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‘Youth Off the Rails’: Teenage Girls and German Soldiers — A Case Study in Occupied Denmark, 1940–1945

  • Lulu Anne Hansen
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)

Abstract

In late March 1943 the police in Esbjerg, Denmark’s fifth largest town, uncovered what they considered a sex orgy involving up to six local girls between the ages of 15 and 22. The Childcare Services in Esbjerg were contacted by the police following the incident, which had taken place in an apartment where the police found four girls ‘home alone’ in the company of four ‘half naked German soldiers’.1 The girls were placed in a local workhouse until their parents could be contacted, and the following day they were questioned concerning the incident. One 16-year-old girl lived in the apartment and told the police that German soldiers had visited her before while her parents were present. Her father confirmed this, stating that he did not see anything wrong with having German soldiers visit and that he considered it better than having his daughter running loose in the street. It later turned out that the girl was, in fact, often present at the local train station when the German trains carrying troops rolled in. One of the other girls admitted to having had sexual relations with a German soldier since the age of 14, but insisted that she now only had sexual relations with Danes.

Keywords

Young Girl Sexual Relation Underground Press Danish Woman Childcare Service 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 3.
    A. Warring, Tyskerpiger – under besœttelse og retsopgør (København, 1994).Google Scholar
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  3. F. Virgili, Shorn Women: Gender and Punishment in Liberation France (New York, 2002).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    M. Diederichs, ‘Stigma and Silence: Dutch Women, German Soldiers and Their Children’, in K. Ericsson, ed., Children of World War II: The Hidden Enemy Legacy (Oxford, 2005), pp. 151–164, 52.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Unfortunately, no register exists from which it is possible to single out the relevant cases. Furthermore, the cases are only somewhat chronologically organized, which means that some cases from the occupation will have been left out. On the other hand, the necessity of reviewing each singular case made it possible to establish an overall view of the subjects and motivations at play over time. For the background on the development of the CCS in Esbjerg see J. Holst, et al., Fra børnehjem til familie-institution. Socialpœdagogiske strømninger gennem 100 år med udgangspunkt i Esbjerg Børnehjem (Esbjerg, 1992).Google Scholar
  6. Also Anne Løkke’s study – although dealing with the years before the World War II – provides useful insight into the development of formalized evaluations within the CCS in Denmark and it has served as a reference to compare the procedures used within the institution in Esbjerg. A. Løkke, Vildfarne Børn – om forsømte og kriminelle børn mellem filantropi og stat 1880–1920 (Holte, 1990).Google Scholar
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    Michel Foucault has developed the concept of investigative, ‘confessional’ practices and pointed to the development of a ‘confessional science’. This analytical frame provides an opening to dealing with the CCS’s reports and evaluations. M. Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. I (London, 1978), pp. 53–80.Google Scholar
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    For an overview of the political situation in Denmark during the occupation see H. Kirchhoff, Samarbejde og modstand under besœttelsen. En politisk historie (Odense, 2001).Google Scholar
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    This number does not consider the inclusion of the municipality of Jerne in April 1945. S. Henningsen, Esbjerg under den anden verdenskrig 1939–45 (Esbjerg, 1955).Google Scholar
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    The question of how the Third Reich’s views on sexuality influenced the perceptions of the occupying forces in Denmark needs further research. Dagmar Herzog has pointed to the very liberal views (for racially approved heterosexuals) expressed in Das Schwarze Korps. D. Herzog, ‘Hubris and Hypocrisy, Incitement and Disavowal: Sexuality and German Fascism’, in D. Herzog, ed., Sexuality and German Fascism (New York, 2004), pp. 11f. The reference in Land og Folk indicates that such expressions were read and caused reactions.Google Scholar
  24. 39.
    Kjersti Ericsson has dealt with the Childcare Services in Norway in the postwar period. She points to research showing that the idea of wandering girls and immoral behaviour were closely linked in the eyes of the Childcare Services. K. Ericsson, Drift og dyd. Kontrollen af jenter på femtitallet (Oslo, 1997), pp. 52f. My research concerning Esbjerg shows a more ambiguous picture. Wandering girls were not necessarily considered immoral. However, there was concern that their wandering would lead to immoral behaviour.Google Scholar
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    Ericsson has emphasized that the traditional family functioned as a primary support system and social safety net at the same time as exercising power and suppression. This somewhat changed in the postwar period as the family unit was individualized. The development has clear parallels in Denmark. K. Ericsson, Barnevern som samfunnsspeil (Oslo, 1996), pp. 19f.Google Scholar
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    In the case of France, Richard Vinen has alluded to a close connection between working for the Germans and establishing intimate encounters. R. Vinen, The Unfree French. Life under the Occupation (London, 2006), p. 163.Google Scholar
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    Of the 51 percent stating that they preferred German soldiers to Danish men, 19.1 percent gave the courtly manners of the Germans as their reason for doing so. G. Hartmann, The Girls They Left Behind (Copenhagen, 1946), p. 61. For an analysis of Hartmann’s results see Warring, 1994, pp. 31ff.Google Scholar
  28. 58.
    In fact, Mokka was in October 1943 targeted by members of the communistled sabotage organization BOPA killing one German and injuring several Danish girls. E. Kjeldbæk, Sabotageorganisationen BOPA 1942–1945 (Copenhagen, 1997), pp. 181f.Google Scholar
  29. 60.
    The concept of subcultural capital has been applied in contemporary sociology to supplement Bourdieu’s theory of capital. It has proven useful for understanding the strategies of action chosen by girls at the margins of the education system. See for instance E. Bullen and J. Kenway, ‘Bourdieu, Subcultural Capital and Risky Girlhood’, Theory and Research in Education, 3/1 (2005), 41–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    F. Virgili, Shorn Women: Gender and Punishment in Liberation France (New York, 2002), pp. 201f.Google Scholar
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    K. Fleron, Afsporet Ungdom: En Appel til danske forœldre (Kobenhavn, 1942). The book has inspired the title of this Chapter.Google Scholar
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    A. Warring, ‘Med kønnet som prisme – om modernitet og antimodernitet i mellemkrigstidens Danmark’, in T. Kruse, ed., Historiske kulturstudier: Tradition – modernitet – antimodernitet (Roskilde, 2003), pp. 181–208.Google Scholar
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    K. Auken, Undersøgelser over unge Kvinders sexuelle Adfœrd (Copenhagen, 1953), p. 354.Google Scholar
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    Ungdomskommissionen, Betankning om den tilflyttede Ungdoms sœrlige Problemer (København, 1948), p. 14. On the work of the comission see, H. S. Madsen, Farlig Ungdom. Samfundet, ungdommen og ungdomskommissionen 1945–1970 (Gylling, 2003).Google Scholar

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© Lulu Anne Hansen 2009

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  • Lulu Anne Hansen

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