After eight-year search, German son finds American father
By JESSICA INIGO | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 1, 2004
DARMSTADT, Germany — After years of silence, followed by years of searching, a German son and American father met for the first time, sparking the drive to get other German children of American soldiers reunited with their past.
The GI Kinder Charity program, started by Norbert Alexiou, who is using his own life as inspiration, hopes to help separated families come together.
At 16, Alexiou learned a shocking secret from his mother. She was on her deathbed, ill from cancer, when she revealed to her son that the man he thought was his father really was not.
His biological father was an American soldier stationed at Cambrai-Fritsch Casern in Darmstadt after World War II.
The mother, Hedwig Alexiou, said she had a secret relationship with a soldier named Teddy, though both were married. She never told anyone of the extramarital affair because she wanted to protect her family. Plus, at the time in Germany any relationship with soldiers was frowned upon. However, she did not want to die with the secret, recounted Alexiou’s wife, Gabriella, during an interview at the Stars and Stripes office. The whole family recently reunited there for the first time in 43 years for a documentary being made.
Though Alexiou immediately wanted to know more about this secret life of his, his mother asked her son to help her keep the secret. So, Alexiou kept his lips sealed.
However, his mother eventually became better, and at 30 years of age Alexiou could no longer deal with not knowing his father or his American heritage. He asked his mother if he could finally open up the can of worms she had sealed so tightly.
Though it was difficult for her, she consented.
It took eight long years of searching, travel and frustration, but Alexiou finally did find his father, Theodore R. Moore, in Texas. Plus, he said he learned a lot along the way.
Alexiou found out he was not alone. More than 100,000 children are estimated to have resulted from postwar-era relationships in Germany.
Most of these children were raised without their American fathers, who left Germany just after a few years. Because of enormous family and societal pressures, the children’s heritage was often kept from them for years, if not forever. Many mothers, like Hedwig, couldn’t stand the pressure and either kept their secrets or gave their children up for adoption or to institutions.
Alexiou said most of these “GI kids” still don’t know their American fathers, which is why he started a program to help get people to come forward.
Alexiou, who started the search for his father at the Stars and Stripes newspaper archives room and ended it with a hired detective in the States, said eight years of coming up empty-handed taught him the ropes of looking for the impossible. Now, he’s prepared to help other GI kids find their biological fathers.
“It’s really amazing. Now we’re running through open doors where before there were only closed doors,” explained Gabriella Alexiou of the process of searching and finding her new father-in-law.
Though Alexiou has known his father for five years now, mother and father were just recently reunited for the first time in 43 years.
“I was very nervous before he came. The process was emotional, but I’m free now,” said the mother. “It feels much better to find him again for my son.”
Everyone agreed that now they wouldn’t have it any other way, because with both families married with their own children, it just makes the family bigger and better.
“I picked him up and took him home. Everyone received him with open arms,” said Moore of when he first met his son and brought him to his Bryan, Texas, home. “Plus, I didn’t just get a son, I got a new daughter, too.”
Now, Alexiou has become an American citizen through his father and hopes to help other German children of soldiers discover their American heritage.
For more GI Kinder project information, go to www.gi-kinder.org.
Norbert Alexiou did an extensive search through hundreds of bound volumes of Stars and Stripes newspapers hoping to find some information to help him locate his American father, Theodore R. Moore, who was stationed with the military in Darmstadt, Germany, after World War II.
RAYMOND T. CONWAY / S&S