The Blog

Germany Offers Citizenship to French 'War Children'

12:42 PM, Feb 27, 2009 • By ULF GARTZKE
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In a highly symbolic gesture, Berlin has offered to grant German citizenship to the children fathered by Wehrmacht soldiers during the 1940-1944 occupation of France. Estimates indicate that about 200,000 babies were born as a result of such romantic Franco-German liaisons in WW II. After the war, unfortunately, many of these "war children"--condescendingly referred to as "Génération Boche"--were ostracized by French society and treated as outcasts by neighbors and even members of their own family.

The recent decision by the German interior ministry is the result of an initiative launched by French children of former Wehrmacht soldiers for whom it was important to seek symbolic recognition by the home country of their fathers, many of whom never saw their children. Berlin has promised an expedited, case-by-case handling of these citizenship applications, for which there will be no fee. As members of the EU, these Franco-German children will also be allowed to hold dual citizenship. While successive French governments had largely ignored the "war children" issue for decades, Paris has now offered to set up a commission to shed light on the psychological and even physical sufferings endured by many of the "enfants de la guerre".