An open workshop talk about Occupation Children of allied soldiers in Austria and Germany was held at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna last week, attended by ESR Sophie Roupetz. The evening focused on historical and psychological parameters, determining the autobiographies of these children born in the aftermath of World War II, fathered by foreign soldiers and born to local mothers.
Organised by the Future Fund of the Republic of Austria, its General Secretary, Herwig Hösele moderated the event. After Markus Kornprobst’s (Chair of International Relations at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna) words of welcome, Barbara Stelzl-Marx, Deputy Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann-Institute for Research on Consequences of War and Director of Research of CHIBOW, gave an overview of the history of Occupation Children in Austria. Stelzl-Marx presented the volume "Besatzungskinder. Die Nachkommen alliierter Soldaten in Österreich und Deutschland" (Böhlau, 2015), that she edited together with Silke Satjukow. The book deals
with the biographies of children of Allied soldiers in Austria and Germany after World War II, born as the result of love affairs, short flings, “survival prostitution” and rape. Stelzl-Marx also named the most prominent example of an Occupation Children: British singer, Marianne Faithfull. "She is the child of a British officer (Robert Glynn Faithfull) who was based in Vienna and who married her Viennese mother (Eva von Sacher-Masoch). They moved to Great Britain, where Marianne was born", says the author and editor Stelzl-Marx. In contrast to this example the majority of Occupation Children have never met their fathers. Many were confronted with discrimination and social exclusion during their childhood and youth. Stelzl-Marx also focused on different factors for
resilience and the role of networks that have emerged in the last couple of years.
The psychosocial consequences of being an Occupation Child in the post-war period in Germany and Austria have been presented by Heide Glaesmer, Vice Head of the Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology at the University of Leipzig. She initiated the first study about the topic in 2013 and works together with Barbara Stelzl-Marx to develop the subjects empirical evidence. Presenting on identity issues, stigmatization and discrimination as well as childhood maltreatment as central aspects of the
psychosocial conditions under which Occupation Children grew up, she also named resilience as being found within this population; which is published in the book “Besatzungskinder. Die Nachkommen alliierter Soldaten in Österreich und Deutschland” (Böhlau, 2015). The talk was also attended by Occupation Children, including Eleonore Dupuis, fathered by a Russian soldier and born to an Austrian woman. Parts of her autobiography “Befreiungskind” (“Child of Liberation”) as well as autobiographies by other Occupation Children are published in the volume as well. In the audience were also Kurt Scholz (Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Future Fund of the Republic of Austria), Austrian historian and professor emeritus Gerald Stourzh (Free University of Berlin and University of Vienna) and Former Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann.