Wolfskinder by Claudia Heinermann


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Wolfskinder by Claudia Heinermann

Wolf children (German: Wolfskinder) was the name given to a group of orphaned German children at the end of World War II in East Prussia.

When the Red Army conquered East Prussia in 1945, thousands of German children were left on their own, because their parents had been killed during bombing raids or during harsh winters without any food or shelter. Older children often tried to keep their siblings together, and survival—searching for food and shelter—became their number-one priority. Many went on food-scrounging trips into neighboring Lithuania and were adopted by the rural Lithuanian farmers, who often employed them. Most of these children made these trips back and forth many times to get food for their sick mothers or siblings. They were called “Wolfskinder” because of their wolf-like wandering through the forests and along railroad tracks, sometimes catching rides on top or in between railroad cars, jumping off before reaching Soviet control stations. All who assisted the German children to survive had to hide their efforts from the Soviet occupation authorities in Lithuania. Therefore, many German children”s names were changed, and only after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 could they reveal their true identities.

“Most of the Wolfskinder became orphans by war and flight in the stage of child. They had to care for themselves and find out how to survive. Many reached Lithuania, where they worked at farms to gain their living. Most had no chance for school education. A larger part never got lessons to write or read. In many cases, the children got new Lithuanian pre- and family names and became Lithuanians. There was no choice, as it was forbidden for them to opt as Germans.”

Some hundred Wolfskinder were discovered in Lithuania after the separation from Russia. Today almost 80 still live there. From the beginning of the 1990s on, Wolf children have fought for their German citizenship. They have their own association. The Federal Office of Administration within the Federal Ministry of the Interior (Germany) held for a long time to the standpoint that persons who left Königsberg territory after World War II had renounced their German citizenship

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Weight 2.850 kg