My text is about the issue of the consequences of National Socialist court verdicts and the prison sentences for survivors and their families, an almost forgotten group of victims of Nazi persecution, by the example of Wolfenbüttel Prison.
Wolfenbüttel Prison was the main penal facility in the former State of Braunschweig (Brunswick), in northern Germany, and therefore an integral part of the Nazis’ policies of persecution. In addition, it was an example of the extensive involvement of the German judicial and penal systems in the enforcement, maintenance, and radicalisation of the Nazi dictatorship. More than 15.000 inmates were imprisoned between 1933 and the liberation by US forces on 11 April 1945.
The prison society was characterized by its heterogeneous nature, encompassing prisoners from diverse social classes, family backgrounds, and countries. The convictions of these individuals differed in terms of reasons, as well as the duration and conditions of their sentences. Moreover, their experiences within the prison system varied, and the manner in which their imprisonment ended was also diverse.
In life-history video interviews, daughters, daughters-in-law, sons and grandchildren of Nazi convicts talk about how they dealt with the experiences of persecution, imprisonment and loss in their families and about the effects of the family member’s imprisonment on their lives. The individual life and family narratives of the „following generations“are composed of mosaic stones: Traumas and anxiety disorders, family silence, ignorance, the search for one’s own identity as well as the preservation of memory, political responsibility and social commitment are important factors here.
There is a consensus in research that not only the lives of those persecuted, the so-called First Generation, but also the lives of their family members were and are influenced by the experiences and consequences. Numerous studies have already been published on the after-effects of concentration camp imprisonment on the descendants of concentration camp prisoners. In contrast, research on the consequences of National Socialist judicial sentences and the penal system for family members of convicts and executed prisoners has only begun in recent years.
In this context, family memory must always be seen in relation to the respective temporal and national sociopolitical framework conditions of the cultural present and the public perceptions of the persecuted group of Nazi justice convicts that depend on them.
Although since the 1980s there has been a general increase in interest in Nazi history in West Germany, the evaluation and recognition of Nazi judicial sentences as unjust sentences and the penal system came only very late to this general process.
In the following I would like to give an insight into my research. The focus is on family members of those imprisoned in Wolfenbüttel prison during the Nazi era. Their testimonies and biographical memories form the first source basis of my research.  As a further source, life history video interviews were conducted with second and third generation family members from Germany, Norway, Denmark, France and Belgium.
The findings from both data collections provided answers to the following research questions:
Were the experiences of persecution of the first generation (negatively) identity-forming for the lives of the descendants? Were the traumas passed on?
What influence did the social perception and recognition of the convicts as Nazi victims have on the lives of their family members?
What consequences do the family members draw for themselves?
Findings: The Impact on the Following Generations
Elisabeth Jensenius, born in 1939, daughter of the Norwegian resistance fighter Wilfred Jensenius, remembers the family consequences of her father’s nightmares during which he shouted in German:
“And that was certainly worse for my brother than for me. He was small and frightened. And that made it impossible for me to learn German at school, as I later realised.” (Interview with Elisabeth Jensenius, Wolfenbüttel, 7 April 2018)
The children of justice convicts are also affected by trans-generational traumatization. According to the assessment of Elisabeth Jensenius, (today a psychotherapist) her brother, born in 1946, had a particularly hard time because of the traumatization of his parents. “Jørgen grew up in a family that was traumatised from the beginning. […] I would say it was a bereaved family in many ways.” His life was therefore very much burdened by his father’s Nazi experiences. “The shadows of the past crushed him”, his wife Grete Refsum (born 1953) describes the situation. Like his father, he suffered from nightmares and was afraid of falling asleep.
If the “second generation” sought help from psychotherapists. This help was initially denied because the traumatization of the following generations was not been perceived and recognized as an illness in the 1970s.
“At the time, however, he was turned away with the words ‘What do you want? You weren’t even alive during the war, you have no idea!’” his wife Grete Refsum remembers. (Interview with Grete Refsum, Wolfenbüttel, 24 February 2018)
Often, the children’s confrontation with and detachment from their parents, and the connection of the parents’ persecution to their own lives took place after the parents’ death. The death could be a “relief” (Elisabeth Jensenius).
“A burden was taken off our shoulders, so to speak, which had always been there. And now we can somehow breathe a sigh of relief.” (Interview with Elisabeth Jensenius, Wolfenbüttel, 7 April 2018)
Another kind of dealing with the parent’s prison experiences is to transfer it to themselves:
“I have practically internalised what he experienced. And there are moments when I think that all this happened to me. […] Which is not true, not at all […].” André Charon, (born 1955), son of a Belgium resistance fighter. (Interview with André Charon, Brussels, 4 April 2018)
But there are also positive effects this experience could have had on family members:
Family members of imprisoned resistance fighters have also received pride, courage and strength from their parents: “Whenever I have encountered problems in my life, I have always remembered: there is always a solution, one should not give up. That is my father’s legacy.” 
The experiences of persecution also influenced the lives of their family members: In some cases, they took over the traumatisation or disorders of their parents and grandparents. The significance of this persecution for the lives of the family members of Wolfenbüttel Prison inmates during the Nazi era was and is very individual.
