Norway’s ‘German Girls’

After the occupation of Norway, German soldiers were encouraged to form relationships with the country’s women (left) but when the war ended, the girls face bitter retribution by their fellow countrymen (right).

In A Dangerous Act of Kindness, Millie Sanger discovers that you can’t always help who you fall in love with. During the Second World War, thousands of Norwegian women faced the same moral dilemma.

Nearly eighty years ago this month, the Royal Navy took on the Kriegsmarine at Narvik. A month earlier, Hitler had ordered the invasion of Norway but during this first naval battle, Germany lost two destroyers and retired when the third was badly damaged. The naval commanders on both sides were killed in the battle.

More determined than ever to defeat the Germans, a new wave of forces arrived in the Ofotfijord on 13 April 1940. Three German destroyers were sunk and the German crews scuttling many of their own ships when they ran out of fuel. These two battles halved the destroyer strength of the Kriegsmarine.

Despite these early victories, the Allies were forced to withdraw their defence of the country when France fell. Norway was occupied by Germany.

SS leader Heinrich Himmler approved of Norwegian women. They epitomised many of the desired attributes of the Aryan master race and occupying soldiers were encouraged to have children with them. It’s thought that 50,000 women had relationships with German soldiers. These so called ‘German Girls’ faced bitter reprisals when the war ended and they were accused of betraying their country.

In 2018 Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg apologised on behalf of the country for this mistreatment. “For many,” she said, “this was just a teenage love, for some, the love of their lives with an enemy soldier or an innocent flirt that left its mark for the rest of their lives.”

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