Germany's war children scramble to find their GI fathers

BERLIN -- They were offspring of romance in the occupation era, born to German women who had flings with American GIs -- sometimes for love, sometimes for a moment's passion, and sometimes, in the hardest days immediately after World War II, for a few packs of cigarettes or a pair of nylon stockings.

Johnny went marching home, often leaving no forwarding address or even a full name. Perhaps unaware of the pregnancy.

His lover was left to face disapproving parents and neighbors. Or a German soldier-husband returning from the front.

The children were known as occupation babies. No one missed the meaning of the euphemism: Occupation bastards.

The unlucky ones were dumped into orphanages, taunted as ''little Amis," the not-quite-affectionate term for conquering Yanks. Others were handed off to relatives. But most were raised by a resigned and often deeply reticent mother in a society in which birth out of wedlock remained scandalous. Bearing the illicit child of an American soldier carried even darker shame.

''Times were different, difficult," said Ute Baur-Timmerbrink, 59, the progeny of a love affair whose secrets her mother took to the grave. ''There was an attitude that these girls were sleeping with the enemy and only got what they deserved."

The occupation children, as they grew older, were told not to ask questions.

''My earliest memory is of wondering, 'Who is my father?' " said Herbert Hack, 53, son of a young rural woman who fell hard for a good-looking GI. ''I would beg my mother for answers, and she'd just say, 'Ssssh,' Until finally, when I turned 15, she told me: 'There was an American soldier. His name was Charles. One night we went dancing . . .' "

That's usually all these children had: Stories so short that they were barely stories at all.

Now time is ticking out. The occupation babies are middle-aged men and women. Their fathers' generation is filling obituary pages from Boston to Bakersfield. And some of these GI offspring -- or their grandchildren -- are seeking fuller versions.

Most hope only to glean enough information to fill in the most glaring blank spaces.

''I want so much to finally put a face to this mystery figure who has loomed over my family without ever being there," said Simone Mandl, 35, granddaughter of a GI and a married German woman. ''He was an American soldier who had an affair with my grandmother while her husband was away at war. Their romance was tragic. Yet I believe she never stopped loving her American."

But some occupation offspring want more from their missing forebear -- formal recognition of paternity, information about genetic disease, even a new identity in their father's image.

Franz Anthoefer, a 55-year-old cargo pilot, is determined to win one hard inheritance from his father: US citizenship. His obsessive and so-far unsuccessful quest has spanned more than three decades. ''I grew up in an orphanage, where they called me 'little Ami,' " he said. ''So, OK, this is what I will become: an American for real -- an American like my father."

Best estimates are that 66,000 illegitimate children of GIs and German women were born in American-occupied zones from 1946 to 1956, according to historian Johannes Kleinschmidt, author of a book about US-German ''fraternization" issues.

US occupation officials usually could offer little help to distraught German women with swelling bellies trying to track down ''Bill from Indiana" or ''John Baker, he drove a jeep."

The tales of these women and their children are distinct from those of the ''war brides" -- the German women who married their GIs and sailed off to bright, respectable futures in middle-class America.

''They were affairs that had no real possibility of permanence. In some ways, these long-ago loves belong to the past, like the war itself," Baur-Timmerbrink said. ''But they also carry down to the present."

Simone Mandl

Simone Mandl's mother, Erika Frey, was born in 1946 in the small city of Heidenheim, in southern Germany. Erika's mother -- and Simone's grandmother -- was Elfriede Frey, who knew little of Erika's father beyond his name, Arthur Anderson.

 ''So many years later -- my mother is dead, my grandmother is dead," said Mandl, an architectural drafter who lives with her husband and their 3-year-old boy on the Baltic island of Ruegen. ''Yet Arthur Anderson lives, at least in my mind. This man who made love with my grandmother. This man who was my mother's father. This man whose blood is in my blood and whose face may show in my son's face."

Anderson's Army unit rolled into Heidenheim in 1945, taking up quarters in the Schiller high school, a few blocks from where Elfriede, married to a German infantryman, lived with her eldest daughter. The war was over, but Elfriede's husband had yet to return from the front. She had not heard from him in a year.

