The Lebensborn Children of Norway and the Silencing of their Voices by an International Court: An Analysis of the 2007 European Court of Human Rights Decision in Werner Hermann Thiermann and others v. Norway

By Sonja Grover.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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This paper analyzes the 2007 European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision on admissibility of the case Werner Hermann Thiermann and others v. Norway concerning children born of Nazi fathers (the occupiers)and Norwegian mothers during WWII. The children (frequently referred to as ‘war children’) were the product of the Nazi Lebensborn maniacal eugenics program. The estimates of the number of such ‘war children’ in Norway alone are between 10,000- 12,000 and estimates run as high as one million in Europe as a whole of such children born to German fathers. The political and psychological factors which likely inappropriately contributed to the ECHR ruling the Thiermann case inadmissible for an alleged failure of the complainants to exhaust domestic (State) law remedies are discussed. It is argued that Norway’s failure to institute post-WWII measures which would have protected the war children from discrimination makes the State of Norway complicit in allowing a system of 'apartheid' regarding these children to exist within the State of Norway. Apartheid is itself an international crime and there is no time limitation on the victim’s right to justice in such circumstances; including receiving fair pecuniary and non-pecuniary reparations from the State for such victimization. The implications of the ECHR admissibility decision in Thiermann for our understanding of the child as a person in his or her own right with an identity separate and apart from that of the parents (as acknowledged in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child) while an identity in some ways also connected to that of the parents is also discussed.

Keywords: European Court of Human Rights, Children’s Human Rights, International Human Rights Law, Norwegian War Children, Lebensborn Children

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 8, pp.25-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 669.055KB).

Dr. Sonja Grover

Professor, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Sonja Grover is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Lakehead University. She has published extensively in the area of children’s human rights and human rights generally. She has a special interest in marginalized child groups. Her human rights and international law books include “Children’s Human Rights: Challenging Global Barriers to the Child Liberation Movement” (Sandstone Academic Press, 2007), “The Child’s Right to Legal Standing” (Lexis Nexis, 2008); “Prosecuting International Crimes and Human Rights Abuses Committed Against Children: Leading International Court Cases” (Springer, 2009), “The European Court of Human Rights as a Pathway to Impunity for International Crimes”(Springer, 2010), “Young People’s Human Rights and the Politics of Voting Age” (Springer, 2010), “Schoolchildren as propaganda tools in the war on terror:Violating the rights of Afghani children under international law” (in press).

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