Background: The aim of the study was to determine the amount of trauma impact and significant post-traumatic stress symptoms, which can indicate a possible post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in a sample of former German child soldiers of World War II.
Methods: 103 participants were recruited through the press, then administered a modified Post-traumatic Diagnostic Scale (PDS).
Results: Subjects reported a high degree of trauma exposure, with 4.9% reporting significant post-traumatic stress symptoms after WW II, and 1.9% reporting that these symptoms persist to the present.
Conclusion: In line with other studies on child soldiers in actual conflict settings, our data document a high degree of trauma exposure during war. Surprisingly, the prevalence of significant post-traumatic stress symptoms indicating a possible PTSD was low compared to other groups of aging, long-term survivors of war trauma. Despite some limitations our data highlight the need for further studies to identify resilience and coping factors in traumatized child soldiers.