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Abstracts: Thursday 30 September 2010

Panel 1

Vincent C. Frank-Steiner (Basel, Switzerland) - Slavic children forced to donate their blood for wounded enemy soldiers

This topic is limited to the last years of World War II and to Eastern Europe: Slavic children were kept in special camps for the sole purpose of delivering blood to wounded German soldiers and officers in military lazarettos. More than a dozen such camps have been named and recognised by sources and witnesses; towards the end of WWII some of the “Vampire Camps of the Wehrmacht” were transferred to Germany. The children were collected on the street or taken by force from their parents. Depending on the rarity of their blood group they had to deliver blood once a week, or even more frequently. The age-limit was from 5 years (often lower) till puberty. The withdrawal of blood is remembered by the victims as a coarse procedure that caused considerable pain. After blood withdrawal, the children were given candy – but no nourishing sustenance. When the children inmates of these camps were bled dry, they were disposed of by gas-wagon or shut. Very few survived. The documentation on the procedure is poor. Relevant historical documents from the times were found mostly in Eastern Europe, not in Germany. Systematic historic research has not yet been undertaken anywhere. The paucity of documents deserves special interest: The demand for fresh blood increased during the course of the war. Medical personnel indoctrinated in Nazi race theory knew of the “risks” they run of mix Slavic with Arian blood. The loss in manpower could be reduced by transfusing “inferior” Slavic children’s blood to wounded German combatants - a typical dilemma between ideology and experience. Transfusing Slavic blood to Arian military had to be kept as a strict secret by the Wehrmacht, particularly from the SS. The transfusions from child to wounded had to be conducted with extreme division of labour and careful compartmentalization, avoiding personal contact between “donor” and recipient. Following WWII the Soviet authorities had no interest in recognising this small group of children as victims. The practice came to light only as a by-product of war crime trials and thanks to recent testimony of survivors.

Vincent C. Frank-Steiner, born in Berlin in 1930, escaped to Switzerland in February 1939. Since, he follows the historic events (at the time by Swiss Radio, Deutschlandfunk, BBC, Deutsche Soldatensender). He learned to draw the truth from disparate sources. Dr Frank started his career in Rheine-shipping; he studied economics at the University of Basle. After working as economic editor with the Neue Zürcher-Zeitung for three years he was called to the Swiss Foreign Trade Department as member of the team to negotiate with the Common Market. The next step was the position of director of the budget of City and Kanton Basel. When his superior, the then incumbent Minister of Finance stepped down, Dr Frank retired, age 52. Frank had longstanding close relations to the father of Anne Frank (no family relationship). When Otto Frank died, he became his successor for the Swiss Foundation, supervising all author rights of Anne Frank worldwide, and warding off the Neo-Nazi attacks on Anne Frank and the authenticity of her Diary. All his life, Dr Frank followed contemporary history with a critical mind and published sporadically. His principal contribution rests in his unceasing efforts to interpret old and new source materials always incomplete. His contacts to Leonid Levin, leader of the Jewish Community of Belarus and architect and creator of the monument in Krasny Berek dedicated to the children-victims of this camp, let him to research on the subject of forced child blood donations.

 

Sebastian Stopper (Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany) - The children’s camp Skobrovka: German human resources management at the eastern front and the myth of forced blood donation

Regarding the overwhelming strength of the Red Army by summer 1944 the German armies at the Eastern Front found themselves in a hopeless situation. Every able bodied German still in the Reich had to be freed to serve and every soldier was needed directly in the front lines. Under these circumstances the already launched measures regarding the mobilization of the Soviet civilian population for the German war efforts were intensified even further. Also teenagers and children now were sent westwards in order to strengthen the working force of the Reich’s armaments industries or worked for the Wehrmacht on the spot in the occupied areas. Special transfer camps were installed where a selection of kids had to await further employment. Until today in Belarus one can hear the assertion that these already malnourished children were forced to donate blood in German military hospitals, because it was needed for the medical treatment of German soldiers at the Eastern Front. In fact the Wehrmacht was supplied with means of blood replacement and native blood out of her own ranks in quantities that filled the demand. The kids had not been concentrated in camps to serve as blood donors, but were sent to Belarus education villages in order to experience national-socialist indoctrination. The Soviet myth about the under-aged blood donors and the blood donation camps as the peak of a barbaric "fascist" occupation sprang from a misunderstanding of German intentions that were rooted in the national-socialist ideology.

Sebastian Stopper successfully completed his six years of studies at the Eberhard-Karls-University of Tübingen in summer 2008 with the delivery of his degree dissertation about the military effectiveness of the Soviet partisan warfare in the rear areas of the German armies in 1943. The historiographic work is continued with a promotion project, that concentrates on the exploration of the German occupation of the Russian region of Brjansk 1941 to 1943 by analysing German military documents and Russian sources gathered at local archives.