For family members, working through their heritage means learning how to change the way they identify themselves with their parents or relative. The past, sometimes perceived as a great burden, could be transformed into a positive and important part of their lives (traumatic growth).
For the personal confrontation with the past of their relatives, the national and sociopolitical contexts of the respective memory cultures are also an important criterion. What is important is whether (the) society’s public discourse recognises the former prisoners as victims and whether there are public commemorations and discussions or not: This recognition of former prisoners as victims came very late, for some even too late and is in some places still being debated up to the present day. This especially concerns former prisoners belonging to the groups of so called “German criminal prisoners”, homosexuals, and military court victims.
Due to the intensive personal confrontation with the fate of their fathers and grandfathers and the associated processing, they were able to detach themselves and, in part, transform the family history(s) in a positive and meaningful way.
For the future, descendants of those imprisoned for political reasons in particular see a personal obligation to take active political action, to preserve the memory and work as a moral authority, as well as the responsibility to act as impulse givers and thus to shape the remembrance work of the present and the future: “Someone has to do something: I am the someone …”  is how Grete Refsum and Jørgen Jensenius described their commitment and attitude to life. National and sociopolitical contexts of the respective cultures of remembrance are also an important criterion for the personal confrontation with the past of their fathers or grandfathers. The decisive factor is whether those convicted are recognised in a society as victims in societal discourses and whether there has been a public discussion of their history of persecution and their suffering. “The most important thing, however, is that the heavy burden of concealment has come to an end. The secret has been revealed and remembrance has found a place.”
The silence was broken.
 In the following, the term ‘following generations‘ is used to include not only the direct descendants of survivors, but all of their descendants. Thorsten Fehlberg, Jost Rebentisch und Anke Wolf, Einleitung, in: Thorsten Fehlberg, Jost Rebentisch and Anke Wolf (Eds.), Nachkommen von Verfolgten des Nationalsozialismus. Herausforderungen und Perspektiven, Frankfurt a. M. 2016, pp. 11-12, here p. 11.
 Thorsten Fehlberg, Anne Klein (2021): Nachkomm_innen von NS-Verfolgten als erinnerungspolitische Akteur_innen, pp. 237–252. Martina Staats (2021): Unerzählte Geschicht(en). Die Bedeutung für die Familienangehörigen von Verurteilten, pp. 253-269. Oliver von Wrochem (2021): Nachkomm_innen ehemaliger KZ-Häftlinge in der Gedenkstättenarbeit und Geschichtskultur des 21. Jahrhunderts, pp. 271-283. In: Lölke, Janna/Staats, Martina (Hrsg.): richten – strafen – erinnern. Nationalsozialistische Justizverbrechen und ihre Nachwirkungen in der Bundesrepublik. Göttingen: Wallstein.
 Günter Saathoff, Zur Eröffnung der Konferenz „Zweite Generation“, in: Fehlberg, Rebentisch, Wolf (Eds.), Nachkommen, pp.17-18, here p. 17.
 Cf. Martina Staats, Gebrochenes Schweigen. Der Umgang von Familienangehörigen mit den Folgen von NS-Verurteilungen, in: Staats/Wagner (Eds.), Recht, Verbrechen, Folgen, Göttingen 2019, pp. 286-293. Wolfgang Huber, the son of Kurt Huber, a member oft he White Rose resistance group, recounted his „Leben mit einem Geköpften im Haus“, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 11.07.2018; Die Weiße Rose. Kurt Hubers letzte Tage, Kurt Huber (Ed.), München 2018. Cf. the memoirs of Wolfgang Linke, Mein Vater Emil Linke and Erika Klug, Mein Vater August Friedrich Wilhelm Klug, in: Hans Coppi und Kamil Majchrzak (Eds.), Das Konzentrationslager und Zuchthaus Sonnenburg, Berlin 2015, pp. 126-128 and 132-136.
 Cf. Maurice Halbwachs, Das Gedächtnis und seine sozialen Bedingungen, Frankfurt a. M. 1985.
 All interviews are from the collection of the Memorial in the JVA Wolfenbüttel.
 There are now numerous publications that prove the passing on of trauma and psychological stress to the descendants of Nazi persecutes, especially the survivors of concentration camps. Cf. Natan P. F. Kellermann, „Geerbtes Trauma“ – Die Konzeptualisierung der transgenerationellen Weitergabe von Traumata, in: Holocaust und Trauma. Kritische Perspektiven zur Entstehung und Wirkung eines Paradigmas, Tel Aviver Jahrbuch für deutsche Geschichte 39 (2011), José Brunner and Nathalie Zajde (Ed.), pp. 137-160. According to Kellermann, the trauma is, without exception, passed on by one or both parents, so that the term „parental transmission“ is the most precise description of the intergenerational transmission of trauma. Cf. Transgenerationelle Traumatisierung. Sachstand, Wissenschaftliche Dienste, Deutscher Bundestag, WD 1 – 3000 – 040/16, 2017.
 Interview with Elisabeth Jensenius, Wolfenbüttel, 07.04.2018, TC 2_33:27ff.
 Ibid., TC 04_02 2:13ff.
 Ibid., TC 01_03 3:43ff.
 Entry in the memorial’s visitors book, 11th April 2015.
 Anonym, Erinnerungen, p. 12.