Uprooting & Loneliness

The feeling of being uprooted and alone was familiar to many who were placed in care or interned. Loneliness was their constant companion, even when they were surrounded by people. The contact to their family or siblings wasn’t always possible, visitors came rarely and for a long time friendships were deliberately prevented.

© Our Faces – Our Stories, 2022

Far Away from One’s Own Life

In case of administrative detention or placement in care, those affected lost their family and social surrounding. Accommodation in places that were far away from home further promoted the feeling of isolation.

The separation from the familiar surroundings and the placement of siblings in different places was a deliberate act to prevent their mutual influence, which was assessed as negative. For a long time, this practice was favoured by limited mobility: having one’s own car was not a matter of course until recent years and train journeys were often too expensive. Visitors were also rare and only with time not every letter was checked anymore ...

Placed Anew Again and Again

Not seldom, those affected experienced different compulsory social measures and several placements. This reinforced the feeling of being nowhere welcome and being at the mercy of arbitrariness.

Crèche Arbon (TG), 1927; foster family Koblenz (D), 1927; home of St. Idda, Lüttisburg (SG), 1929; girl’s home Tannenhof, Zurich, 1936; psychiatric polyclinic, Zurich, 1936; Guter Hirt, Strassburg (F), 1936; Guter Hirt, Altstätten (SG), 1936; Realta, Cazis (GR), 1936; Dienststelle, Fulenbach (SO), 1937; girls home Tannenhof, Zurich, 1937; Monikaheim in der Hub, Zurich, 1937; Zurich public authorities, 1937; Realta, Cazis (GR), 1937; Bellechasse, Sugiez (FR), 1939; Oberehrendingen public authorities (AG), 1940; Guter Hirt, Lully (FR), 1940; asylum Belfaux (FR), 1943; Marsens (FR), 1944; Beverin, Cazis (GR), 1944; Realta, Cazis (GR), 1944; Bellechasse, Sugiez (FR), 1944; Niederlenz public authorities (AG), 1945; Bellechasse, Sugiez (FR), 1948

There were many reasons for a re-placement. One of them was maladaptive behaviour which also included escape attempts. Between 1927 and 1951, Katharina M*. was subjected to a total of 24 placements in children’s homes, psychiatric institutions, “forced labour institutions”, prisons, with foster parents and public authorities, not only throughout Switzerland but also in Germany and France. Her father had placed her and her siblings in a children’s home in Arbon (TG) after the death of her mother. The head of the organisation “Hilfswerk für die Kinder der Landstrasse”, Alfred Siegfried, became their guardian.

Katharina M.* became a mother at an early age and tried to make a living for her and her children – until she was interned once again. At the age of 30 she moved in with her father and no further social measures are known. Whether she ever saw her children again, who had been taken from her, remains unknown.

“You can’t get any lonelier”

Homesickness hurts. Separation from the familiar surroundings is difficult, especially for children and adolescents.

© Our Faces – Our Stories, 2022

As a child Uschi Waser was placed in 20 different homes and with 4 foster families. At the age of 15 she wrote the poem “A Mother's Love”. At that time, she was administratively cared for at the juvenile correction facility for girls “Zum Guten Hirt” in Altstätten (SG).

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