What does it actually mean when a Government offers an apology to its own people? Is it a political gesture or a genuine attempt at making the recipients feel validated so that closure can be achieved? In this case the Norwegian government’s gesture was delivered 70 years after the fact; a very long time, considering the circumstances that became evident at the end of World War II.
However, the issue is complicated. History tells us that the Norwegian citizens were themselves victims of the German invasion April 9, 1940, and that a fierce battle was fought to avoid surrender. How can some co-victims also have been the perpetrators of devastating actions warranting asking for forgiveness?
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IRENE LEVIN BERMAN
A twelfth century monastery in Bavaria, Kloster Indersdorf was a former girls’ boarding school. Kloster Indersdorf sheltered many displaced persons at the end of World War II. In July 1945, the Americans opened the orphanage in Indersdorf, where hundreds of surviving children who were emotionally and physically wounded, were cared for, until they could return to their homes or immigrate to other countries. They came from concentration camps, from forced labor, and from Lebensborn homes and found a temporary home.
Kloster Indersdorf functioned as an international youth shelter until the UNRRA United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) designated the camp as a Jewish children’s center in August 1946. Situated between Dachau and Augsburg, Indersdorf was part of the Munich district of the U.S. zone of occupation. Kloster Indersdorf closed on June 30, 1949.
During the time that it was open, it was home to over 300 young Jewish DPs. Children from over 20 nations who lived in Kloster Indersdorf right after the war (July 1945 - September 1948), later immigrated to Erez Israel (Palestine), Great Britain, USA, Canada, Norway (2 known cases) or other countries.
The Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul also took care of them. They received adequate food, clean and appropriate clothing, medical supplies, and were allowed to wash regularly and sleep in their own, clean beds. With creative games, they learned to work through their traumatic experiences.
The historian and educator Anna Andlauer, has written the book "The Rage to Live - The International D.P. Children's Center Kloster Indersdorf, 1945-46," to tell the little-known story of the orphanage. Research into the fate of those children continues. The author has already tracked down 50 of the former children of Indersdorf.
She has also searched the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS). Andlauer regularly invites the survivors to visit the former convent where these children were allowed to play and learn again, and could talk about their disturbing experiences to people who listened to them and where their difficult road back to life began.
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Kloster Indersdorf From archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS)