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|World Population Day|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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In conjunction with the claim brought before the courts by the war children in 1999, a motion was filed in September 2000 to national headlines alleging 10 war children had unknowingly and involuntarily been subjected to medical experiments with LSD during the 1950s and 1960s. It was further claimed that these experiments were approved by the government and financed by CIA, the American intelligence agency.
The motion didn't cite evidence for the allegation, rather the attorney referred to four sources whom she at the time refused to identify. It was already known that certain hallucinogenic drugs, including LSD, had been considered possibly valuable in psychotherapeutic treatment (see Psychedelic psychotherapy) in the 1960s, so the Norwegian government appointed an independent commission to investigate the allegation in October 2001. Following two years of work the Commission concluded in a final report that the allegations all originated from a single source who neither mentioned the war children specifically nor LSD experiments on humans, but rather animals. The Commission also concluded that they were unable to find any other evidence in local, national and international archives which could support the allegation.
The Norwegian Defence Research Establishment conducted their own investigation into the allegation in 2001 and found it unsupported by evidence, though the complete report remains classified. Later the Ministry of Defence vacated the obligation of professional secrecy for current and previous employees in regard to information about the matter. This move did not yield any new information.
It should be noted that medical staff in several European countries as well as the US conducted clinical trials or experimental treatment involving LSD, most of them at some point between 1950 and 1970. In Norway trials involved volunteer patients where traditional medical treatments had proved unsuccessful.
Acknowledgment and apology
Since the mid-80s the fate of the war children has become well known and the government has admitted neglect. The Prime Minister of Norway apologized publicly in his New Year's Eve speech in 2000. Currently, as adults, the 150 former Lebensborn Children are suing for reparations and damages from the Norwegian government for failing to protect them and discriminating against them.
The most famous of Norway's war children is former ABBA singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad, now Princess Anni-Frid Reuss of Plauen.
German forces invaded Norway in 1940 and occupied the country until 1945. At the end of the war the German presence stood at 372,000. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 12,000 children were born to German fathers and Norwegian mothers during the occupation.
Nazi ideology considered Norwegians to be pure Aryans and German authorities didn't prohibit soldiers from pursuing relationships with Norwegian women. In other occupied territories like Eastern Europe, such relationships were forbidden because of Nazi views that Slavs were an inferior race.
After the war these women especially, but also their children, were mistreated in Norway.
German forces occupied Denmark between 1940 and 1945. German soldiers were allowed to have contact with Danish women. It is estimated that between 6,000 and 8,000 children were born to German fathers and Danish mothers during the occupation or just after the occupation. The Danish government has 5,579 such children in their files.
In 1999 the Danish government allowed this group access to parenthood archives, exempting them from the country's normal secrecy period of 80 years for such records.
By Soldiers of Allied Forces:
The Allied forces maintained a presence in Germany for several years after World War II. The book GIs and Fräuleins, by Maria Hohn, lists 66,000 children as born to soldiers of Allied forces in the period 1945-55:
* American parent: 36,334
* French parent: 10,188
* British parent: 8,397
* Soviet parent: 3,105
* Belgian parent: 1,767
* Other/unknown: 6,829
According to Perry Biddiscombe more than 37,000 illegitimate children were born to American fathers in the 10 years following the German surrender. Relations between the occupation forces and German and Austrian women were seen with suspicion by the locals, who feared that the Americans would impregnate their women and then leave the children to be cared for by the local communities. Those fears were borne out in at least in part, as a majority of the 37,000 illegitimate children ended up as wards of the social services for at least some time. Many of the children remained wards of the state for a long time, especially children with African-American fathers who were never adopted.
The food situation in occupied Germany was initially very dire. By the spring of 1946 the official ration in the U.S. zone was no more than 1275 calories per day (much less than the minimum required to maintain health), with some areas probably receiving as little as 700. Some U.S. soldiers used this desperate situation to their advantage, exploiting their ample supply of food and cigarettes (the currency of the black market) as what became known as "frau bait"(The New York Times, 25 June 1945). Some Americans still felt the girls were the enemy, but used them for sex nevertheless.
The often destitute mothers of the resulting children usually received no alimony.
Between 1950 and 1955 the Allied High Commission for Germany prohibited "proceedings to establish paternity or liability for maintenance of children."Even after the lifting of the ban West German courts had little power over American soldiers.
The children of black American soldiers, commonly called "Negermischlinge" ("Negro half-breeds"), were particularly disadvantaged, since even in the cases where the soldier was willing to take responsibility he was prohibited from doing so by the U.S. Army which until 1948 prohibited interracial marriages.
In the earliest stages of the occupation, U.S. soldiers were not allowed to pay maintenance for a child they admitted having fathered, since to do so was considered as "aiding the enemy". Marriages between white U.S. soldiers and Austrian women were not permitted until January 1946, and with German women until December 1946.
