Introduction: Germans who were children during World War II tended not to discuss their experiences, which
were often quite traumatic. As they reached their sixties these “war children” began to show signs of posttraumatic
reactions and other psychiatric problems.
Goals: To describe the characteristics of the German war children—those who were children in Germany during World
War II and the Nazi government—and discuss the reasons why these children never brought into language their traumatic
wartime and post-war experiences for many decades after the war.
Methods: The author reviews the research on this topic as well as his own findings based on interviews with these war
children, and offers hypotheses as to why they did not discuss their wartime experiences.
Results: This generation was afflicted by traumatic experiences, an inability to mourn, and guilt over their inability to do
anything about their parents’ privations and sufferings. In addition, the ethos of the strength of German children, and the
parents’ guilt over the Nazi atrocities, rendered them unable to recognize their children’s distress. German war children
were indeed victims of war, and although not comparable to the victims of Nazi terror, they have suffered lasting
consequences that are only now being recognized, as their collective silence comes to an end.