Is Poland a forgotten country

Child robbery Forgotten victims from Poland: Nazis robbed them of identity and childhood

As Lüdeking discovered much later, his identity was changed in the "Sonnenwiese" children's home near Kohren-Sahlis south of Leipzig. The home belonged to the SS association "Lebensborn", which was not only responsible for increasing the birth rate of "Aryan" children, but also for the forced Germanization of children kidnapped from Eastern Europe. The names and dates of birth of the children were changed: Roman Roszatowski was made Hermann and Maria Lüdeking, a member of the NSDAP, was handed over. Until now, Hermann alias Roman does not know his roots. "That worries you," says the retired engineer who now lives in Bad Dürrheim in the Black Forest.

I still suffer today from not knowing who my parents are.

The fight for compensation

Hermann Lüdeking is involved in the association "Stolen Children - Forgotten Victims" and for years has campaigned for compensation for the children kidnapped from the occupied countries and forcibly Germanized. But now he had to give up. As the last instance, the Federal Administrative Court decided against compensation payments.

Previously, the federal government and the petitions committee of the Bundestag rejected Lüdeking's demands. The Federal Ministry of Finance wrote in a statement in 2013: "Fate affected a large number of families in the course of the war and served the war strategy. It was not primarily aimed at the destruction or deprivation of liberty of those affected, but rather to win them over for their own benefit the general fate of the war. "

The Petitions Committee of the Bundestag, on the other hand, refers to the financial support of almost 40,000 euros from the "Remembrance, Responsibility, Future" foundation for the traveling exhibition about the fate of the stolen children, who would have seen 4,000 people in Freiburg alone. But that is neither compensation nor moral reparation, says Hermann Lüdeking indignantly.

The exact number of victims has been a contentious issue for many years. In Poland, the number is 200,000. It comes from Roman Hrabar, a Polish lawyer who was the "government representative for the repatriation of kidnapped children" after the Second World War. However, Hrabar included all Polish children in Germany, for example the children of the thousands of female forced laborers, some of whom had their children taken away in order to integrate them into German society.

In the film "Child Robbery by the Nazis - The Forgotten Victims" the number 20,000 is mentioned. The source for this is Professor Isabel Heinemann from the University of Münster. For her dissertation, she evaluated the files that can still be found today - and extrapolated these numbers. As far as the authors of the MDR film are aware, no Polish historian has ever again dealt with the concretization of the figures after Hrabar.

No moral reparation

The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia shows how it can be done differently, paying the girl Janina Kunsztowicz, who was stolen from Poland and renamed Kunze from the Lebensborn Association, a compensation of 3,600 euros. This also happened thanks to the work of the association "Stolen Children - Forgotten Victims". The money was paid out from the state's own hardship funds to support Nazi victims. Throughout Germany, however, thousands of "stolen children" went away empty-handed. They are not entitled to any fundamental compensation from the federal government.

Hermann Lüdeking's efforts to obtain financial compensation have also failed. He is bitter that in Poland, Austria and Norway, for example, the children who had been kidnapped have received compensation. Just not in Germany.

Above all, it is about the moral reparation that we are recognized as victims in Germany at all. If that takes a little longer, then everything will be done biologically in five years.

Hermann Lüdeking

"As if I were alone in the world: The National Socialist child robbery in Poland"; by Agnieszka Waś-Turecka, Ewelina Karpińska-Morek, Monika Sieradzka, Artur Wróblewski, Tomasz Majta, Michał Drzonek; Verlag Herder, 1st edition 2020.