Apology for Girlfriends of German Soldiers?

Discussion in 'The Women of WW2' started by CL1, Oct 17, 2018.

  1. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg has issued an official government apology to Norwegian women who were mistreated over World War Two-era relationships with German soldiers.
    Undignified treatment'
    "Young Norwegian girls and woman who had relations with German soldiers or were suspected of having them, were victims of undignified treatment," Ms Solberg said at an event to mark the 70th anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Wednesday.

    "Our conclusion is that Norwegian authorities violated the rule fundamental principle that no citizen can be punished without trial or sentenced without law."

    "For many, this was just a teenage love, for some, the love of their lives with an enemy soldier or an innocent flirt that left its mark for the rest of their lives.

    "Today, in the name of the government, I want to offer my apologies."
    Norway apologises to WW2 'German girls'
     
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  2. Blutto

    Blutto Plane Mad

    I suppose an apology for shooting Quisling will come next.
     
  3. smdarby

    smdarby Patron Patron

    Interesting article in Dutch News: "An association supporting the children and grandchildren of women who had a relationship with a soldier in the German army during World War II have asked the Dutch government to apologise for the treatment meted out to them after the war."

    Personally, I'd lean towards no apology, given the suffering the Dutch had to endure under Nazi occupation. Having said that, I'd be interested in other people's views.

    Full article here:
    'Women reviled for wartime relationship with Germans deserve state apology' - DutchNews.nl
     
  4. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    There was a quite similar recent (October 17th 2018) story here, about the situation in Norway: Norway apologises to WW2 'German girls'

    'Undignified treatment'
    "Young Norwegian girls and women who had relations with German soldiers or were suspected of having them, were victims of undignified treatment," Ms Solberg said at an event to mark the 70th anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Wednesday.

    "Our conclusion is that Norwegian authorities violated the rule fundamental principle that no citizen can be punished without trial or sentenced without law."

    "For many, this was just a teenage love, for some, the love of their lives with an enemy soldier or an innocent flirt that left its mark for the rest of their lives.

    "Today, in the name of the government, I want to offer my apologies."

    &

    "More than seven decades on from the war, not many of the women directly affected are likely to still be alive to hear it."

    There are also a number of stories I recently saw too about the situation in the Channel islands.

    And the question of whether young women and girls, and any innocent children (i.e. born as a result etc.) were especially singled out for harsher treatment to other, more powerful sectors of society etc.

    It's complex.
     
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  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Seems to be 'the thing to do' at the moment, Norway also issued an official apology. Maybe that's because there is no legal route available within the European Court of Human Rights*. For me it's not so much the women involved, many of whom must be dead by now, but the children resulting from relationships (or indeed rape) who deserve some kind of acknowledgement of the disgusting treatment meted out to them. I don't think the hardships endured during the war/occupation are reason enough to pass judgment and retaliation/punishment on to innocent people who had no say whatsoever in how they came into the world. Kind of ironic, given the Nazi preoccupation with racial purity, that these children should be rejected by those who resisted such 'values'.


    Norway apologises to WW2 'German girls'

    image.png
    Many of the women were expelled from the country with their children

    Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg has issued an official government apology to Norwegian women who were mistreated over World War Two-era relationships with German soldiers.

    Norway, a neutral country, was invaded by Nazi forces in April 1940.

    Up to 50,000 Norwegian women are thought to have had intimate relationships with German soldiers.

    The Germans were also encouraged to have children with them by SS leader Heinrich Himmler.

    Himmler, one of the most powerful men under Adolf Hitler, favoured Norwegian women, hoping they could help promote the Nazi concept of an Aryan master race.

    Many of the Norwegian-German children were born in the German-administered Lebensborn (Fountain of Life) maternity facilities set up from 1941 by the Nazis in the country.


    The women who had relationships with the soldiers became known by the nickname the "German Girls", and were targeted for reprisals in Norway when the war ended - standing accused of betraying the country.

    Punishments included being deprived of civil rights, detained or expelled from the country to Germany along with their children.

    'Undignified treatment'

    "Young Norwegian girls and women who had relations with German soldiers or were suspected of having them, were victims of undignified treatment," Ms Solberg said at an event to mark the 70th anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Wednesday.

    "Our conclusion is that Norwegian authorities violated the rule fundamental principle that no citizen can be punished without trial or sentenced without law."

    "For many, this was just a teenage love, for some, the love of their lives with an enemy soldier or an innocent flirt that left its mark for the rest of their lives.

    "Today, in the name of the government, I want to offer my apologies."

