French 'children of the Boche' get German nationality

18th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

France was liberated after four years of German occupation in 1944, but the troops of the Third Reich left behind thousands of children fathered with French mothers, many of home were ostracised and persecuted after the war.

Paris -- Dozens of elderly French men and women have come forward to claim German nationality after suffering six decades of rootlessness as the isolated children of taboo wartime liaisons, officials said Tuesday.

France was liberated after four years of German occupation in 1944, but the troops of the Third Reich left behind thousands of children fathered with French mothers, many of home were ostracised and persecuted after the war.

As a gesture to allow these sons and daughters of "the Boche" to regain a part of their identity in their final years, Berlin agreed this year that they be allowed to claim German as their second nationality.

The first one did so in August -- declaring tearfully "I'm not a bastard any more. I'm a child like all the others" -- but officials said then they weren't expecting a flood of applicants so long after the grim post-war events.

In fact, as was revealed Tuesday when 66-year-old Francis Boulouart left the German consulate in Paris with his new citizenship confirmed, more than 50 French retirees have come forward to claim their birthright.

"Ten naturalisations have taken place, including Mr Boulouart, and 42 more cases are being dealt with across France," said Thomas Floth, a German consular official, following the latest ceremony.

Boulouart was born in 1943. His father was a German called up by the Wehrmacht to escort trains in the Calais region of northern France during the occupation.

"My parents had a real love affair, and my mother never married," he said.

Nevertheless, he never saw his father after Germany's defeat, even though he survived until 1988. Boulouart saw a photograph of his father in 2006 after he finally managed to track down his German half-brother.

His mother's French husband, who was a prisoner in Germany during the war, returned to find her with a half-German son and divorced her. She never remarried and died in a road accident in 1968.

In France after the war, most of society was keen to eradicate all traces of collaboration or fraternisation with the former occupier, and children of wartime liaisons often found themselves shunned.

In August, the first Frenchman to claim German nationality under the new rules, 66-year-old Daniel Rouxel, told how he had been cruelly bullied by children, a village priest and his own grandmother in a Breton village.

Jeanine Nivoix-Sevestre, head of an association representing the former war babies, said "they want to show that they are no longer bastards. They want Germany to recognise them in place of their fathers."

According to research by the French and German writers Jean-Paul Picaper and Ludwig Worz, as many 200,000 Franco-German children were born in the war.

Many tried to hide their roots, but others have attempted to track down their German families to better understand their dual heritage and come to terms with their suffering since the conflict.

AFP/Expatica

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