The World War II is our cradle – An East Belgian  story with testimonies of Wehrmacht-and GI-children of war]

“For years the subject such as the confrontation with extramarital motherhood in times of war has been repressed or concealed. Gerlinda Swillen, a convinced feminist, puts that aspect of the courage of life of women in the spotlight. An exceptional achievement of the author is that she focusses on the children born out of such relations. Recent and current wars demonstrate that the theme of the writer not only concerns dealing with the past.” - Els Herrebout, chief archivist of the State Archives in Eupen

Without wars and conflicts it would not exist: the forgotten generation of children of war, often called children of the occupation. Children born out of relations of native women with soldiers – German Wehrmachtsoldiers and as of 1944 GI-soldiers.

The existence of children of war and the unresolved suffering of this generation has for many years been declared taboo and concealed. The treatment of the mothers was often harsh. The atrocious images of women having to run the gauntlet amidst a howling crowd because they had an erotic relation with the enemy point this out.

Gerlinda Swillen poignantly describes the history of countless children of war and how their begetters met each other, which were the problems they encountered and how their life turned out. She sheds light on the problems of children of war – growing up with one of the parents missing – and the wish of that generation to obtain international statute.

An appeal of hope about a concealed, forgotten generation!


Gerlinda Swillen graduated in 2016 from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) with the doctoral thesis: Begotten by World War II – Children of War on the Axis Brussels – Berlin, Prelude – Birth – Reception (The Cradle of World War II – Children of War on the Axis Brussels – Berlin, Brussels, VUPPress, 2016). She published the first book about children of war in Belgium; Cuckoo in the Nest. Begotten by the Enemy [1940-1945], Antwerp/Amsterdam, 2009 (own translation in French: La valise oubliée. Enfants de guerre (1940-1945), Brussels, 2018).

The author is research assistant at the VUB and associate researcher at the General State Archive CEGESOMA. She let numerous children of war talk. Being herself a child of war, she knows what she writes about. Her begetter was a Wehrmachtsoldier and her mother a Belgian kindergarten teacher. In 2010 Gerlinda Swillen as first Belgian war child obtained the German nationality.

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