Tuesday 15 March 2016

East Prussia's Wolfskinder

Living in East Prussia during the Second World War, Rob's Oma always feared that her children would be orphaned if she were killed by an Allied bomb or by a disease.  That fear became a reality for many East Prussian children who were either orphaned, kidnapped, abandonned or raped during the latter stages and after the Second World War.  These children, called the wolfskinder, fled into the neighbouring forest and scourged for food like wolves.

Some of the wolfskinder fled to Lithuania where they were unofficially adopted by farmers. However, all efforts to aid them had to be hidden as the Soviet authorities had proclaimed that there were no longer any Germans living in the area.  Lithuanian farmers who sold their goods in East Prussia in 1946, looking for wolfskinder to aid them, would reward them for their efforts.  Many were condemned to roam, beg and steal.  Some rode the rails, hoping off before they reached an official station.  Others died from starvation, cold or typhus.

Liesabeth Otto, a wolfskinder, lost her mother to starvation after the war.  She returned to her hometown of Wehlau with her brothers and sisters where she begged and worked until 1953. Arrested for stealing, she was sentence dto a detention camp.  Later she looked for work in the USSR. It was not until the 1970's that she was reunited with her father in West Germany.

For more information, read:

1.  The Wolfskinder of East Prussia by Ruth Kibelka at http://www.alibris.co.uk/sear ch/books/subject/World-Refugees-1945-Prussia-East-Poland-and-Russia/paperback.
2.  Abandonned and Forgotten:  An Orphan Girl's Tale of Survival in World War Two by Evelyne Tannehill.
3.  Wolfskinder movie (2013) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1eSII_I2eI.
4.  Wolfskinder:  A Post War Story by Claudia Heinermann at http://www.wolfskinder.eu/?lang=en.

Wolfskinder circa 1946/1947 courtesy http://www.revisionist.net/images/wolfskind.jpg.

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