The official U.S. policy on war children was summed up in the Stars and Stripes in 8 April 1946, in the article "Pregnant Frauleins Are Warned!":
Girls who are expecting a child fathered by an American soldier will be provided with no assistance by the American Army... If the soldier denies paternity, no further action will be undertaken other than to merely inform the woman of this fact. She is to be advised to seek help from a German or Austrian welfare organization. If the soldier is already in the United States, his address is not to be communicated to the woman in question, the soldier may be honorably discharged from the army and his demobilization will in no way be delayed. Claims for child support from unmarried German and Austrian mothers will not be recognized. If the soldier voluntarily acknowledges paternity, he is to provide for the woman in an appropriate manner.
Canada declared war on Germany in 1939, following Britain's war declaration the week before. During the war Canadian forces participated in the allied invasions of both Italy and Normandy. Prior to the invasion of continental Europe significant Canadian forces were stationed in Britain.
An estimated 22,000 children were born of Canadian soldiers and British mothers stationed in Britain. In continental Europe it has been estimated that 6,000 were born in the Netherlands, with smaller numbers born in Belgium and other places where Canadian forces were stationed during and after the war.
A famous example of this is Eric Clapton.
In Austria Russian war children („Russenkind“) were discriminated as well as their mothers.
Common unfavourable expressions for those women who were on friendly terms with allied soldiers were American girl (»Amischickse« oder »Dollarflitscherl«) and in the case of relations with coloured soldiers chocolate girl (»Schokoladenmädchen«).
In April 1946 the Stars and Stripes newspaper echoed, that there was no hope for assistance by military authorities for "pregnant Fräuleins". A "Kraft-durch-Freude" ("Strength Through Joy", a Nazi organization) girl who ate from the forbidden fruit should come clear alone with the consequences. The United States seem to be following this proposition to the present day.
Coloured babies from Austria were sent in the age of 4 to 7 years by Austrian youth welfare offices to the USA by air flight. Black families adopted them there.
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This article is about children with a foreign military parent. For children used as soldiers, see Military use of children. For the mass evacuation of children from Finland during the Continuation War, see Finnish war children. For children of military families, see military brat. For the disambiguation page, see War Child.
"War baby" redirects here. For other uses, see War baby (disambiguation).
A war child refers to a child born to a native parent and a parent belonging to a foreign military force (usually an occupying force, but also soldiers stationed at military bases on foreign soil). It also refers to children of parents collaborating with an occupying force. Having a child with a member of a belligerent foreign military, throughout history and across cultures, is often considered a grave betrayal of social values. Commonly, the native parent is disowned by family, friends and society at large. The term "war child" is most commonly used for children born during World War II and its aftermath although it is also relevant other situations such as the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities.
Children whose either parent was part of an occupying force or whose parent(s) collaborated with enemy forces were innocent of any war crimes committed by their parents. Yet these children have felt condemned by the crimes uncovered in the subsequent prosecution of their parents' acts. As they grew to adolescence and adulthood, many of them harbored the feelings of guilt and shame.
One example is children born to World War II soldiers. These children claim they lived with their identity in an inner exile until the 1980s, when some of them presented themselves officially. In 1987 Bente Blehr refused anonymity when an interview with her was published in "Born Guilty", a collection of 12 interviews with children whose parent(s) collaborated with German forces in occupied Norway. The first autobiography by the child of a German occupying soldier and Norwegian citizen, dedicated to all of them, was published in Norway: "The Boy from Gimle" (1993) by Eystein Eggen.
Having a relationship with a soldier of an occupying force has historically been censured. Women who became pregnant would often take measures to conceal the fact that the father was a foreign soldier, if possible. The choices available to them usually were:
* Arrange a marriage with a local man, who would take responsibility for the child
* Claim the father was unknown, dead, or had left, bring up the child as a single mother
* Acknowledge the relation, bring up the child as a single mother
* Acknowledge the relation, accept welfare from the occupying force (see the German Lebensborn)
* Place the child in an orphanage or give the child up for adoption
* Immigrate to the occupying country, and claim that identity
* Have an abortion
After the war it was common for both mother and child to suffer repercussions from the local population. Such repercussions were widespread throughout Europe. While some women and children experienced acts considered horrendous, including torture and deportation, most acts fell into one or several of the following categories:
* Name calling: German whore and German kid were common labels
* Isolation or harassment from the local community and at schools
* Loss of work
* Shaving the head of the mothers, an act not uncommon in the immediate aftermath of the war
* Temporary placement in confinement or internment camps
While repercussions were most widespread immediately after the war, sentiments against the women and their children would linger into the 1950s, 60s, and beyond.
War children of World War II
Estimates of the number of war children fathered by German soldiers during World War II are difficult to gauge, and are speculative to some extent given the tendency for the mother to hide the pregnancy of a war child for fear of revenge and reprisal by male family members. Lower estimates range in the hundreds of thousands, while upper estimates are much higher, into the millions.
