they endured endless foot marches with toddlers on the
arm, the remaining possessions in a backpack or suitcase
which they carried until exhaustion.
Often they were
forced to leave behind their own parents or grandparents
who had no more strength to go on.
endured the long trips in icy cattle cars, together with
the sick, severely injured and dying.
Hungry and thirsty,
they gave the last edible chunks to their children.
lived with the fear of losing their lives through bombs,
grenades or brutal assaults.
A particularly heavy
burden and emotional distress put a strain on many
nurses and hospital helpers of the Red Cross. They often
looked after the seriously wounded in dangerous
situations, without regard for their own lives, they
comforted the dying in their agonizing final hours. They
provided this service to others, even though the nursing
of men with terrible wounds, horrific burns and gruesome
mutilations brought themselves to their mental limits.
They were for many people, in all the misery of blood
and tears of pain and death, the only comfort and the
last hope. Many of those who held out to the bitter end
beside the sick-beds became themselves victims of rape,
murder or abduction.
They spent endless
days and nights in the cellars and bunkers, in constant
fear of bomb attack that could take their lives or all their belongings.
Beside the loss of
home and property they had to endure humiliations while
being on the run.
They lived in
perpetual terror that their husbands, fathers or
brothers at the front were killed, taken prisoner or
All their life they
bore the pain and psychological traumas of brutal
excesses and rapes.
understanding on the part of their children and without
the compassion the the society - as the saying went,
they are to blame for their misfortune. They themselves
had to fight off the tormenting nightmares.
include the countless rapes, brutality and injuries.
Even worse than
their own pain was for many mothers to watch their
children suffer and die.
They had to endure
with unspeakable misery the brutal rape of their small
Many have suffered
terrible pain because of dried up milk owing to
malnutrition and the infants starved at their breasts.
Many of them had to
watch helplessly as their infants froze to death in
their hard-frozen diapers.
thousands of mothers had to endure as their children
burned in the bombing, were torn to pieces or buried
alive under the ruins.
Many had to live on
in the knowledge that their children were brutally
separated from them, that they went missing or
disappeared, that they could never again hold them in
At war's end in 1945
the German Red Cross had 300,000 missing children on
record and 33,000 children searched for their parents.
Thousands had to
deal with the primal fear of being separated from their
Many orphans, the
so-called "wolf children", lived scared in groups in the
forests, especially in East Prussia and dared not to
return to the brutal occupation soldiers.
thousands lost their parents forever and had to spend
their childhood and youth in foster-homes. And that was
almost a merciful fate because many of the orphans have
been kidnapped to the East and had to grow up among
looking for their parents
had to watch as their own fathers, mothers, siblings or
grandparents were horribly killed while on the run,
during the expulsion or in bombing.
Many young girls,
not yet physically mature, were brutally raped, often by
serious injury by the bombing, such as blindness,
deafness, loss of limbs and so on which they had to
endure for the rest of their lives.
psychological trauma due to the sight of the countless
dead bodies and mutiliated corpses after the bombing
which haunted them also in their dreams.