Sunday, May 16, 2004

The Shame of Being German

A new book by Jean-Paul Picaper, Enfants maudits (cursed children), many French men and women who were the offspring of French women and German soldiers during the Second World War are searching for information about their German fathers.

During the period of the occupation of Northern France, 200,000 children were born to mixed couples. Marriage between Germans and Frenchwomen was forbidden. But the French populations interacted with the Germans, especially in the villages areas (mostly along the Atlantic coast of France)where the German administrations relied on local workers. After France was liberated, the German soldiers left. The children were the but of jokes in their villages.

Many of the children are in retirement. Recent events have inspired them to look for German fathers:
The extraordinary revival of Franco-German relations has thrown out the last taboo: the shame of being the child of a Boche (derogatory term for a German).

Often they know nothing more than the given name of the soldier. Nonetheless, many have been united with half-siblings (their fathers more than likely having passed away) by combing over the records of the Wehrmacht

Alsatians don't figure into this phenomenon, even though they were directly annexed by Germany and saw a larger influx of Germans during the war. According to Picaper,
in this territory of the Reich, marriages were authorized between Alsatians, who were considered to be Aryans, and Germans. I suppose that these families left to establish themselves in Germany.


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