    The apology was based on a report about Norway's post-war actions published by the country's Centre for Holocaust and Minorities Studies.

    More than seven decades on from the war, not many of the women directly affected are likely to still be alive to hear it.

    "A good apology can have a lot of power. An apology can mean that groups receive answers to their treatment," Guri Hjeltnes the head of the centre said.

    Reidar Gabler attended the event and told Norwegian media that the apology meant a lot to his family.
    His mother, Else Huth from Sarpsborg was just 22 in 1944 when she fell in love with a 25-year-old German soldier.

    "The people directly affected are no longer with us... but this also touches their families and the children," said Mr Gabler.

    "We just had to come. This is amazing," he said, after meeting Ms Solberg.

    About 10-12,000 children are thought to have been born as a result of relationships between Norwegian women and German soldiers.

    Some of the children were also targeted for acts of revenge, given up to foster families or placed in institutions.


    *In 2007 a group of children took Norway to the European Court of Human Rights, but their case was ruled inadmissible because of the amount of time that had passed since the offences occurred.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  6. SDP

    SDP Senior Member Patron

    Whether it's legal or not, whether its unethical or not and putting aside any personal views, I can understand why the girls/women having such relationships suffered a degree of retribution at the time and for a period thereafter but....there is no excuse for treating any offspring in the same way. Children should not be blamed for the actions of their parents before the children were even born. Sounds too much like 'the search for scapegoats and punishment of the innocent' to me.

    There are a number of grey lines in all this and hence the general difficulty is coming to a conclusion even in individual cases: when does a 'innocent teenage flirt' become 'assisting the enemy'? Some cases are, however, very clear cut such as when the 'girlfriend' effectively changed sides and fought for the enemy: there are cases reported in Normandy of female snipers being the French girlfriends of German soldiers.
     
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  7. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    When people lived through

    THIS

    [​IMG]

    THIS
    [​IMG]

    AND A SHORT TIME AFTER PEOPLE WERE AWARE OF THIS

    [​IMG]


    It is not a surprise that fraternisation with the enemy was seen as betraying a country.

    I remember in the late sixties and even early seventies people from that era in the UK still held a stick against the axis powers.
     
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  9. Blutto

    Blutto Plane Mad

    This need to 'apologise' seems to be fashionable amongst the limp career politicians we are beset with these days. What does it really mean? I suggest absolutely nothing. How about the UK Labour Party apologise for the actions of their post war politicians?
     
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  10. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Case, by case but in the instance for example of: Diana Mitford - Wikipedia

    There is a section on the post war, and treatment etc: Diana Mitford - Wikipedia

    To take into account there's how people behaved at the time, and what views they expressed and also how they behaved after the war.

    If there were actual "crimes" etc. or if there was actually no breaking of any law, though here too "which law", i.e. not just the law(s) of the "occupying power".

    I suppose too, it might be argued, how the next generation behaves, though if a state is "punishing babies" i.e. for the crimes of their parents etc. something is obviously wrong.

    If the next generation is interested in the 3rd Reich and fascists it's their look-out, though if half of "their heritage" wants to despise and reject them - for what might be their "other half" - what might they tend towards?

    Re. The non-fraternisation rule - Fraternization - Wikipedia

    Has: "General Dwight Eisenhower ordered "No Fraternization" between US troops and the German people. Over a period of many months, the policy was loosened, first by permitting US GIs to talk to German children and then allowing them to talk to adults, both in certain circumstances."

    If you "get to know the people" though - I have seen many quotes along the lines of - they are actually "just like us"

    Fraternization with "civilians" is what soldiers might tend to want to do.

    Fraternization - Wikipedia

    [​IMG]
     
  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Human nature is a difficult matter to discuss when too often objectionable behaviour ends up being simply justified or excused, and sometimes to make an argument for one 'side' only. All the same, I'm not one for these types of overly retrospective apologies. (Blair apologised for the Irish Famine and Cameron for Bloody Sunday - hasn't done much in repairing Anglo-Irish relationships as far as I can tell.)

    One Lebensborn child's perspective:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6432157.stm
    "Words are very cheap."

    Rather than what seems to be a 'let's get this out of the way' apology there should be an acknowledgement/acceptance both of events and their long term consequences, and not just by some government figurehead. With all this talk of the guilt of authorities, it's easy to forget that these women and particularly their offspring were part of families and communities - the very ones to initiate rejection and retaliation, of course much of it when there was no chance of any consequences falling back on themselves. Behind the herd mentality I can imagine that quite a few of the most enthusiastic participants in those humiliating rituals of eg head-shaving, etc, had themselves something to hide. Let's not forget bogus post-war claims to participation in resistance movements.

