The Disentanglement of Populations: Migration, Expulsion and Displacement in Postwar Europe, 1944-1949 (Palgrave, 2011), pp. 27-47

'Fantasies of Ethnic Unmixing: Population Transfer and the Collapse of Empire in Europe', in Panikos Panayi and Pippa Virdee (eds), Refugees and the End of Empire: Imperial Collapse and Forced Migration during the Twentieth Century (Palgrave, 2011), pp. 81-101

'Working for the Germans: British Voluntary Societies and the German Refugee Crisis, 1945-50', Historical Research, 72:215 (2009), 157-75

Expelling the Germans: British Opinion and Post-1945 Population Transfer in Context (Oxford University Press, 2008)

'The New Morality: Victor Gollancz, "Save Europe Now" and the German Refugee Crisis, 1945-46', Twentieth Century British History, 17:2 (2006), 230-56