The Lebensborn program
Lebensborn was one of several programs initiated by Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler to secure the racial heredity of the Third Reich. The program mainly served as a welfare institution for parents and children deemed racially valuable.
In Norway a local Lebensborn office, Abteilung Lebensborn, was established in 1941 with the task of supporting children of German soldiers and their Norwegian mothers, pursuant to German law (Hitlers Verordnung, July 28, 1942). The organization ran several homes where pregnant women could give birth. Facilities also served as permanent homes for eligible women until the end of the war. Additionally, the organization paid child support on behalf of the father, and covered other expenses, including medical bills, dental treatment and transportation.
In total, between 9 and 15 Lebensborn homes were established. Of the estimated 10,000 - 12,000 children born by German fathers and Norwegian mothers during the war, 8,000 were registered by Abteilung Lebensborn. In 4,000 of these cases the father is known.
During and after the war, the Norwegians commonly referred to these children as tyskerunger, translating as "German-kids" or "Kraut kids", a derogatory term. (As a result of later recognition of their post-war mistreatment, the more diplomatic term krigsbarn (war-children) came into use and is now the generally accepted form).
As the war ended the children and their mothers were viewed as outcasts by many among the general populace who felt antagonized by the war and everything that had to do with Germany. The children and their mothers experienced isolation and many children were bullied by other children, and sometimes by adults, due to their origin. Immediately after the peace 14,000 women were arrested, 5,000 were without any judiciary process placed in forced labor camps for a year and a half. Their heads were shaved and they were beaten and raped. In an interview for the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter it is claimed by warchildren that in an orphanage in Bergen the little children were forced to parade on the streets so the local population could whip them and spit at them.
In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Social Affairs in 1945, the local government in one third of the counties expressed an unfavorable view of the war children. The same year the Ministry of Social Affairs briefly explored the possibility of reuniting the children and their mothers with surviving fathers in post-war Germany, but decided not to.
500 children who were still living in Lebensborn homes at the end of the war had to leave as homes were closed down. Some children were left to state custody during a time when such care was marked by strict rules, insufficient education and abuse. Approximately 20 children ended up in a mental institution in 1946 due to lack of space in other institutions and unsuccessful adoption attempts, where some remained past their 18th birthday.
The Norwegian government also made plans to forcibly deport 8000 children and their mothers to Australia.
Financial and legal issues
In 1950, diplomatic relations made it possible for the Norwegian government to collect child support from those fathers living in West-Germany and Austria, and as of 1953 such payments were made. Child support from fathers living in East-Germany was kept in locked accounts until diplomatic relations between the two countries was established in 1975.
Some of the war children have tried to obtain official recognition for past mistreatment, which some claim equates to an attempt at genocide. In December 1999, 122 war children brought a claim before the courts (only 7 signed the claim, which was a case to test the boundaries of the law). The courts have found any claims void due to the statute of limitations.
However, an arrangement in Norway allows citizens who have experienced neglect or mistreatment by failure of the state to apply for "simple compensation" (an arrangement is not subject to the statute of limitations). In July 2004 the government expanded this compensation program to include war children who had experienced only minor difficulties. The basic compensation rate is set to 20,000 NOK (€2,500 / $3,000) for what Norwegian government terms "mobbing" (bullying). Those who are able to produce evidence of abuse can receive up to 200,000 NOK (25,000 € / $30,000).
On 2007-03-08, 158 of the war children were to have their case heard at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. They were demanding reparations of between 500,000 SEK (≈ 431,272 NOK) and 2,000,000 SEK (≈ 1,725,088 NOK) each for systematic abuse. The Norwegian government contested the claim that the children were mistreated.
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The International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression is a United Nations observance each 4 June. It was established on 19 August 1982.
This international day acknowledges the pain suffered by children throughout the world who are the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse - and affirms a commitment to protect the rights of children.
The statistics of child abuse in its many, many forms are horrendous. They include over 2 million children killed in conflict in the last two decades; around 10 million child refugees cared for by UNHCR; in the Latin America & Caribbean region 80 thousand children die every year from violence that breaks out within the family.
Humanity is organising as never before to put children first in the process of building a better world, and this Day also celebrates the millions of individuals and organizations working to protect and preserve the rights of children. The Global Movement for Children, with leadership from Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel, is an inspiring force for change that involves ‘ordinary people’ and families in all parts of the world. The ‘Say Yes for Children’ campaign, which has been endorsed by over 94 million people, calls for 10 positive actions to be taken to improve the lives of children.
Child abuse is now in the spotlight of global attention, and much is being done to protect children around the world. One key factor in this is the process of international negotiation and action centred around the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
War Children And Humanity: PG 1 | PG 2 | PG 3