Offspring of Norwegian World War II Collaborators As Children at Risk
During Nazi Germany’s occupation of Norway 1940-45 about 50 000 Norwegians joined the collaborationist movement “Nasjonal Samling” (NS). As a consequence, they were branded as traitors and in the post-war judicial settlement collectively sentenced for treachery. Thus, when democracy was reestablished a strict and exceptionally wide-ranging purge was a central part of the transition process, i. e. key political actors chose a form of transitional justice that could lead to social consequences for a considerable number of people. The enduring stigmatisation of former NS-members also affected their families, not in the least children. Within the historical context of German occupied Europe, the NS-children fall in to the broader category of collaborators’ children but also share some common traits with war children fathered by German soldiers. In my paper, I will demonstrate how the NS-children in many ways and through various phases of their lives were influenced – generally negatively - by their family background. The empirical analysis is based on qualitative and quantitative data collected through an internationally unique survey in 2000-2001 among 376 NS-children born between 1928 and 1971. As expected, their life stories vary greatly but a majority have experienced problems related to their background, a phenomenon that I will term “transitional victimisation”. Some of the individual variation in likelihood for experiencing different problems can be explained by social mechanisms that were identified through the quantitative analysis. As a final point, I will discuss how political decisions made with regard to transitional justice indirectly may influence the lives of children, a problem so far largely ignored by transition theory. How can new democracies deal with perpetrators and others who supported the authoritarian regime while avoiding extensive negative, social consequences for the 2nd generation?