Elfriede may have believed herself a widow; there were so many new widows in that year of grief.

''Or perhaps the loneliness of her life simply became too much," Mandl said. ''She never made excuses. My grandmother said: 'I met this GI. He was quartered near our house on Paul Strasse. We became involved. Then he went away.' "

After her American left, Elfriede's other soldier came home from the war to find his wife pregnant. In a fury, he took their 6-year-old daughter away. Neither husband nor eldest daughter ever spoke to Elfriede again.

Mandl's mother, the occupation baby, was teased and ostracized through her childhood. Elfriede tried to locate Anderson, but had no address, did not know his unit, so finally gave up.

Mandl adored her mother -- who succumbed to breast cancer in 1995 -- and loved her granny, who died in 1990. Her rustic home is filled with happy family snapshots. Missing is Arthur Anderson: There is no photograph, no tangible evidence that he even existed. Just the stories. And, as Mandl said, the blood in her veins.

Last year she and her sister, Claudia, started searching for him using the Internet, contacting international trace groups, armed with just a name and her grandmother's recollections. ''Arthur Anderson will be an old man, of course, and perhaps will not want to hear from this total stranger who is his granddaughter," Mandl said. ''If he says, 'Go away,' I will give him his peace.

''But maybe he would want to know he had a daughter in Germany," she said. ''Maybe he would want to know that he has grandchildren who still speak his name. In my heart, I hope he is the sort of man who would care."

Herbert Hack

Herbert Hack is haunted by the name he never possessed.

At the outset of every school year, each student was required to rise in class and give the name of his mother and father.

''How I dreaded the start of school," he said. ''How I dreaded saying, 'I have no father.' And hearing the laughter."

There was a father, of course. A good-looker named Charles whose framed photograph stands on Hack's desk. He served with the Army's 16th Infantry Regiment, and was based in the Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt, Germany, in 1952.

''So many details," said Hack, owner of a small cab company in Berlin. ''Only missing are the ones that most matter."

Like last name, or hometown. Even Charles's rank is unknown -- the dress uniform he wore on the night he met Hack's mother shows no discernible insignia.

Charles and Johanna Hack met at the traditional February festival in her village of Gochsheim. It was whirlwind love. She was so pretty. He made her laugh. They went dancing one night. They visited her parents on another. There was one more night together, but Hanna -- as Charles would have known her -- is shy on the details. At age 75, she still considers him her one great love.

''They planned a fourth date. But Charles never showed," Hack said. ''The Army told my mother he'd been shipped to Korea."

Hack's search for his father, begun only recently, has become his life's main project. ''My two daughters are grown. I myself am turning old," he said. ''I feel a need to know my father. I want my father to know he has a son."

But he admitted ambivalence. ''I am also frightened," he said. ''What would I say to this man? I don't even speak English. Perhaps I could just give him a hug."

Ute Baur-Timmerbrink

The few clues Baur-Timmerbrink has to the identity of her father come from family friends and shreds of gossip still told in a small town in Austria. There's no fairy-tale glitter to the story -- her mother seems to have been a party girl, living off the largesse of a lieutenant who served as a US war-crimes investigator in Austria from 1945 to 1946.

Most of her life, Baur-Timmerbrink said, was lived amid lies. The decent German man who raised her as his daughter was not her father. Only after his death -- and the death of her mother -- did she stumble upon records that showed she was conceived and born while he was a prisoner of war in Yugoslavia. She started tracking the truth with the tenacity of a bloodhound.

''Growing up, I had a strange sense of family secrets," said Baur-Timmerbrink, a lab technician married to a Berlin lawyer and the mother of two grown sons.

The bare facts are these: Baur-Timmerbrink's parents, Werner and Friedel Kruppe, married in 1936. He was a Wehrmacht sergeant and soon off to war. In 1944, with the Soviet Army closing fast on Hitler's regime, Friedel fled from Germany to Attnang-Puchheim, Austria.

May 1945: Germany surrendered. Friedel stayed put. She and a female friend shared an apartment that seemed fancier than a pair of jobless young women could afford. Late-night parties blared. The staff car of a US officer was often parked outside come morning.

