Children of war and love (1940-1945)

Children of war and love (1940-1945)

VUB historian’s research emphasises the need for recognition of war children born today

The non-profit Auschwitz Foundation - Remembrance of Auschwitz and Belgium’s State Archives (CegeSoma) present the latest book by VUB researcher Dr Gerlinda Swillen, La valise oubliée: Enfants de guerre (1940-1945) (The Forgotten Suitcase: Children of War). The book tells the stories of children born from romances between Belgian women and Wehrmacht soldiers. Through her scientific work, Swillen wants to draw attention to the difficult situation such children still face today, as she strives to achieve an internationally recognized status for people in this position. “These children are often stateless and lawless; their mothers are not protected at all.”


Dr Gerlinda Swillen is a scientific collaborator at Vrije Universiteit Brussel and associated researcher at CegeSoma. Her book intends to preserve the memory of children born of war. Seventy life stories are pieced together step by step, through conversations, discoveries of hidden letters, and forgotten photos. In almost all these stories, the father is a mystery, a secret preciously guarded within the family.

Swillen herself is the child of a Wehrmacht soldier and a Belgian woman. In 2010, she acquired German nationality, becoming the first Belgian war child to do so. She is the founder and former president of the Association of Belgian War Children (2008-2013) and was spokesperson of the Born Of War international network from 2009 to 2013. With her research and publications, Swillen wants to gain internationally recognised status for children born in war situations.



La valise oubliée: Enfants de guerre (1940-1945). Interview with Dr Gerlinda Swillen by Alain Colignon, in presence of several war children

Date: Monday 21 January, 14.30

Venue: CegeSoma, Square de l’Aviation 29, 1070 Brussels

Language: French

Registration: required at or 02 556 92 11

Contact - 02 218 62 54

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