 

Panel 2

Tasoula Vervonioti (Hellenic Open University, Greece) - Children soldiers in irregular wars.  The case of the Greek Resistance and the Greek Civil War, 1941-1949

In Greece, in the 1940's decade, took place three wars.  The first took place in the Albanian front and lasted from October 1940, when the Italian army tried to occupy Greece, until April 1941.  It was a formal war and children's participation was not important.  In April 1941, as the Nazi occupied Greece, a great Resistance movement arose.  Children and not adults played a major role both, in civilian and armed resistance: children's demonstrations were organised in the cities and many children, boys and girls, fought in Free Greece in conjunction with the partisans.  In October 1944 Greece was liberated, but a bloody civil war started, which lasted until 1949.  In periods of social crisis the no adult population appear powerfully on the historical scene.  The Greek civil war was a period of such a great crisis.  Child soldiers fought mainly for Democratic Army, dominated by the Communist Party of Greece, but in many cases were also drafted into the Governmental Army.  Thousands of under-age soldiers were captured during the armed conflict and were sent to prisons or concentration camps.  There were inmates in these post-war camps who were no more than fourteen years old and were incarcerated for life.  This research is based on archival material found in Greece, on oral testimonies, as well as on the historical and photographic archive of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva.

Tasoula Vervenioti, historian, Hellenic Open University.  Her recent research focuses on children in the Greek civil war on a comparative perspective.  She has published three books:  in 1944 on women in the Greek Resistance, in 2003, which awarded the Greek National Literature Prize for Chronicle - Testimony in 2004 and the third in 2009 on the 1940's decade in general.  She has participated in many conferences and has contributed in volumes in Greek, English, French and German.

 

Vassiliki Vasiloudi and Vassiliki Theodorou (Democritus University of Thrace, Greece - Childhood at stake: The experience of displacement during the Greek Civil War, 1946-1949

Inscribed in the current historiographical research on World War II childhoods, this paper, based on interviews conducted with adults, who during their childhood experienced separation from both the family and homeland because of the Greek Civil War (1946-1949), following the end of World War II, interrogates the re-construction of war childhood experiences through the memory lens.  During the Civil War, fought between the Left and the Right Wing, children became the object of harsh political controversy between the two rivals since both claimed "the child" towards their own ends.  The informants come from Thrace, an area of Northern Greece, deeply affected by the warfare between the Greek Communists and the Greek Army.  During the aforementioned period, children were either transported to the Iron Curtain countries by the Communists or were placed in camps around Greece, specially designated for them by Queen Frederique, so as to undercut the spread of "the virus of Communism", and spent a considerable part of their lives interned in institutions while in many cases they lost contact with their families.  The central question this paper deals with is the different fortunes of Greek children and how these children experienced displacement, considered to be a traumatic experience.  Based on the statements of the informants, this paper show how childhood was experienced quite differently, even in the group of children whose fortunes seemingly followed the same pattern.  For the purposes of this paper, a thematic presentation of the informants is employed, focusing on the following issues: the experience of displacement; the relationships with their absent parents; the experience of being an inmate in either a communist establishment abroad or in a children's camp in Greece; the "interpretation" of the separation through the memoy lens.  The initial experience is subjected to a constant modification; the initial separation, whether voluntary or not, is being constantly processed, so as to weave a coherent narrative for the today's adult. Forced or urged to leave the family and the homeland, due to a different conjunction of circumstances, these children interpret their displacement either as an adventure or as an opportunity for social evolution or as an imposed necessity, making it clear that fragmentation is the common denominator in their experience.  The paper concludes that during the Greek Civil War childhood underwent a major transformation; children were seen as the Communist Party or the State's capital, which could be used for the realization of their respective political visions and as such childhood was deeply politicized and detached from the family context.

Vassiliki Vasiloudi holds an MA in Children's Literature from the University of Reading (UK) and a Phd in the same field of studies from Democritus University of Thrace, Greece.  She is currently conducting research in the shifting notions of childhood during the Greek Civil War and in the reading matter produced for the indoctrination of children either by the Greek Communist Party or the National State.

Vassiliki Theodorou is Associated Professor of Modern Greek History in Democritus University of Thrace, Greece.  Her research interests include the History of Children and Childhood and the Social History of Health during the 19th and 20th centuries.  She has published extensively in these areas in Greek and international journals.