    Fraternising with the enemy or would this be 'occupational' co-habiting?
    The truth behind the French Resistance myth
    "(One example: by October 1943, 85,000 French women had children fathered by Germans.)"
     
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  12. Blutto

    Blutto Plane Mad

    However, he is yet to apologise for the things he actually did himself :)
     
  13. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  14. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
    From all the victories that I seemed to score;
    From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
    At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
    From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
    Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.

    Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
    Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
    From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
    O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
    Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye,
    Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.

    C.S.Lewis
     
  15. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member Patron

  16. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  17. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    On the Channel Islands, I think it was actually fairly rare for the local girls to date the Germans, but some did.

    Life under Nazi rule: the occupation of the Channel Islands

    "Why, then, were people outraged when women had relationships with German soldiers?
    It was one thing to be polite to someone, but it was a massive taboo to actually be in a relationship with ‘the enemy’. This was the case for both sides – the Germans could be in trouble for forming relationships with the local women too. But when you have tens of thousands of young men and women in one place, it’s inevitable what will happen.

    The women who entered into relationships with Germans were called ‘jerrybags’, and there was this assumption that they were doing it for selfish reasons – to get more food or luxuries like lipstick and silk stockings from Paris. I think for some of the local men, the resentment that they had about the occupation was targeted at these women. Those who were discovered to be having these illicit relationships had their heads shaved and were ‘tarred and feathered’ – had liquid tar and feathers poured over them. I interviewed a man who was involved with tarring at least one of these women, and he told me that the ‘jerrybags’ were considered just as much ‘the enemy’ as the Germans.

    I was quite shocked to hear how angry people can get about this subject even all these years later. Having a relationship with someone from the ‘other side’ was considered much worse than some of the wrongdoings that – to me – seemed more deserving of anger: collaboration, dodgy trading with the Germans, etc."
     
  18. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    People who weren't there apologising for things they didn't do.
    In short: It hacks me right off.

    Still, at least some of these people are still alive.
    People who weren't there apologising for things they didn't do to people who are no longer breathing really hacks me off.
    Meaningless, vapid, & pointless.

    molesworth.jpg
     
  19. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member Patron

    No apology required. Let sleeping dogs lie and move on.
     
  20. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    In this: 'Women reviled for wartime relationship with Germans deserve state apology' - DutchNews.nl

    The "basic headline" tells you the story is about "a state apology for women who were reviled"

    The article itself talks about worse consequences than being "reviled", an apology for being reviled is one thing, but actual crimes committed against some of these women by vigilantes and people in authority after the war is also a factor.

    Did and indeed do post-war states routinely condone such, and if so would it now help the families of these women and girls for someone in authority to acknowledge this, and apologise for it.

    I guess the goal is so that those affected could move on with their lives and not continue to feel stigmitised etc. for something in their genetic past which they have no responsibility for.

    Also, re. the Dutch situation I posted this WW2 letter, sent from the Netherlands on 29th September 1944 quite recently here: The SRY in NWE in September 1944

    "I went back through one town, we could tell who were pro-Germans by the big swastikas tarred on the doors, I looked into one house through the broken windows, fine job of smashing up had been done. Why the silly asses didn’t share the stuff to the people who had suffered I don’t know. Anyway, the Free French, Free Belgians, and Free Dutch know exactly who to go after and they nip around in cars and pick them up in a very short time, if they resist it’s just too bad for them. I can’t say I like it, it gives some a chance to settle old scores and is too much like the old Witch hunt for my palate, but we don’t know everything so they can settle that problem themselves.
    There’s no getting around with the girls as far as I can see, somehow we hold aloof from them, it’s hard to explain because to say a soldier won’t take out a nice bit of stuff is nonsense. But I can honestly say that I haven’t seen a soldier by himself with a girl, I think it’s because we aren’t in any one place long enough, or are the girl’s canny? I’ve asked a few and they all say “B--- this place, let’s get home”
    "

    A bit later - around Xmas 1944, still in the Netherlands, my grandfather wrote this: Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry (SRY) in North West Europe

    "You’d love this country and its people I’m sure, they’re so very kind and of course they love the English. Of course their children have insisted that I promise to bring you here after the war, you see they have an interest in the “kline kinda” (little child). They are quite rich too, the brother is an Advocate in the law courts. At the moment he is president of the courts trying the offenders against the state."
     

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