THE FOOTBOARD TRAVELLERS: Some German Wolf Children reached Lithuania by train. They were named "the footboard travellers", because they jump on to the train when departing and stood on the footboards. This picture is taken just outside Taurage, the first Lithuanian town after the Kaliningrad border.
- In 1944-1945, millions of German Civilians from East-Prussia (what is today Kaliningrad and the eastern part of Poland) and other areas of the Baltics had to flee from the Red Army. Additionally, several hundreds of thousands of Germans were displaced by force from their homes in what are today Polish and Lithuanian territories. The Red Army’s revenge on civilians was merciless.
- There are credible estimates that 25.000 German children lost their parents during the flight, and wandered around in East-Prussia on search for food and work. About 5.000 of these children reached Lithuania.
- Only a few hundred of the children survived. Some were “adopted” by Lithuanian and Russian farmers. They represented free labour force, and were often treated purely as slave workers.
- The Wolf Children were given a new Lithuanian or Russian identity, and many forgot their real names, origin and mother tongue. The Soviet rulers did not allow the adoption of German children. In fear of getting deported to Siberia, those who adopted German kids prohibited them to speak German. Mostly these children did not get a chance to go to school in their new country either.
- After Lithuania had got its independence, a group of former German war refugees gathered in Klaipeda and formed “Edelweiss – Wolfskinder” – the organisation for the Wolf Children – in 1992. The organisation counted about 250 members on its biggest. Today there are less than a hundred German Wolf Children left in Lithuania.
(Sources: Der Spiegel (07/2007), Wolfskinder - Grenzgänger an der Memel (2003: Kibelka) and the organisation for the Wolf Children.)
- Only few Wolf Children returned to Germany after 1991. Those who remained in Lithuania got support from the German authorities until 2005, when Lithuania had joined the European Union. Today (in 2007) they receive Lithuanian monthly pensions between €28 and €200.