Panel 3

Pavlina Bobič (Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia) - Time without fairytales: Children, literature and war in Slovenia, 1914-1918

This paper will concentrate on the selection of children's wartime literature (prose and poems) that was spread widely in the Slovenian lands of the Habsburg monarchy. Given that the First World War seriously disrupted family life and everything that was considered "normal" I am particularly keen to establish how the authors tackled the major and most delicate issues of wartime suffering, children's separation from brothers and fathers, dislocation, destruction and death. In what way(s) did children's literature reflect the desired representation of honour and patriotism, and which or whose idea(l)s were frequently brought forth from history as exemplary? For instance, it is well known that one of the most popular (and propagated) works at the time was Hugo von Hofmannstahl's Prinz Eugen - der edle Ritter, first published in 1905, while the Slovenian contemporaries never failed to emphasise Field Marshal Radetzky's benevolence towards children (he owned a manor in Tržič in Upper Carniola and was well remembered as a benefactor to pupils in the local school). Could there be any (subtle) links with the concurrent propagandistic rhetoric employed by the state and the Catholic Church, the latter being especially significant when considering the clergy's role in imparting basic messages – political as well as religious - about war to the faithful? The image(s) of children in wartime popular culture - cartoons, fiction and the news media - could likewise bear various meanings, from being great signs of moral innocence to hopes for national preservation. The Catholic view in this respect provides some illuminating interpretations. In addition I wish to look at the motive of a child in wartime literature for adults and examine the manner in which it tried to resolve the questions of war and peace. These themes have been hitherto largely neglected in the Slovenian First World War historiography and will hopefully provide an additional understanding of the time that ultimately brought about the collapse of the Habsburg Empire.

Pavlina Bobič graduated from Theology at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Ljubljana in 2001. Thereafter I embarked on MPhil studies in Social Anthropology at Oxford University and obtained the degree in 2003. In 2004 I commenced my D.Phil studies in Modern History at Oxford University. The title of my dissertation was War and Faith: The Catholic Church in Slovenia, 1914-1918, and was supervised by Professor Hew Strachan. In 2006 I was awarded a one-year fellowship at the Historial de la Grande Guerre in Peronne, France, and successfully defended the thesis in January 2009. Currently I am employed at the Institute of Cultural History at the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Ljubljana.

 

Maureen Gallagher (University of Massachusetts, USA) - Girls go to war: War pedagogy in German girls’ literature of the First World War

This paper will examine popular girls’ literature from the First World War to show how deeply embedded war discourses were in popular culture. Long before the horror of the prolonged trench fighting and the short supplies and food shortages on the homefront, the war was greeted with optimism and enthusiasm. The First World War was a time of challenge, but also of growth and renewal, a rallying point for a national community. Literature of the period stresses war as a powerful educational force for youth, teaching unity, maturity, and love for the fatherland. This paper will examine literature aimed at girls for how it navigates the intersections of gender and nationalism in discussions of WWI. The texts under consideration will come primarily from the popular bourgeois illustrated girls’ magazine Das Kränzchen (Union Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1888-1934), both its serialized fiction and its nonfiction. I will also examine the letters section of this periodical to see how the magazine’s female readers described the war. I will also include in my analysis other examples of popular literature about the First World War, such as Else Ury’s Nesthäkchen und der Weltkrieg or Marie von Felseneck’s Trotzkopfs Erlebnisse im Weltkrieg. My paper will show the special role of war in literature directed at young, female audiences. One does not find an emphasis on violence or chauvinistic ideas of national superiority; instead one finds a notion of Krieg als Erzieher, war as educator.

Maureen Gallagher is a Ph.D. candidate in German and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Massachusetts. Her research interests include German colonialism, Native Americans and the American West in German literature and translation studies. Her dissertation will focus on race, gender and nation in German youth literature of the Imperial period.

 

Carolyn Kay (Trent University, Ontario, Canada) - “Father’s in the war!” Children’s literature in Germany during World War One

My paper will consider how children (both bourgeois and working-class) were exposed to German propaganda in picture books and stories published during the war. I am specifically interested in books created during World War One to explain and justify the war to children – and I will also consider what sorts of gender roles were assigned in these books for girls and boys. My paper will thus offer important evidence on the history of childhood in the era of World War One, exploring the connections between children and the prevailing ideals of nationalism and militarism from 1914-1918. In the nineteenth century children’s books became more commonplace and popular in Germany, especially among the middle classes; technological advances also allowed book publishers to print more copies of books and to include illustrations of better quality. The result was a dramatic increase in the number of children reading books or being exposed to picture books by the turn of the century. For the historian this aspect of family culture is of great interest. Children’s books were often expressions of adult wishes and ideas, as is evident in the large number of children’s books on German soldiers, on colonialism, and on the war itself (many of which are currently located in the Kinder-und Jugendbuchabteilung of Berlin’s Staatsbibliothek). There were many books for children from the war years, some for very young children, others for preteens, and more detailed stories were available for teenagers. Writers addressed themselves both to male and female readers. The books for young children, as one example, glorified war heroes like General Paul von Hindenburg and depicted the Russians as bullies needing a good thrashing. These books are astonishing for the “breezy” manner in which they depict the war – showing war as a game where only the good must prevail and where the German soldiers are invincible. Some of the titles of picture books for young children include: Rudolf Presber, Vater ist im Kriege. Ein Bilderbuch für Kinder, 1915; Paul Telemann, Wie uns’re kleinen Hausmütterlein im Kriege müssen fleiβig sein, 1915; and Arpad Schmidhammer, Die Geschichte von General Hindenburg, 1915. Girls’ literature in WW1 included important works by authors Sophie Kloerss, Im heiligen Kampf – and Else Urys – Nesthäkchen und der Weltkrieg; these works featured girls working as nurses during the war or marrying war veterans and helping them to heal. Clearly much of the wartime children’s literature became propaganda, as authors sought to capture the hearts and minds of young readers – urging their support of the German army, the German leadership, and the German nation. When one considers the history of twentieth-century Germany, this exposure of young children to nationalistic propaganda is very significant.

