[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights [official website] held a hearing Thursday to determine the admissibility and merits of a case [press release] filed in 2003 by 159 children of Norwegian mothers and German fathers born during World War II. Many of these "war children" or "krigsbarn", were officially registered as children of "Lebensborn" [Wikipedia backgrounder], a Nazi plot devised by Heinrich Himmler [Wikipedia profile] in 1935 to create children who were "racially and genetically pure." According to the complaint, after the war many of the children were socially ostracized and classified by various public figures, including doctors and clergy, as mentally and genetically defective. The war children claim to have been victims of systematic discrimination, with some wrongly placed in mental institutions or abusive foster homes. One of the case applicants had a swastika scratched into her forehead when she was only nine or ten, while another was burned with a hot iron.
In 1999, seven of the war children brought proceedings to the City Court in Oslo [official website, in Norwegian], claiming numerous violations of the European Convention on Human Rights [text], but the court found, in a ruling upheld in 2002 by Norwegian Supreme Court [official backgrounder, English version], that the 20-year statute of limitations had already run before the filing. The applicants say the violations are ongoing, as they still are "reminded in negative terms of their origin and value." Reuters has more.