I recently attended a congress about war grandchildren in Germany. This term is used for children of war children, roughly the generation born between 1960 and 1975. Their parents were children during the Second World War. The war grandchildren in Germany mostly grew up in a stable, relatively wealthy environment. They did not lack food, a warm bed, health care, or education. But they did lack emotional bonding.
Their emotional needs could not be met by their heavily traumatized parents. Although from the outside everything in the war grandchildren’s childhood appeared to be normal, inside they might have felt guilt, shame, fear, desperation, and unworthiness. These feelings were not their own but inherited from one or more generations before.
Single and childless
The war grandchildren’s generation contains an unusual amount of single and childless people. In recent years, there has been a bit more consciousness and research about the roots the inner emergency level war grandchildren are functioning from. They might function in life, without enjoying life much, feeling blocked to create what they themselves really long for. Sometimes there can be a fear of physical contact, and fear of men.
Priorities and values
Some of the war grandchildren are working hard and earning good money, but they feel like they have not achieved anything and do not deserve to spend money on nice things for themselves. Others struggle to earn more than their fathers did.
For war children, that means the generation born between 1930 and 1945, the most important things were food, warm shelter, proper clothes, a clean place, and, absolutely crucial, safety. They wanted their kids to have all they could just dream of, and they managed very well.
But even if a child did grow up with enough food etc, it does not mean that it made the child happy. The problem is, that the mother might want very different things than the daughter, and the mother may neither perceive nor understand the daughter’s needs, leaving her disappointed, with damaged trust, and without emotional support.
War great grandchildren
If the war grandchildren are not aware of the systemic constellation, their children, the so-called war great-grandchildren, do continue to have issues that are not their own. They might have received all the bonding and love, but again, their specific needs might be suppressed.
If you find yourself struggling, there is a solution
In general, we might find ourselves struggling here and there, for different reasons.
As women though, and as we approach the age when menopause might challenge our body and mind, it’s more likely that we feel overwhelmed by feelings and emotions without understanding where they are coming from.
Sadness, fear, haste, anxiety, the stress of struggling for money, work, or even the feeling of guilt when you are successful, or difficulties settling down. All this can be aggravated as we are already struggling with our body and mind, learning how to cope with the symptoms of peri-menopause or post-menopause. In those cases, just as with war grandchildren, it’s good to ask yourself: “Are these my feelings or are they from somebody else?“
We don’t need to pretend
We don’t need to pretend to be ok any longer. We can ask for help and solve the issues caused by the long shadow of the war.
It does not need to be painful or take a long time. There are many great healing modalities these days. You will feel relieved, joyful, and more authentic, and it will even serve the well-being of your family and ancestors. Let us all create a safe and healthy environment where everybody can shine.
A book about war grandchildren, available in English and German: https://www.sabine-bode-koeln.de/war-children/war-grandchildren/
Mental Wellbeing. Lifestyle. Menopause.
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Great article Cécile! as a younger me I never liked history but, as I grew wiser 🙂 and dig deeper into my genealogy, I learned so much about myself and how I am a product of all the ones that came before me. I am not a war grandchild but that understanding has become pretty handy in supporting a more authentic me!