Oct. 18 (UPI) -- The government of Norway has formally apologized to Norwegian women who were vilified in the country after World War II for having relationships with German soldiers after the Nazi invasion.
The women, informally called "German Girls," were accused of betraying Norway after the war and were denied civil rights, arrested and some were held in prison without trials. Some were expelled from the country.
German soldiers were encouraged to father children with Norwegian woman after invading the country in 1940, as German SS leader Heinrich Himmler believed the Scandinavian nation was critical to his Aryan breeding program called Lebensborn, or "Fountain of Life."
Wednesday, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said the country was wrong to shun the women.
"Young Norwegian girls and women who had relations with German soldiers or were suspected of having them, were victims of undignified treatment," Solberg said at an event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"Our conclusion is that Norwegian authorities violated the fundamental principle that no citizen can be punished without trial or sentenced without law. Today, in the name of the government, I want to offer my apologies," she added.
In all, some 50,000 Norwegian women were believed to have had intimate relationships with German soldiers that produced as many as 12,000 births.
BBC News reported Thursday many of the children from the wartime relationships were born at maternity facilities set up by the Nazis from 1941 until the war ended -- and the apology was spurred by a report on Norway's post-World War II actions published by the nation's Centre for Holocaust and Minorities Studies.
"A good apology can have a lot of power," Guri Hjeltnes, head of the center, said in the BBC News report. "An apology can mean that groups receive answers to their treatment."