German soldiers 'fathered 50,000 Dutch children'
28 May 2004 , AMSTERDAM — German soldiers fathered many more children with Dutch women during the occupation in the Second World War than previously thought, new evidence by the German military indicates.
28 May 2004
AMSTERDAM — German soldiers fathered many more children with Dutch women during the occupation in the Second World War than previously thought, new evidence by the German military indicates.
The archives of the German Wehrmacht — the official name of the German armed forces from 1935-45 — indicate that 50,000 children were born to Dutch mothers and German soldiers during the war years.
The Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) and the Contact Group for German Soldiers' Children had previously estimated the number at 10,000, Dutch public news service NOS reported.
The director of the Deutsche Dienststelle WASt, which administers the archives, told Dutch current affairs programme Nova on Thursday night that in recent times many more requests had been placed by Dutch nationals wanting information about their German father.
Director Gerhardt said the surge in requests was because many children only found out that their father was a German soldier after their mother died.
The TV programme also filmed Riet and Adrie Linthorst on the journey to examine the German military archives. As children of a German soldier, their mother took them to their grandparents after the war. They were told that their father was killed during the conflict. But in the years that followed, the doubts grew.
When their mother died in December 1998, the Linthorst siblings found the name of their father in a cupboard that had remained locked for years and decided to make contact with the administrators of the German army archives.
The archives indicated that their father was married when he fathered his two Dutch children. He remarried after the war and died on 29 November 1998, a month before Riet and Adrie's mother died.
Both the brother and sister have reacted with shock, explaining they had not expected such news. Dismayed by the lost years, they also say they wished they had started searching sooner.
Director Gerhardt understands why their mother stayed silent about their father: "Shame and angst to be made out to be a 'German whore' made many women prevent their children from asking about their German father".
He suspects that the actual number of children produced by German soldiers could be much higher, because the Wehrmacht stopped counting in 1944. Up until that year, soldiers in occupied countries were required to report births to the Wehrmacht.
The women were then given money from the fathers and a one-off payment from Germany. These payments were all recorded and registered.
During the Second World War, German soldiers were encouraged to father children in countries such as the Netherlands and Norway. "These children were of Aryan descent and were therefore warmly welcome in the Third Reich," Gerhardt said.
A NIOD spokesman reacted with surprise to the figures. "Up until now, armies did not make any announcements about children fathered in foreign countries. This makes it extra exceptional. This number is new for me," he said.
But sons and daughters now going to Berlin to find their father are often going to be disappointed. Most of the German men have since died and in only a few cases can contact be made.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news, German news