Raising Awareness About the Wolf Children

The for so long hidden and forgotten victims of World War 2 are slowly getting more visible through media, school projects and exhibitions – at least in Germany and Lithuania. Now, two permanent exhibitions about the Wolf Children are planned in Lithuania.
SILUTE, LITHUANIA - The destiny of the Wolf Children was first publicly known after the release of the book “Wolfskinder Grenzgänger an der Memel” in 1996 (in English “Wolf Children. Wanderers on the border”).

The author of the book, Ruth Leiserowitz-Kibelka, is a recognized German historian. She grew up in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), and did not have the possibility to take an education before the Berlin Wall collapsed. This was because she was active in civil rights’ organisations.

A “House of Wolf Children”

Now she leads the work with collecting stories, documents, letters and photographs for a permanent exhibition about Wolf Children near the border to former East Prussia (Kaliningrad).

The organizer of this new “House of Wolf Children” is Ricardas Savickas, who is the son of one of the Wolf Children. It is planned that the exhibition will be accompanied by educational programmes especially aimed at school classes.

The first Lithuanian exhibition about the Wolf Children took place in a church in the same area last summer.

Permanent exhibition

Also in the town of Silute, the local museum wants to focus on the destiny of the Wolf Children, of which many landed in this region of Lithuania.

“It is a difficult task to visualize it. What we got is stories and a few photos. Mostly we do not know where and when the photos are made, and who is on them”, says Rosa Siksniene, the head of the Museum of Silute.

But the collecting of material is still going on. An own hall is dedicated to the history of the Wolf Children, and the exhibition will be installed when the EU supported renovation of the museum building is complete.

There is no competition between the two planned exhibitions:

“We are actually cooperating”, says Siksniene.

School project

Last year, a group of pupils from a local school exhibited their project about Wolf Children in the museum.

“The theme of the project was whether the war was over after the signing of the peace treaty. We found out that there were still living old German war refugees in our town, and we even got to interview one lady”, says the teacher Jurate Guseviene, who think it is very important that we are aware of all innocent victims of war.

 “When I grew up in Jurbarkas, which is near the border to Kaliningrad, there were so many children with ‘funny’ names as Ruth, Edith and Karl. Those names are not common in Lithuania. In the latter years I have realised that these must have been the sons and daughters of the Wolf Children, which escaped from Kaliningrad after 1945.” says the Lithuanian teacher Jurate Guseviene and confesses;

“They lived in my neighbourhood, but I did first know about these Germans in Lithuania in 1993, after the Wolf Children organisation was established and they appeared in the newspapers”.

Until now only in Germany

Several books about Wolf Children are now available in German. So are also a number of TV programmes and documentaries. One of the latest ones is the docudrama “The Children of Flight”, which was sent on the channel ZDF this winter.

By now, the only country which has given the Wolf Children serious attention since they revealed their real identities after 1991, seems to be Germany - and Lithuania to a certain degree.

“I did never translate my work into other languages than Lithuanian, but the interest in other countries (read: English-speaking) was pretty low as well”, says Leiserowitz-Kibelka to Euroviews.

Who said we must never forget?