Norway Struggles With 'War Baby' Legacy
Dec. 18, 2002
OSLO, Norway (AP) _ Nearly six decades after the Nazis left Norway, the government is seeking to make amends with the innocent but outcast children they left behind.
The ``war babies'' _ some 10,000 children of Norwegian mothers and German fathers _ complain of lives ruined by hatred, exclusion and abuse in the decades that followed the 1940-45 Nazi occupation of Norway.
This week the Norwegian parliament told the government to investigate possible compensation for the children, nearly all of whom are now in their 50s and 60s.
``As recently as 1992, my aunt reminded me that I was an unwanted child,'' Anne-Marie Grube recently told the Norwegian news agency NTB. ``Good lord, I'm almost 60 years old and still struggle with the scars of my youth!''
Many Nazis believed that Norwegians with blue eyes and blonde hair were part of the Aryan ideal. German soldiers were encouraged to befriend and have affairs with Norwegian women. When the war ended, however, the soldiers returned to Germany, leaving behind the women, many of them with children.
For the children, life in postwar Norway meant derision as ``Nazi Babies.'' For others, it meant being separated from their mothers and sent to children's homes, given up for adoption, even institutionalized at psychiatric hospitals.
Seven of them sued the government for compensation in the Oslo City Court last year, but lost because the statute of limitations expired in the 1980s.
On Monday, parliament ordered the government to investigate possible compensation, asking it to present different proposals by the end of 2003. It said that compensation would not be automatic, but hinge on proof of suffering.
In court last year, Harriet von Nickel told of foster parents trying ``to beat the German blood'' out of her.
She testified about children shunning her and a dentist intentionally drilling into her gums to show her the pain Norwegians suffered under Nazi torture.
She burst into tears when asked about a class she took about Germany. Her teacher ordered her to stand up in the classroom.
``I had to stand there so the other students could see how ugly, stupid and bad Germans were. I will never forget that as long as I live,'' she said. ``I still can't understand why I've been punished for a whole lifetime for what my father did.''
The Justice Ministry said it wasn't clear how and when the resolution would be handled.
``The war children's situation in Norway in the postwar period is a dark chapter in Norway's near past,'' Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa, a Center Party parliament member, wrote in her proposal. ``It is high time that this case comes to an end.''
Randi Hagen Spydevold, a lawyer for 120 people demanding compensation, said it was too early to claim a victory.
``We have to look at what happens next,'' she said in a telephone interview, adding that the government had complained that a year was a short period of time to draft a series of different proposals. ``We have to keep the pressure up.''