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Kofferkinder (“suitcase children”)

The term “Kofferkinder”, coined by Maria Papoulias in 1985, describes children of labour migrants in Germany who lived separated from their parents. The children, often separated from their parents for years, usually lived with family members in their parents’ country of origin. They often saw their parents only on holidays, when the parents either came to visit them or they travelled to visit their parents, hence the term “Kofferkinder”, which literally means “suitcase children”. The labour recruitment agreements initially only planned for the migrations to move to Germany temporarily and without their families. However, many of the labour migrants happened to stay permanently in Germany and after months or years of separation brought their children to live with them. Some children also continued to live permanently in the country of origin.