Werner returned from POW camp in 1947 and reunited with his wife. Baur-Timmerbrink was already born. If there was a blow-up, she never heard of it. The family returned to Germany.

Friedel died in 1974. Werner in 1981. In the following years, Baur-Timmerbrink stumbled upon things that made little sense. Snapshots of herself as an infant that bore English-language markings. She traveled to Austria to seek information about her mother's life in Attnang-Puchheim. A family acquaintance there gave her a tattered photo of a young US lieutenant -- check it out, he said.

But she wavered. Until, seven years ago, on her 52d birthday, she contacted her mother's former roommate from that long-ago time in Austria.

''She was reluctant: Why must you dig things up?" Baur-Timmerbrink recalled. ''Then she told me: 'Your father was an American officer.' I cried and cried what felt like all the tears in the world. Because now I knew I wasn't who I thought I was."

The roommate supplied an address in Lexington, N.C. Baur-Timmerbrink wrote to the former officer, a prominent lawyer and stalwart of the Baptist Church. His written response was cryptic, lawyerly, referring to 'rights of privacy.' " He died in 2002, leaving two adopted children in the United States.

''I still have questions for which there may never be answers," Baur-Timmerbrink said. ''A child should know the touch of her father's hand."

Franz Anthoefer

Franz Anthoefer never doubted he'd find his dad. The quest consumed him from childhood days in a German orphanage; consumed him even after his mother, Babette, found full-time work as a cleaning woman that enabled her to reclaim custody of her son. As a teenager, he obsessively watched American movies, imagining that the dialogue and landscapes provided a connection to the father he never knew.

The romance occurred in 1950 when Babette met an ex-GI named Louis G. Craig. He worked for a US agency assisting the tens of thousands of people still displaced in West Germany. He had an apartment near her family's home. It was a short affair; Babette was heartbroken when he returned to the United States. Upon realizing she was pregnant, she wrote him care of the agency.

Anthoefer keeps the letter containing Craig's cold rebuff to his former lover: ''I cannot place you in my recollections."

There must have been a misunderstanding, Anthoefer believes. His father could not have been like that. ''Every day I can remember, I've wanted to be my father's son," said the cargo pilot, who lives with his 85-year-old mother in Bonn. She never married.

In 1971, he followed a paper trail from New York to Washington, D.C., to Weston, W. Va., where Craig had served for years as a notoriously cranky mayor and state legislator. ''This was the dream of my life, finding my father," Anthoefer said.

It turned into the disappointment of his life: Craig had died just weeks earlier, at age 63. Anthoefer later won an exhumation order, undertaken in 1996, that removed a 3-inch section of femur that was shipped off to Brigham Young University for DNA testing. The result: a 99 percent probability that Anthoefer is Craig's son, according to documents provided by the German.

The US government has refused Anthoefer's demands for American citizenship, which he regards as his birthright as the son of an American serviceman. But Anthoefer is still fighting, having clearly inherited his father's stubborn disposition.

In 1997, on a return visit to Weston, he ran for mayor under the name Louis Craig Jr. His visa had expired, however, and he was arrested by US immigration officials before the vote. In federal custody, he staged a hunger strike. He was finally deported, in handcuffs, back to Germany.

''I regard America as literally my fatherland -- the country of my father," he said. ''I simply want to come home."

Petra Krischok of the Globe's Berlin bureau contributed to this report.

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Trying to find the son of Jerry Dean Olds born in Germany

Jerry Dean Olds was in the U.S. Army stationed in Germany in the early 1950's. He met and married a girl that we believe was from East Germany. They had a son, Anthony, that was born to them in Germany. He was shipped back to the states and because of Passport/Visa issues she was not allowed to come with Jerry. Some years passed and he remarried and was discharged from the Army. In the meantime, the mother of Anthony boarded a ship, I believe, and came to the US arriving in NY, to find out that Jerry had remarried. She promptly went back to Germany. During this time, Jerry re-enlisted into the US Air Force. He was killed in Vietnam in 1966. We have been trying to find Anthony through all means possible to us. His grandmothers dying wish was to see this child. We, as his family, want to meet him also.

