When Germany invaded Norway in 1940, Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler endorsed the concept of German soldiers hooking up with Norwegian women, as that would help bring the Nazis closer to the Aryan master race they wished for. Per the BBC, about 50,000 Norwegian women ended up in relationships with the Germans, and they became known as the "German Girls"—a label that led to harsh punishments after WWII ended when their country turned on them for what was viewed as a betrayal. Now, Norway's prime minister is officially offering an apology to those women, calling them "victims of undignified treatment" and noting that Norwegian authorities back then acted outside of usual conventions in punishing these women and the children they bore.
"For many, this was just a teenage love," Norwegian PM Erna Solberg said Wednesday at a UN human rights event. "For some, the love of their lives with an enemy soldier or an innocent flirt ... left its mark for the rest of their lives. Today, in the name of the government, I want to offer my apologies." Punishments included getting fired from their jobs, detentions, being stripped of their nationality, and even expulsions to Germany. Meanwhile, many of the more than 10,000 children who came out of these relationships were sent to foster homes or "special institutions," Deutsche Welle notes. A historian says that Norwegian men who married German women during the same period weren't similarly punished. "[The women's] only crime was breaking the unwritten rules," he says. (As one woman headed to the Auschwitz gas chamber, she wrote this.)