Carolyn Kay is a history professor at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University (under the direction of Peter Gay) in 1994, her M.Phil from Oxford University in 1983, and her B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1980. At Trent University Kay teaches courses on Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, the rise of modern Germany, and episodes of terror in western history. Her publications include the book Art and the German Bourgeoisie (University of Toronto Press, 2002) and the forthcoming “How should we raise our son Benjamin? Advice Literature for Mothers in Early Twentieth-Century Germany,” in Dirk Schumann, ed., Raising Citizens in the „Century of the Child“. Schooling, Child Welfare, and Child Rearing in America and Central Europe in the Twentieth Century (New York: Berghahn Books, 2010). She is currently at work on a book on bourgeois children in Imperial Germany.

Panel 4

Iris Fischer (University of Düsseldorf, Germany) - Polish children as Displaced Persons after 1945

About 200,000 Polish children were deported by the Nazis to Germany. In most cases, these children were either taken away with their families or on their own and were exploited by forced labour. A small number of children were by force “germanized” and had to live with German families. After the war the Allies wanted to gather all Displaced Persons in camps and repatriate them to their countries of origin. Children, who had become victims of the Nazi’s policies, were easily repatriated, if the parents wished to return to Poland. However, those children, who had been germanized and were living in German families under German names, were harder to track down by the Allies and members of relief organizations and hence it was harder to repatriate them. Another problem was that a number of so called “unaccompanied children” were no longer interested in returning to their native country. Many had lost their families and relatives or did not know anything about what had happened to their families. Some of these children or teenagers emigrated to Canada or to the United States. The new communist regime in Poland, however, was keen in getting these children and young people back. The regime wanted the young people to help rebuild the country and besides, they intended to educate the new generation in the ethos of communism. In my paper I explain the relationship between the leaders of the new communist regime in Poland and the deputies of the Allies and the relief organisations, which were responsible for the repatriation of the Polish children.

Iris Fischer, M.A in history and a PhD candidate at Düsseldorf’s Heinrich-Heine University, is focusing her PhD on the fate of Polish children during the war and their repatriation procedures once the war was over. She teaches a course on the fate of displaced persons in Germany at the European University Viadrina at Frankfurt/Oder. She holds a scholarship from the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation. In addition, she works at the Berlin Centre for Democracy, where she is currently preparing an exhibition entitled “Children during the War. Poland 1939-1945”. The exhibition displays post-war drawings made by Polish children just after the war.

 

Lynne Taylor (University of Waterloo, Canada) - The best laid plans… The challenges of unaccompanied DP children in Germany

Six months after the end of World War II, there remained some 600,000 to 700,000 displaced persons (DPs) in Germany, non-German refugees who either could not or would not return home, for a variety of reasons. These people became charges of a new international, United Nations organisation - the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) - established in 1943 in order to deal with the postwar humanitarian crisis expected to take shape in postwar Europe. Daniel Cohen has suggested in his article “Between Relief and Politics” (JCH 2008) that the post-WWII relief operations spearheaded by UNRRA represented a seismic shift in the nature of international relief work, from private organisations to a supra-state body, from a mission of charity to one of rehabilitation, implemented by trained social welfare workers. One of the challenges facing these welfare workers was dealing with the children among the DP population, in particular, the 20,000 to 30,000 unaccompanied children (children either orphaned or separated from their families by the war). Their mission was not just to provide charity for the children, but to rehabilitate them for re-entry into so-called “normal” society. This proved a much more difficult task than first anticipated, in spite of the workers’ training (or perhaps because of it). This paper will explore UNRRA’s plans and the challenges facing the workers in trying to rehabilitate the children.

Dr. Lynne Taylor as an Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada. For the past twenty years, her research has explored state-society relations in the context of war, with World War II and its impact on Europe as her case study. Having published a book (Between Resistance and Collaboration, Palgrave, 2000) and numerous articles on the Nazi occupation of northern France during World War II, she has now shifted her attention to the post-WWII displaced persons (DPs) crisis in Germany, focusing on one group of DPs in particular, unaccompanied children (children orphaned or separated from their families by the events of war) and using them as window onto policymaking regarding the displaced persons and its consequences. She has just published a book, Polish Orphans of Tengeru (Dundurn Press, 2009) about a group of Polish unaccompanied children, and is writing another on unaccompanied DP children in Germany.

