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World Population Day

War Children And Humanity - War Children (3)

Cases of rape


Estimates of the total number of rape victims of Soviet troops in Germany range from tens of thousands to two million. After the summer of 1945, Soviet soldiers caught raping civilians were usually punished to some degree, ranging from arrest to execution. The rapes continued, however, until the winter of 1947-48, when Soviet occupation authorities finally confined Soviet troops to strictly guarded posts and camps,“ completely separating them from the residential population in the Soviet zone of Germany.

In The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949, Norman Naimark wrote that not only did each victim have to carry the trauma for the rest of their days, but it also inflicted a massive collective trauma on the former country of East Germany (the German Democratic Republic). Naimark concluded that "The social psychology of women and men in the Soviet zone of occupation was marked by the crime of rape from the first days of occupation, through the founding of the GDR in the fall of 1949, until, one could argue, the present."Many of the rapes resulted in pregnancies, but there were also pregnancies resulting from convenience relationships for food and protection from rapists, and also from real love stories during the occupation. The children were despised in German society, and the Soviet army did not allow soldiers who wanted to assume family responsibilities to do so; many of the children are still searching for their fathers.

The Soviet approach to these children was to ensure that no mother of these children would be able to claim alimony. Already in 1944 Soviet authorities issued a decree that "illegitimate children were not related to the men who had fathered them, therefore no one had to pay anything."Between 1946 and 1953 it was illegal for Soviet citizens to marry foreigners. Those who tried to break this law were punished harshly.

Former Yugoslavia:

Attention in the 1990s was drawn on war crimes in former Yugoslavia. Muslim women in Bosnia who were raped in special camps got help as soon as they could overcome their sense of shame by looking for assistance from humanitarian organizations.

Situation of mothers, war children and fathers


The growing sense for these inacceptable mothers' fate and children's humiliation led in 1989 to the approval of Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since 2008 United Nations Security Council bans sexual violations as a war crime. This was called in German weekly Die Zeit an historical milestone.


Integration into a new family might be a solution to prevent war children from growing up as unwanted and mobbed people in a hostile environment.

War childrens' unawareness:

The war children wondered why they were treated unjustly and got to know their real descent very late or only by chance:

* by comments of their class mates, relatives or neighbours
* when they needed official documents e. g. family register or
* as soon as their mothers had died.

The late search of war children for their biological fathers was mostly difficult and (in spite of long and sophisticated search) often in vain.

Fathers unknown

Occupation forces strictly interdicted fraternization with people of the occupied territories. Couples concerned tried to hide their relation because of these interdictions and the unfavourable mood of the occupied population. Fathers from war children were excepted from actions for alimony.

Communication with the mothers of war children often ceased when the soldiers suddenly got movement orders without the opportunity to say good bye. Some of the soldiers were killed in action. In the post-war period soldiers were hindered by the victorious armies to go back to their former girl friends and their war children. Of course some of the soldiers of the defeated forces went back to their old families and denied having had any war children or relations with local women during occupation duty.

Mothers traumatized:

At the end of war mothers with war children were prosecuted as criminals and punished in humiliating ways for their relations with the enemy. They were isolated in a social and economic way. Many of them could only rehabilitate and become respected by marrying a fellow countryman to be no longer regarded as an unwed mother. Prosecution of a former girl friend of a German soldier who evaded the punishment (forced head shaving) is documented in a book by ANEG. She became traumatized for the rest of her life.

Some of the mothers gave their war child to a home of public welfare; others tried to arrange with their new partner and the common children as well as the war child (Step family). Some of the mothers had already died during the war.

Children in search for their fathers

A network of European war children "Born Of War - international network" was founded in October 2005. They meet every year in Berlin to assist each other, make up their minds and find out new positions.

World War II children


In their pension age many war children from World War II feel free from occupational and family stress to look for their identity and their roots. Often the children of corresponding German family are also interested to get in contact with the unknown war children of their father. Public opinion looks now in compassion towards those innocent war victims hit by the bitterness of post-war thinking. Only few of the biological fathers are still alive. Most of the mothers did not utter any word to their war child as they were subject to bullying and humiliating procedures by their family members and neighbours.


Search should start by getting to know the complete birth documents including birth certificate (not only parts of it). The Norwegian archive at Victoria Terrasse in Oslo burned down in the 1950s and many of these important documents were lost. Norwegian Red Cross do have some records. It is often easier to trace the Norwegian mother first by Church records as an example.


Further proceedings are to find out whether there are documentary evidence from Nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt, Auslandsorganisation - Amt für Volkswohlfahrt und Winterhilfswerk (1941–1944) about alimony payments. Valuable are also old photographs with greetings on the back or private letters.

Search in German Archives:

Several central files are part of German archives:

* At Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt) military movements of German soldiers of World War II can be traced. Children in search for their German fathers (soldiers, prisoners of Second World War) get there answers as much as possible.
* German Federal Archives-Military Archives (in German language: Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv) in Freiburg im Breisgau has some copies of personal documents and for each unit of the former Wehrmacht the so called "Kriegstagebücher" (reports of daily events) where movements, and losses per day and unit were recorded.
* Archives of former Berlin Document Center contained details on personal membership in nazi party and organisations of German Third Reich. These archives were transferred to German Federal Archives, branch Berlin-Lichterfelde. Search for persons concerned are possible thirty years after death. Details needed are name, prename, date of birth as well as occupation and range of activities.
* At Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge there exists a direct access file of all known German war graves of World War I and II.

PG 1 | PG 2

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