I don't know if anyone can help me or not, but I am determined to find him. He is and always has been very important to us. We can certainly provide more information to anyone that has any knowledge of Anthony Olds. This was his birth name, but not sure if his mother remarried and possibly raised him as another name. Please contact me at suetaylorh2@wk.net

Looking for my half-sister in Germany whom my father left behind

We (my sisters) are looking for our half sister in Germany. We believe that my father met her mother in Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich. He was in the Military Police; he enlisted into the United States Army in November 1945. We believe his potential wife's name was or is Liselotte Lauff or Loff. He was from Philadelphia Pennsylvania, United States. He deserted his wife/girlfriend and returned to the States. I, being the youngest would hear whispered arguments from my mother about my father's wife he left in Germany with his baby. It is possible Liselotte could be his daughter's name. I would think that my father married either 1947, 1948, or 1949. During that time the child of course, would have been born. He was told by his commanding officer that he was to support his daughter and he never did. He left without ever returning. We are trying to get information from the NPRC in St. Louis, Missouri, however in 1973 there was a devastating fire at the Military Archives for the U.S. Army G.I.'s we are awaiting any information that may give us a direction as to who his child may be or his wife/girlfriend. His daughter would be about 63 or 64 now. My father has just passed away. I tried to find you years ago however our internet is not what it is today. I could not find anything. I called the ACS in Berlin and the information was passed to European Military agency with no leads as they do not hold any post WW2 records in Germany. The Sergeant told me to contact a German Private Investigator but that is not financially possible for us.
I overheard an argument when I was young concerning the fact that my father threw the wedding ring and roofed it because he wanted to marry my mother. Very sad. I do not believe my father ever divorced if they were in fact married. However, I don't know if his commanding officer would have informed him that he had to pay child support if he was not the father but I do not know for sure. I know his wife/girlfriend wrote to my father while he lived in Philadelphia asking for financial support. I don't believe he ever responded. He quickly married my mother after returning home from the occupation in Germany. The birth of his second child took place in 1950. My father produced all girls. I had a falling out with my father for 22 years as he was not always the father I thought he should be. I loved him but I did not agree with the type of man he was. He eventually left my mother for another woman. There is definitely a pattern here. However, he did divorce my mother in the States. There will always be the question as to who our half sister is and if my mother's and my father's second wife's marriage is void in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I was informed that if he did not divorce his wife in Germany, if in fact, he was married, that in Pennsylvania the marriage is void but his wives would be considered Putative Spouses. This is really not important but I would like to know because my father had a superior attitude toward women and I would like to really know what kind of man he really was. My father disappointed me in life many times and I would like to know if I was correct in all of my thinking. However, I do know in my heart. Six months ago, he was crying about the women he deserted in his life and all of my memories of things said came rushing back to me again. I thought, that is it. He left his wife in Germany, his wife in the states and stayed with the last woman for whatever reason. I think he was just too old at this point to bother to cheat on her. My father's name was Kenneth, or Ken or Kenny. I am not sure how he was addressed while in Germany. I would need some information to identify him. An old picture as he was big on picture taking in Germany. Again, he was with the Military Police in the Big Red One. He was thin, small of build and dark haired. I cannot divulge anymore information as I want to make sure that he is the one. If his daughter is interested in contacting us. I do not like knowing there is a daughter, our sister out there possibly wondering about her father. You may have had a father later that was a great man and we understand. But he left this earth with remorse over deserting you. We were at his death bed. He could not speak due to the drugs he was given but he heard us as he squeezed our hands upon command. He would have wanted you there also, this I know. I know you hold dual citizenship and may even be living in the United States. We would love to hear from you. If this is your wish. We are still awaiting contact from the Military Archives for possible information if the records did not burn in the fire. Your American Sister. FaithfulMther@aol.com

looking for brother.

im looking for my half brother in germany.born in 1959 or 1960 and maybe 58..his name is gilbert and his moms name is ingrade.possibly born in munich where my dad was a us paratrooper and was stationed there.hes at least 52 to 54 yrs old..if you find him tell him i love him..please help...thank you

Looking for a Half-sister or Half-brother

Hi, my father may; may not have fathered a child in the Salzburg area. If so, the individual would have been conceived sometime between mid-May, 1945 and late October, 1945. My dad returned to the U.S. in November, 1945, so it is possible he didn't know of the woman's pregnancy. The child would have been born most likely in May or June, 1946. His name was Thomas, went by Tom, was a member of a 7th Army artillery unit and was from Oklahoma. His non-combat experiences included liberation of Dachau and visiting Hitler's "Crow's Nest" where he got there soon enough to get some of the furnishings of the place.

