Children Born of Occupation in Germany after World War II – Problems and Coping Strategies

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Elke KLEINAU, University of Cologne, Germany
Children Born of Occupation in Germany after World War II – Problems and Coping Strategies

Since the turn of the century, some books and articles have been published on the conditions of the growing up of children born of occupation in Germany after the end of World War II. In the post-war period, children born of occupation was the term for children who had emerged from connections between members of the allied forces and local women. The line between amicable and forced sexual contacts is not easy to draw. There were as well genuine love affairs, fleeting sexual encounters, survival prostitution as rape in all four zones of occupation.

In a project currently funded by the German Research Foundation, we (my PhD student and research assistant Rafaela Schmid and me) use narrative interviews to collect the life stories of former children born of occupation. We examine structural, institutional, and individual discriminations that our interviewees were exposed to as children, and ask more, as has been the case in research now, how the children coped with their adverse life circumstances. Discrimination and exclusion experiences can, on the one hand, considerably aggravate a healthy psychological development, but on the other hand they also contribute to the development of psychological resistance. To answer this question about the resources from which the children of occupation drew and the importance of this for their development of identitiy, I will go back to some of the case studies we have developed through a qualitative biographical approach.