Older children of collaborators have all – either to a greater or lesser extent – experienced the horrors of war. As is the case in other groups too, these memories take their toll, even today. These memories have in fact become even more intense in recent years.
After ‘Dolle Dinsdag’ (Tuesday 5 September 1944, the day on which the NSB, the Dutch NS Party, started to panic and the population started a warm welcome for their liberators – in translation that day is labelled mad Tuesday) many children fled to Germany with (one of) their parents where they travelled from one refugee camp to another. Their welcome in Germany was far from hospitable: they all had to be housed and fed.
Wartime experiences differ greatly from one person to another: the main elements of all those experiences are being in danger while away from the security of your own home, being a displaced person, not being welcome anywhere, and being utterly powerless to do anything at all about the situation you find yourself in.
Rejection and hatred, both during and after the war
During the war, many school-going children of collaborators were either ignored or provoked on account of the political choice their parents had made. Even adults were guilty of this kind of behavior. When the war came to an end these reactions became even more frequent and more intense.
Foster home or children’s home
Some children spent time in internment camps with (one of) their parents. Many children of collaborators were taken into foster homes or children’s homes for a while in 1945. [Some till 1947]. Treatment in these places left a great deal to be desired; it was often impersonal or downright scornful and generally humiliating.
School and job interviews
Many of these children of collaborators failed to complete training courses they had started out on, or received less schooling than they wished. This was often due to the fact that confiscation of goods and possessions had brought their parents into financial difficulty. Older children had no other alternative than to help by going out to work. Immediately after the war (but even recently as well) several people were rejected when applying for a job because of their parents’ past history.
Scapegoat mechanism, and isolation
Negative reactions on the part of neighbors are often the reason why children of collaborators refuse to discuss their experiences. The fear of being disapproved of, like their parents, is enormous, even among those who have never experienced any sign of hatred in their immediate surroundings.