Panel 5

Jana Buresova (University of London, UK) - ‘Wicked step-mother’ or ‘Fairy god-mother’? Some experiences of Czechoslovak refugee children in Britain during WWII

This Paper proposes to examine the little-known experiences of Czechoslovak child refugees in Britain during WWII, and the lasting impact of those experiences, both positive and negative. Some children escaped with their parents, others came alone on the Kindertransport or were sent to unfamiliar family/friends; all endured the pain of separation, displacement, adjustment, and acceptance/rejection. One child recalled being spat upon and interned on the Isle of Man with his mother. Two key aspects of the Paper would therefore be 1. the transfer of affection (or otherwise) from an absent natural mother to a substitute mother figure for various periods of time, and the role, importance and influence of that person, 2. the preservation of national identity, language and culture within an alien host community. These points would be illustrated by examples such as the Czech Refugee Trust Fund hostel for lone children, cared for by matron ‘Mutter Huenigen’ and women helpers, and the Czech boarding schools established by the Czechoslovak government in exile to prepare children for their ultimate repatriation and eventual contribution to the homeland. I would draw upon oral interviews, testimonies and private papers, as well as secondary sources, and could show some examples of children’s work.

Jana Buresova is employed by the NGO, Refugee and Migrant Justice (formerly Refugee Legal Centre), and is a part-time PhD student at the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London. Her thesis topic is The Dynamics of Forced Female Migration from Czechoslovakia to Britain, 1938-1950. Previous conference presentations include: Nicholas Winton, Man and Myth: A Czech Perspective, The Kindertransport 1938/9 Seventy Years On. New Developments in Research, IGRS, University of London, September 2009 (to be published in Yearbook of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies, vol. 13, 2011). The Czech Refugee Trust Fund in Britain, 1939-1950, Exile in and From Czechoslovakia During the 1930s and 40s, IGRS, University of London, September 2008 (to be published in Yearbook of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies, vol. 12, 2010).

 

Eva M. Eppler (Roehampton University, UK) - How to eat Würstel?

This proposed paper analyses the trans-generational impact of World War II on children of Holocaust refugees. It focuses on the conflict that arises out of displacement (from Austria) and re-settlement (in the UK) between two generations of women, mother and daughter, over issues of language, culture and (individual and collective) memory loss, e.g. “how to eat Würstel”. It demonstrates the long-lasting effect of war on children by showing how not only the first, but also the second post-war generation gets caught up in this conflict. The proposed sociolinguistic study of three generations of Austrian Jews living in Great Britain is an investigation into how language use reflects the concepts of home, culture, memory, and identity. As part of a larger project establishing the socio-linguistic profile of the Austrian-Jewish Refugee community in London, I will use excerpts of an interview with DOR, her daughter VIV, and her grandson NIVC to analyze the underlying tensions between the family members. These are visible in their choice of words and their choice of English and/or German. DOR fled Austria in 1938, and has since been living in London without calling it her home. VIV, who is bilingual and bicultural, feels very much at home in London, and attempts to bring up her son NIC as a “proper Englishman.” DOR’s attempts to pass on her Austrian memories and culture to the following generations, interfere with VIV’s goal of educating her son about “English culture.” Their conflict between mother and daughter is emblematic of immigrant families coping with issues relating to alienation, integration and assimilation on a daily basis.

Eva M. Eppler is a Senior Lecturer of English Language and Linguistics at Roehampton University, London and convenes the MRes in Sociolinguistics there. She has been working on the Austrian Jewish refugee community in London since 1993 and has published extensively on cultural, linguistic, literary, gender and trans-generational aspects of the Holocaust: she contributed to the volumes Female Exiles in Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Europe (2007), Writing after Hitler. The work of Jakov Lind (2001), The Unifying Aspects of Cultures (2003) and edited Gender and Spoken Interaction (with Pia Pichler, 2009). She is presently preparing the monograph Emigranto for the ‘Austrian Studies in English’ Series of Braumüller, Vienna.

 

Ester Golan (Jerusalem, Israel) - Motherless daughters. A case study: Young adolescent girls who grew up without a mother in the aftermath of the Shoa

What effect did being a motherless daughter have in the formation of the young girls identity as a woman in the aftermath of the Shoa? What consequences did it have throughout her life cycle? Has it left its marks 60 years later on women survivors in their old age? The narrative of a young girl who left 1939 her home in Berlin on the Kindertransport to Scotland, fifteen at the time, a rather naïve, innocent girl, taken from a secure background, with a loving caring mother-daughter relationship - never to see her mother again, who perished on May 1944 in Auschwitz, as did her father and most of her relatives. As a survivor she reflects on 60 years, her trials and tribulations in life, as well as in spite of it all, her personal contribution towards building up the country and her efforts to build a better world for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “Literature shows that the mother-daughter relationship is considered the most significant of all intergenerational relationships”. Early maternal loss is a traumatic event with lifelong impact on a woman's sense of self and on her subsequent development. The emergence of an identity crisis occurs during the teenage years in which people struggle between feelings of identity versus role-confusion. (Erikson) These have often an emotional-psychological impact throughout a person’s lifetime. Feelings of isolation, confusion, and anxiety are common. ‘Unconditional Love of a mother’, the sense of protection, understanding and solidarity with a mother - were not available to thousands of young women.

