Children of World War II: The Hidden Enemy Legacy

By Kjersti Ericsson; Eva Simonsen | Go to book overview

12
Besatzungskinder and Wehrmachtskinder:
Germany's War Children

Ebba D. Drolshagen


In Search of the Proper Words

A thorough analysis of the semantics of seemingly innocuous and randomly coined terms can reveal underlying social mechanisms which are far from innocuous and random. Frequently, the individual and social consciousness about something (or someone) depends on an existing term which denotes the fact or the person in question. Relevant here are terms for human beings who are grouped together because they are perceived as having something in common. Societies consider only some of all possible groups as relevant enough to create a word for them; examples are the Norwegian word krigsbarn (war child) and the German word Besatzungskind (child of occupation). Both denote groups with comparable definitions, the most important being that the fathers of the children are foreign occupation soldiers. In both countries, the members of these groups were and are also called abusive names alluding to their fathers' national background.

The question of who is singled out for a name - and why! - is important. It can tell us much about who is regarded as 'one of us' (and thus does not need a separate label) and who is set apart (not only) verbally.

A possible reason for the lack of a term is the existence of a taboo around an issue. Another and more common reason is that only some groups are considered relevant enough to 'deserve' a word. This criterion of 'relevance' means that semantic holes in a language - i.e. words which do not exist where a word might be created - can be very telling. Examples here would be a single expression for the children of a country's own soldiers and foreign women (for example a German word for the offspring of German Wehrmacht soldiers in the occupied European countries, or a Norwegian word for the children of Norwegian soldiers in Germany).

In this chapter, the existence, and non-existence, of terms to denote children of native women and occupant soldiers during World War II and its aftermath will be my point of departure for the exploration of two questions: (a) what does the

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Children of World War II: The Hidden Enemy Legacy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - North 13
  • 1: Under the Care of Lebensborn 15
  • 2: War, Cultural Loyalty and Gender 35
  • 3: Silences, Public and Private 53
  • 4: Meant to Be Deported 71
  • 5: Life Stories of Norwegian War Children 93
  • Part II - West 113
  • 6: Ideology and the Psychology of War Children in Franco's Spain, 1936–1945 115
  • 7: Enfants De Boches 138
  • 8: Stigma and Silence 151
  • Part III - East 165
  • 9: Between Extermination and Germanization 167
  • 10: Race, Heredity and Nationality 190
  • Part IV - Germany 211
  • 11: A Topic for Life 213
  • 12: Besatzungskinder and Wehrmachtskinder 229
  • 13: Black German 'Occupation' Children 249
  • Epilogue 267
  • 14: Children in Danger 269
  • Index 287
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