Skip to main content

Unwanted and forgotten – Female forced Laborers and their Children

Production, script, & direction: Anne Roerkohl
WDR 2000, 45 Min.

In the Waltrop-Holthausen maternity confinement camp, specially established for female forced laborers, 1,273 babies are born during World War II. Many of the infants die of starvation or inadequate care within their first year of life.

The Polish girl Maria Wieclaw is one of the young women deported to Westphalia for forced labor. At the age of twenty she meets her future husband and becomes pregnant. She gives birth to her daughter Valentina in the Waltrop-Holthausen maternity confinement camp. Her baby is immediately taken from her – with blond hair and blue eyes, it corresponds to the racial ideology of the Nazis and is thus presumably given to German parents. To this day, Maria Wieclaw still does not know what happened to her daughter.

We visited Maria Wieclaw in Poland and had an interview with her. The film follows the stages of her life from the Ukraine to the Waltrop-Holthausen maternity and abortion confinement camp. With the specific example of Maria Wieclaw’s life, the film opens a previously closed and shocking chapter of Nazi forced labor during World War II.

Maria Wieclaw is currently living with her children in Poland – ill and at the poverty level. She has never received compensation for her suffering and loss, she has never talked about her fate before, and she has never searched for the perpetrators. The victims of the past continue to be victims to this day.

The WDR received donations for Maria Wieclaw after the broadcast of the film.

Production: Anne Roerkohl dokumentARfilm GmbH

Lager Waltrop-Holthausen 29a, amerikanisches Luftbild, April 1945 und schematische Zeichnung
Camp Waltrop-Holthausen 29a, American aerial picture, April 1945 and schematic drawing
Maria Wieclaw als junge Fra
Maria Wieclaw as young woman
Valentina P., 1942 mit 13 Jahren deportiert in eine Munitionsfabrik in Telgte bei Münster. Rechts ein Foto aus späterer Zeit, das die Zerstörung des Kindes zeigt.
Valentina P., 1942, deportetd aged 13 to an ammunition factory in Telgte, near Münster. Right: A later picture showing the child’s poor condition
Zwangsarbeiterinnenbaracke Zeche Emscher-Lippe, Datteln
Barrack of forced labourers at Zeche Emscher-Lippe, Datteln