Dad died in 1980 but told me near the end of his life that he had a companion in Salzburg who was Estonian not Austrian, but did not tell me of a child. I asked him if he had had an affair then and he said yes. But only later after his death did I find out that he may have fathered a child. Apparently, he said something to my aunt who kept it a secret except to a daughter, my cousin, who later revealed it to me.

I do remember things getting crazy with my mom in about 1948 and I now wonder if he during that year somehow learned something about his experiences in Europe that plagued him for the rest of his days.

If any of this resonates with any reader please respond. I would love to get to know any half-sibling I may have. It would be a joy. If you are that person, please know that my father was a good man who unfortunately turned to drink and that became his downfall. The reasons for that downfall are directly attributable to drink, but indirectly I know to his experiences in the War.

help finding my half sister in Germany

Hello my name is Karrie Mayberry Mullaly my dad Eulas D Mayberry he passed in 1990 on his death I was told he fathered a baby girl in Germany. My mother passed 08/11/2014 going through some old papers and things I found an envelope sent from my aunt ( my dads only living sibling ) it contained letters to my grandmother and a photo of a baby girl that definitely looks like my dads child as she resembles me and my brothers my nefews my Neice and my daughter. The photo on the front corner says your daughter Marlene on the back it has her birthdate 03/10/1964 below is a small description of what I got from reading the letters. Seems my grandparents my dad and my mom knew of her. I would love to find her I would love to share my children and grandchildren with her as they are her family to. I would like to know her her children if she has any. Anyone with any information on this please contact me. My dad writes of spending 3 Christmases there and of a German woman he wants to marry that's dowels fluent English but has only 44 days left and wants to bring her to the state to marry as they didn't have enough time before he left. My oldest brother was born in 65 so they are close in age. My grandparents and dad were from Missouri USA. My email is flamingscallop@gmail.com I live in mt. Morris MI born and raised in Flint mi. No mention of her mother's name.

Please. Share this is my half sister that I believe lives in Germany! Her name is Marlene Don 03/10/64 this is what I do know for sure. My dad Eulas D. Mayberry
Was stationed at Baunholder base in Germany between 1962to 01/1964 .on 5-28-62 he writes my grandma that he is at Grsfenohr 30 miles from Germany boarder 225 miles from Russian boarder 6/13/1963 writes at Baunholder it's gonna be his birthday on the 20th he will be 21 .and has 208 more days over seas. 8/28/63 137 days left been there 22 months talks bout moving to New house grandma had 12/17/63 coming home in Jan talks bout marring a German girl he has spent time with since he's been there but only has 44 days not enough time talks bout moving her to states to get married. Share please hopefully someone knows something

https://www.facebook.com/ajax/sharer/?s=22&appid=25554907596&p%5B0%5D=12...

Search half sister

Hi Karrie,

just stumbled across your post by accident. Two ways to start with your search.
1. contact the german authority Jugendamt at the city where the child was born. You are probable not aware of this, but the Jugendamt automatically stepped in when a child was born out of wedlock to a german mother, under age 21 and a GI father. Sometimes without the knowledge of the mother an investigation was carried out in cooperation with the HQ of his unit. The files are kept for at least 30 years by the Jugendamt amd later on are moved to the Stadt- or Staatsarchiv.
2. you need to find out where exactly he was stationed at the time of conception and birth of the child. For this reason please contact the NPRC in St. Louis. Just google. If you are a german citized you could try to contact Dr. Niels Yussblatt at the NPRC. He is the specialist working the cases germany/USA.

Hope these hints will help you with your search. Feel free to mail me if you wish further help on this.

Ursula

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