German tragedy of destiny

Women and children




The women


Without complaints, 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.


Refugee card


Silently they 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.


Constantly, they 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.


2,000,000 dead


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.


Refugee card


They lived in perpetual terror that their husbands, fathers or brothers at the front were killed, taken prisoner or missed forever.


All their life they bore the pain and psychological traumas of brutal excesses and rapes.


Often without 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.


No statistics include the countless rapes, brutality and injuries.



The mothers


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 daughters.


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.


Hundreds of 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 their arms.


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.





The children


Thousands had to deal with the primal fear of being separated from their parents.


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.


Hundreds of 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 strangers.



Lost children looking for their parents



Countless children 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 whole hordes.


Thousands wore 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.


Many suffered psychological trauma due to the sight of the countless dead bodies and mutiliated corpses after the bombing which haunted them also in their dreams.



Starving German children