Friday, December 17, 2010

Shameful chapter in the Federal Republic of Germany lasting several decades after the war today ends in renewed abuse of victims in their senior years

Institutional child abuse and the making of amends

( agreed version ) Reader’s letter in response to current media reports in English:

A shameful compensation offer to abused and exploited German former foster home inmates [ *** ]

Two generations of children and teenagers being confined in foster-home and correctional schools, confined in church institutions or state institutions of one kind or another, institutions for the detention of children and minors --- an estimated 3,500 such institutions in total existed in postwar West-Germany in the late 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s, up until the mid 1980s !

Even according to conservative estimates we have contributed billions of Euros to the GDP of Germany. This was done while we were children, working with our small bodies at great cost to our health, well being, education and our own prosperity. The vast majority of us were never allowed to go to good schools while we labored. As a result, we could not study or even learn a skill that would grant us the chance of gainful employment.

Now that most of us are old, ill and worn out, they want to fob us off with a ludicrously low sum of 120 million €. This means if only 30,000 of the estimated 500,000 to 800,000 survivors of state and church run orphanages and reform schools applied for the funds offered for some sort of compensation, each one of us might receive only 4,000 €, or less. While we were forced to do labor in these institutions, none of us were paid any wages. Therefore there was nothing to pay into our Social Security accounts, leaving quite a shortfall in the ability of long-term inmates to pay for housing and medical care out of their scanty pensions.

A single lump sum payment of a maximum of 4,000 € for years of physical, psychological and sexual abuse? 4,000 € to compensate for years of slave labor, forced religious inculcation and indoctrination and prison-like incarceration? 4,000 € to remedy the gaps in our of education and fill the void left by the total absence of love and joy when we were young and needed these things the most? 4,000 € payment for shattered lives and broken bones, torn flesh and utmost humiliation? For cruel punishment details in which we spent nights left alone, standing in unheated hallways or even forced to stand outside in the snow? Up until now our payment for these wretched conditions has been decades of haunting fears, terrible dreams, the impossibility of forming the bonds of lasting relationships and the frustrations of sexual partnerships?

NO! We cannot and will not accept this new humiliation!

We do not ask for reparation for the damages we have suffered because we know: No one can return our youth, nothing will bring back our sexual, physical and psychological health and integrity! But we do expect a sum that will relieve some of the bitterness and hardness to which our lives were reduced! As one of the richest countries on the Earth, Germany owes us at least this much!

The now negotiated sum at best is a slap in our faces, the survivors of these orphanages and reform schools. This is an utter shame and a scandal for Germany!

Heidi Dettinger, Survivor of German church 'education'
[ i.e., church abuse ].

[ *** "foster home" / "foster homes" is under certain circumstances an American expression for "children’s institution"; "institutions for children or minors"; simply "a place where children ( usually "wards of the state" ) are raised outside a proper parental home". - "slave labor", "labor" and "labored" in the USA is of course in all other English-speaking countries around the world spelt "slave labour", "labour" and "laboured" ]

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