“Psychosocial consequences of being a “child born of occupation” during and after WWII – an empirical German study”

A German group of researchers from the universities of Leipzig and Greifswald is starting the first study of psychosocial consequences of growing up as a “child born of occupation” after WWII in Germany. “Occupation children” (“Besatzungskinder” in German) are a subgroup of the “children born of war”. They share the background of procreation – being born of a more or less voluntary sexual relationship (including rape) of a local woman and a foreign soldier. At the end of WWII and during the post war period it is approximated that more than 200,000 of these children were born in Germany. During the last years there have been historical and sociological studies that described aversive conditions for growing up which many of these children report. It is commonly agreed on, that “occupation children” were confronted with aversive experiences such as social exclusion and discrimination during their childhood. It is expected, that these conditions may have adverse long-term effects on identity development and psychological well-being. However, research on psychosocial aspects is missing to date in Germany, and internationally. Our study aims at closing this gap of knowledge to raise attention for this population, to increase transparency of their situation and thus of the situation of “children born of war” worldwide. In our study, we survey about 100 German “Besatzungskinder” with a questionnaire on psychosocial consequences, stigma experience and identity development. The extensive mixed-method assessment includes standardised instruments (e.g. PHQ-15) and an elaborated part concerning diverse constructs, such as knowledge about the biological background and internalised stigma aspects. The latter section was self-developed and derived from existing topic-related questionnaires. Furthermore, some of the subjects completing the questionnaire will be asked to participate in a narrative biographic interview.