Ester Golan, Sociologist, Educational Counselor, Author, Lecturer.

Panel 6

Megan Dale Lee (University of South Carolina, USA) - Girls with guns: The complex roles of female child abductees in the Lord’s Resistance Army

During the two-decade war in Northern Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was notorious for its signature tactic of abducting children/youth and forcibly conscripting them into the rebel movement. The LRA abducted both males and females of various ages. While both are widely portrayed as victims, the consistent use of males in active combat dually defines them as perpetrators. Meanwhile, popular portrayal of female abductees defines them solely as sexual slaves of LRA officers. This image is not inaccurate and this common fate and its impact on female abductees cannot be understated. Furthermore, the mantle of victimhood is reinforced for those returning home and is especially acute for the many returning with progeny of their LRA forced unions. However, this is only part of the story for the LRA’s female abductees. Though the primary role of females in the LRA was essentially “women’s work,” there were numerous instances of females serving in active combat roles, even at the junior officer level. This dual role complicates the traditional narrative, asserting that these women are not passive victims but active agents navigating traumatic experiences associated with both rape and armed conflict. This duality has resulted in unmet needs in their post-conflict lives exacerbated by well-meaning but misinformed aide organizations whose gender-stereotyped intervention segregates these women further from their communities. This paper will begin unravelling the complexities surrounding forced female involvement in the LRA and the further implications this has on women, their communities, and dominant narratives of gendered combat involvement in Uganda.

Megan Dale Lee is a graduate student currently working on her PhD in the history of human rights and children in armed conflict at the University of South Carolina. She received her MA at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she defended her thesis “Gray Zones in Modern Genocide” in May 2009.

 

Kristen E. Rau and Bridget E. Marchesi (University of Minnesota, USA) - Post-conflict invisibility of girl child combatants: Reflecting civil society and the social undervaluation of female labor

The presence of girl child combatants (GCCs) in armed conflicts around the world is increasingly acknowledged. Despite this trend, efforts by the development community and governments to appropriately address GCCs in the post-conflict DDR period are inadequate. GCCs assume a multiplicity of roles during their time in combat, working simultaneously or alternatively in combat and support positions. As such, the GCC experience defies monolithic interpretation, and must be understood as a highly complex synthesis of roles that, in many ways, mirrors the position of civilian women. The labor performed by GCCs, particularly care-giving and reproductive work, contributes to their invisibility in the DDR process and is a reflection of society-wide gendered social norms. Both scholarly work and practice has revealed that female labor is typically undervalued in various societies and that its reproductive importance is often overlooked. The failure to adequately meet the needs of GCCs is a developmental hazard. While conflict serves as a barrier to progressive social development, the post-conflict period presents a window of opportunity during which key dynamics in society that perpetuate conflicts may be confronted. The post-conflict period should be leveraged to promote both reconciliation and the reevaluation of destructive gender imbalances within society. Failing to do so compromises efforts to resolve conflict and contributes to the perpetuation of war, poverty, and gender inequity.

Bridget E. Marchesi is pursuing dual graduate degrees, a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Public Policy, at the University of Minnesota in the United States. She has also studied business and economics at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in the United States and Universita Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in Italy. Ms. Marchesi graduated from Princeton University in 2002.

Kristen E. Rau is pursuing dual graduate degrees, a Juris Doctor and a Master of Public Policy, at the University of Minnesota in the United States. She graduated magna cum laude from St. Olaf College in 2007. Ms. Rau specializes in human rights issues affecting Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Jane Rice (UK) - Female child participants in war: A historical perspective on representations

This paper intends to examine how female child soldiers have been represented in the media, by NGOs and by governments during cold war and post cold war conflicts. It will argue that the representation of female child soldiers as passive victims of meaningless wars is a way for governments, NGOs and other interested parties to discredit their opponents, in this case armed groups, and gain inarguable moral authority for their own regimes, casus belli or missions.

Examining how child soldiers have been represented since they became a problem of international humanitarian agencies, the paper focuses on 3 examples: the independence war in Mozambique in the 1960s, the recent civil war in Sierra Leone and the on-going Colombian civil war. For each conflict, the paper will show how female child soldiers have been characterised and how these characterisations are designed to legitimise stakeholders. The consequences of this for female child soldiers are usually negative. Instead of representing female child soldiers as agency-less victims and sex slaves for the purposes of an NGO’s cause or the moral legitimacy of an armed group (state or non-state), this paper argues that girls join armed groups for multiple and often complex and competing reasons. It is important, therefore, to examine girls’ individual decisions, motivations and experiences in armed conflict and to place these narratives within the political, economic and social realm. These structural causes of armed conflict, which lead girls to fight, can only be solved by deep system-level change. This change cannot be easily achieved by governments or NGOs.

