A small, yellow piece of paper only. A, Rainer Gessert still sad and angry. With restless fingers, he pulls from a folder of old photographs and faded letters, throws him on the blue-patterned ceiling of his garden table, as if it were an indictment.

On the notes Rénald Raimond Gaston Denolf, born. 21.3. In 1915, Lille.

More than these meager, hastily scribbled information Rainer Gesserts mother Rosemarie has never given a price on the man she once loved, but not talking could be. He remained for Rainer Gessert for decades, a shadow. The man was his father.

The reason: Rénald Denolf was a Frenchman, a prisoner of war of the Germans. In the Nazi state, it was illegal and dangerous to life, to love the enemy, worse still, to conceive children with him. Who did it, the “military force decomposition” guilty. It threatened fines, but at least the social exclusion of German women who cohabited with prisoners of war, were shaved like witches bare their villages transmissions, it gave witness later time.


Rosemarie Gessert-in-law about their French lovers, as the Nazi Empire was gone. Although her secret anyway, almost everyone in the 300-soul village of Slate in the today’s Mecklenburg-knew-Western Pomerania. “Well, there’s the little Frenchman comes, Yes!” called the times of the GDR the children, who meant well, Rainer, Gessert.

The other taunted him as a “Bastard”.

“children of shame” were called in France, the descendants, the Wehrmacht soldiers had witnessed the occupation with the French. About these children a number of books have appeared, for a while, discussed the whole country on shame, lies, and the burden of a lost youth.

conversely, however, the fates of the children, the French prisoners of war with German women testified to, up to now hardly known, and fill any books or studies. Some of the “French kids” are now well over 70 years old and suspect little of their own history. Others despair at the fact.

101 “French children” in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

A search for the forgotten children leads to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. There a number of prisoners of war from France were interned, and about 10,000 Frenchmen, alone in the main camp, II E in Schwerin. Unlike the Russian prisoners who wanted to starve the Nazi Regime and the death toil, were allowed to leave, many French people during the day of the camp. They worked in the fields and in the forests, ate with German families, which was officially banned. Some had not returned in the evening to the camp, but remained subject to the reporting requirement. They stayed, sometimes imprisoned, on farms and in factories.

The German women, a long time, were grateful for the forced laborers. Their men were away for years at the Front, caught, missed or dropped. And many Germans fell in love with a helper from France.

list in the Schwerin archive (shelfmark: Best. 6.11-21 no. 3936)

the frequency of such illicit liaisons occurred, lists of the country’s main archive Schwerin imagine, and they show only a small part of the cases. The names of 101 children, who “have been produced by members of the French and Belgian Nation”. In September 1947 the French of the allied control Council in Berlin, part of the allied occupation government had sought, targeted to these children in Mecklenburg. The youth services should “report immediately” all cases “on a list” to assist the mothers with donations.

The father of the “just missed”

Rainer stand Gessert on the list. However, shame and Silence remained in his family. It was only when he was a young man and no longer forms a line with his father, as there had never been a first as a Gessert, therefore, again and again nachhakte, there was this yellow piece of paper. And without a word, his mother had left behind him on the kitchen table.

“I knew, and that was it for you permanently,” he recalled of the hurtful Moment. “It would have been your fucking duty to give me answers. I would have never asked, okay. But

increases Gessert, baffled, even after decades. He lives in a more than 100-year-old house with a large garden, cooks with a beautiful, coal-fired stove. The 73-Year-old likes it cozy. He lives in an Idyll, which he lacked as a child.

Rainer Gessert

“A mother in the real sense I never had,” he says. “You didn’t work in your area, and more.” Whether the father is different, warmer, warm? As Gessert, finally, could seek after him, and his place of residence in 1997 find made, his father was already dead. For the past seven years.

“Seven years,” he repeats. “Actually, I missed him just barely.” Maybe, he hopes, he finds one of his four French half-siblings. Two have already died, whether and where the other two lives, is unclear.

only a few letters and photos of Rénald Denolf, some from the estate of his mother. They show a smiling man with thick hair in winter clothes and boots on a snowy field. On the back is in French: “my love forever”.

letters without response

Rénald and Rosemarie. He was already married in France, you are unbound, when they met. An unusual photo is evidence of the forbidden love affair (see the photo gallery) : lightly dressed, the two are in the grain fields, she looks at him dearly. Rénald was made in the village is indispensable, because he could fix anything, wearing only a pair of shorts. You can see his well-toned torso, the left Arm he has wrapped around rosemary’s shoulder, on the right Hand he is wearing his wedding ring.

A dangerous recording. Rainer Gessert believes that the two were caught in flagrante delicto, by Rainer Herbst, the forestry foreman in the village. “Hey, autumn,” called him all, and he would have been able to tell the Couple, such as when the large farmers cock, a SA-man, on whose farm the Frenchman lived.

Instead, happy Hau-autumn friends “” with Rénald and also helped him after the war: He translated the letters, Rénald, back in France and soon divorced, Rosemarie wrote.

As his “Rosi” had been made, he wanted to know and told of his difficult time in Lille. His house was destroyed, he’s bad. The most Important thing at the end of his address.

Rénald Knew anything of his son?

Rosemarie but wanted no more contact with the man who might not even suspect anything of his illegitimate son. Because Rainer was born shortly before the end of the war, on 21. April 1945; his mother was gone for months in the village of Slate, but worked in Schwerin as a hospital nurse.

pregnant has not seen Rénald you probably, before he returned in may 1945, after France. The two never met again; eight years later, Rosemarie is married to a German.

related articles private GI is not looking for lost son: Todd’s late repentance of The German sleeps private love in the seventies: “in our house!” Annette Hauschild/Ostkreuz Nazi crimes: Because Kissing to a concentration camp

Much of this can only be to reconstruct, because an Unknown decades later before Gesserts door: It was the daughter of the “Hau-autumn”, which had some of the letters from France kept until his death.

For Rainer these letters will replace Gessert never in contact with the father or the conversations with the mother. But he guards them like a treasure.

The fixed execution: “Sudden cardiac death” on the death certificate – click here to read how a woman from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania died because of her affair with a Frenchman, most probably under the guillotine.

Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.