Thousands of Norwegian women who suffered various forms of persecution for having started amorous relations with German soldiers during the five-year Nazi occupation have received a state apology from Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
"Several thousand women called 'German girls' or 'German lasses' were detained, deprived of citizenship and sent out of the country. Without law or judgment. The Norwegian authorities treated them in an unworthy manner. The rule of law failed them," Erna Solberg said in her official apology, as quoted by the daily newspaper Aftenposten.
The excuse is based on an investigation by the Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies and is presented as part of the 70th anniversary of the UN Human Rights Declaration. It applies to documented offenses committed by Norwegian authorities. According to Solberg, the apology will make it easier to pay compensations.
The exact number of "German girls" is up for debate. Estimates vary between 30,000 and 100,000 Norwegian women. Subsequently, between 10,000 and 12,000 Norwegian-German children were born, 8,000 of whom were registered by Lebensborn, a Nazi German SS-initiated association aimed at raising "Aryan" children. A typical estimate is therefore that around 50,000 Norwegian women had a relationship with men in the German military service, which corresponds to about ten percent of Norwegian women aged 18-35 at the time.
Subsequently, many of these women were arrested by Norwegian police, often in mass arrests without individual trials. In Oslo alone, around a thousand women were detained by the Norwegian police in May 1945. Thousands were put in prison-like detention camps, where they were forced to carry out forced labor and give birth to their children. Hundreds of the "German girls" were deported to Germany across the mine-strewn North Sea.
The prime minister drew attention to the fact that many of them were deprived of their Norwegian citizenship, which she found "completely unfair."
"Many were ordered to leave the country. This had major consequences, as many died abroad. This, together with detention and arrest without trial, is the basis for the apology," Solberg said. According to her, the apology applies to state-backed assault, not acts of "mob justice."
By contrast, the 28 Norwegian men who married women in the German service didn't suffer any punishment whatsoever.
In 2012, then-Prime Minister and current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg apologized to Norwegian Jews for the treatment they received during World War II. In the period 1942-1945, 772 Norwegian Jews and Jewish refugees were arrested and deported to Nazi Germany, of whom only 34 survived.