Jane Rice has an MSc in Forced Migration from the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre and an MA in Anthropology and Social Research from the University of Aberdeen. She has focused her academic studies on the children’s experiences of conflict, displacement and refugeehood.

 

Panel 7

Gueorgui Chepelev (University of Paris 8, France) - The little victims of the war that never happened: The Soviet children’s cold war fears in the 1970s

While the Soviet children’s fears of war have been studied by psychologists and pedopsychiatrists, the historical and anthropological side of this topic remains largely underresearched. In the 1970s the threat of war, the «fighting for peace» and the «preparation to defend the Soviet Motherland» against the potential invader are the major themes of official Soviet discourse. In this context, the children were seen as the group exposed most of all exposed to the dangers of war. For this reason, their protection had been presented as one of the main goals of the Soviet state and society. The media, the school as well as the family were supposed to protect the children from traumatic psychological experiences, including the fears of war. However, interviews with Soviet children of the 1970s show that these protective measures did not entirely succeed as the fears of war were largely present in their minds. The intensity of this anxiety oscillated between moderate and cases in which children needed help from pedopsychiatrists. This paper sets out to explore on micro-level the causes of children’s war fears as well as the different ways in which they appeared and functioned, their content and forms. Was there really a correlation between the fears and the official propaganda campaigns and the political events abroad? How were the children influenced by the traumatic memory of the Second world war as transmitted by their families or by society? What were the gaps through which the scaring images of war penetrated into the overprotected «children’s world»? Where these penetrations part of the official/adults’ anti-war or defence mobilisation politics or were they merely «accidental»? How did the «children’s culture of war” (largely based on literature and films for children, games, toys, children’s «war folklore» etc.) with its «oft», «heroic», optimist and «game» vision of war coexisted and was influenced by the Soviet «adults’” war culture? How did the children and the parents managed to respond to the problem? This paper attempts to shed some light on these questions on the basis of interviews with the children of 1970s (now 35-40 years old) and their parents. The interviews were conducted in Moscow in 2006-2009.

Gueorgui Chepelev is teaching Russian language and civilisation in the Slavic Studies Department, at the University of Paris (Paris 8, Saint-Denis-Vincennes) since 2007. Among his fields of research count the following areas: 1) Second world war oral history and war photography (field work in Germany, Byelorussia and Russia in 2006-2009, results forthcoming in «War stories. The second world war seen and recited by Russian peasants», Research Center for Russian folklore, Moscow, 2010 (2 articles on testimonies of Soviet civil witnesses and on photographs taken by German soldiers on the occupied territory of the USSR); 2) the image of the enemy in Slavic traditional cultures (PhD in progress under the direction of Prof. Alexandr Lavrov). G.Chepelev worked as a Key expert on children’ social development in the EU (TACIS-Europaid) project «Children and Youth at Risk, Russian Federation» (2003-2004) and is the author of several reports on psychological and social problems of children at risk and their treatment in the context of the Russian educational system. He holds an MA in History and Languages at Moscow State University and DEA degree in Historical Anthropology at EHESS (School of High Research in Social Sciences, Paris).

 

Maggie Fearn (University of Swansea, UK)

Play as a resource for children facing adversity: An exploration of indicative case studies*

This paper explores the relationship between play, development and adversity from a contextual perspective. Based on the work of Kloep and Hendry (2002), Howard (2010) suggests that the ability and opportunity to play affords children a natural resource to meet intellectual and emotional challenge. Case studies focusing on therapeutic work with children caught in the bombing of Beirut in 2006, children abandoned to the state system in Romania, and the experiences of street children in Rio de Janeiro and Cali, are used to support this view. Using case evidence, we propose that development is influenced by the dynamic inter-relationship between challenge and the child’s available resources, and, crucially, that one of these resources appears to be the medium of play. If resources are in deficit then challenge is more likely to become adversity. The impact of adversity is particular to context, but comparison also shows connections between children’s disparate experiences. The case analysis shows that children interact with and influence their environment through play if they have the opportunity, which may or may not come with permission. With sufficient resources, independence, and peer support, children take the initiative to realise their aspirations and meet the challenge of adversity. Hyder (2005) argues that the majority of children involved in traumatic events can come to terms with their experiences and heal themselves through play. We propose that at times of adversity, supporting play is a key way to ensure children are empowered to meet life challenges and should form a central tenet of provision for children affected by war and conflict. (*co-author: Justine Howard, University of Swansea)

Maggie Fearn (MA) is a consultant specializing in non-directive therapeutic play. She has 30 years experience, particularly focused on child-led outdoor play. She works with a broad range of age and ability in South West Wales, and is currently involved in setting up a play project for street children in Cali, Colombia. In 2009 she completed an MA with distinction in Developmental and Therapeutic Play at Swansea University. Her research examined whether resources specially designed for outdoor play encourage beneficial communication behaviour and child agency between preschool aged children and their parents/carers. She is deeply committed to a child centred and inclusive ethos.

