Norway apologises to WWII ‘German girls’
Norway has apologised for the “shameful treatment” of Norwegian women targeted for having relationships with Nazi soldiers during the Second World War occupation.
Between 30,000 and 50,000 Norwegian females, labelled “German girls” at the time, were accused of having sex with occupying troops, according to Norway’s Centre for Holocaust and Minorities Studies.
They suffered public humiliation and official reprisals after the 1945 liberation, including illegal detention, dismissal from their jobs and loss of nationality.
“We cannot say women who had personal relations with German soldiers were helping the German war effort,” said historian Guri Hjeltnes of the centre.
“Their crime was breaking unwritten rules and moral standards. They were punished even more harshly than the war profiteers.”
None of the estimated 28 Norwegian men married to German women during the war were expelled, the historian added.
About 10,000-12,000 children are thought to have been fathered by Nazi troops.
Many were also targeted for acts of revenge, given to foster families or incarcerated in institutions.
In 2007 a group of war children took the Norwegian government to the European Court of Human Rights, but their case was ruled inadmissible because of the number of years that had passed since their persecution occurred.
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg said: “Young Norwegian girls and women who had relations with German soldiers or were suspected of having them, were victims of shameful treatment.
“Today, in the name of the government, I want to offer my apologies,” she said, marking the 70th anniversary of the UN’s universal declaration of human rights.
“For many, this was just a teenage love, for some, the love of their lives with an enemy soldier or an innocent flirt that left its mark for the rest of their lives.”
More than 300,000 soldiers occupied Norway after April 1940. Heinrich Himmler, the Nazi SS chief, called Norwegian women “goddesses” and encouraged Nazi troops to have relations with them.
The first “Lebensborn” reproduction centre outside Germany was established in Norway in 1941 to promote Aryan race ideology.
In 2000, Norway formally apologised to the estimated children born to Norwegian mothers and German soldiers, who also suffered discrimination.
“The people directly affected are no longer with us… but this also touches their families and the children,” said Reidar Gabler, son of a Norwegian woman who was expelled in 1945 with her German husband.
Else Huth from Sarpsbor, was 22 in 1944 when she fell for the 25-year-old German soldier.
“Even if it comes late, the apology is important for history,” Gabler told Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper
Occupied Oslo in 1940. Picture credit: Wikimedia