The Children Born of War. Second World War and Beyond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

As in every other war, during and after WWII children were born whose parents belonged to opposite sides of the conflict. Being the child of the “enemy” or of occupation forces, be they friendly or adversarial, has influenced the lives of the children born of war and occupation up until now. Many have been exposed to stigmatisation and discrimination. Now in their fifties and sixties, some have started looking for their roots only recently, thus trying to break the wall of silence that has surrounded them for several decades. Most of them have been concerned with this “stain” of their mixed parentage for their whole lives, often without being able to exchange their experiences with others of similar background. This holds not only for enemy children, but also for children from allied forces such as American soldiers in Britain or Soviet soldiers in Austria and Germany, all of whom seem to have experienced similar difficulties and have been exposed to comparable discrimination.
Regardless of the dimension and social impact of the tens of thousands of children born of war, this topic has so far found little attention in academia, particularly when compared to other aspects of WWII research. Even in German speaking countries with their greater exposure the phenomenon of children born of war, the interest in the topic has been limited. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers were serving in the Wehrmacht all over Europe during WWII and in the post-war decade American, British Soviet and French troops were occupying Germany and Austria.
As a result the German dimension of this topic is significant. In order to make the contributions accessible to the broader German speaking audience, who may again be important knowledge providers, the contributions in this HSR focus are in German except for a summary article on children born of war during the Second World War and beyond. Two articles examine the situation of the children fathered by German soldiers and local women in occupied territories, in Denmark and the Netherlands. The other two articles analyse the situation of children fathered by American soldiers and local women in Germany and Britain and children of Soviet soldiers and local women in Germany and Austria.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-282
JournalHistorical Social Research
Volume34
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009