 

 

Insa Fooken (Universität Siegen, Germany)

World War II children coming of age: The impact of war-related early distress on attachment careers and mental health in adult development and aging

There is growing evidence of psychosomatic and mental health problems in the birth cohorts who were (small) children during World War II. Obviously, early war-related experiences of social loss, flight, expulsion, bombing and physical threat have a lasting but often ‘hidden’ impact on attachment, mental health, and gender-role identification during life course development and aging. Methods and sample: These phenomena became evident ‘by chance’ in an exploratory qualitative interview study on ‘late divorces’ with 111 subjects of three birth cohorts (1930, 1940, 1950). Especially the participants of the birth cohort of 1940 revealed some striking discrepancies between their ‘ego-perspective’ and the ‘alter-perspective’ of the interviewer as to their life stories and self-concepts. This discrepancy led to a reanalysis of the data. Results: Compared to the former ‘pre-war’ (born around 1930) and ‘post-war’ (born around 1950) children the ‘children of war’ war showed little narrative coherence as to attachment processes, they were rather defensive and presented a somehow paradox though gender-specific way as far as mental health issues and dealing with marital problems was concerned. Conclusions: Research on life-span developmental and biographical processes have to be related to the concomitant historical contexts in order to understand why and how people get ‘haunted by the ghosts’ of – obviously unresolved – early war-related trauma and distress in the course of aging.

Prof. Dr. Insa Fooken: I am a developmental psychologist with a focus on life-span development. As I always have been interested in the issue of lasting effects of early (aversive) experience I was part of the founding team of the research group on the children of World War II (w2k) that organized an interdisciplinary and international conference on “Children of War” 2005 in Frankfurt/Main. Since that time I published and edited several books and articles that are related to these topics.

 

 

Matthias Franz (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany)

Fatherless children of World War II in Germany: Their psychosocial impairment in adulthood

The long-term impact of war-related fatherlessness on childhood development and psychosocial impairment in adulthood in Germany can be illustrated (among others) by the results of two epidemiological studies. We investigated the impact of fathers absence within the first six years of childhood on psychic/psychosomatic impairment in later life. We used data from the Mannheim Cohort Study on the Epidemiology of Psychogenic (neurotic spectrum) Disorders to analyse the association between early fatherlessness due to world war II and the long term course of psychosocial impairment (N = 301). The absence of the probands father (> six months within the first six years of life) was a significant independent predictor of psychic/psychosomatic impairment in later life. These findings could be replicated within a recent epidemiological study of a German random sample (N=883) born before 1946 which was asked at an average age of 68 about psychiatric symptoms (SCL-27), the loss of father and experiences during the war. Again, subjects reporting a loss of father had more psychic symptoms (depressive symptoms, symptoms of social phobia, symptoms of mistrust) compared to children of war, who grew up in presence of the father.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Matthias Franz, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Universitätsprofessor für Psychosomatische Medizin und Psychotherapie, Facharzt für Psychosomatische Medizin, Facharzt für Neurologie und Psychiatrie, Lehranalytiker, Gruppenlehranalytiker (DPG, DGPT, DAGG), stellvertretender Direktor des Klinischen Instituts für Psychosomatische Medizin und Psychotherapie am Universitätsklinikum Düsseldorf, Vorsitzender des Instituts für Seelische Gesundheit und Prävention Düsseldorf, Delegierter der DGPT bei der AWMF. Hauptarbeitsgebiete: Häufigkeit, Verlauf, Ursachen und Prävention psychischer/psychosomatischer Erkrankungen. Entwicklung bindungsorientierter präventiver Interventionsprogramme (http://www.palmeelterntraining.de/). Entwicklungspsychologische Bedeutung des Vaters, Kriegsfolgeforschung, Alleinerziehende. Affekt-/Emotionsforschung, Alexithymie, Psychotherapieforschung.

 


 

Panel 8

Martin Modlinger (University of Cambridge, UK)

You can't change names and feel the same: The Kindertransport story of Susi Bechhöfer and W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz

"You can't change names and feel the same“: We find this sentence in a set of notes that W. G. Sebald took down in preparation for his Austerlitz manuscript, in a set of notes that describe the life of Susi Bechhöfer. Bechhöfer had come to England on one of the Kindertransports from Nazi Germany in the wake of WW II, this part of her past, however, had been withheld from her by her foster parents, leaving her with memories that could not be accounted for and propelling her towards a late but profound identity crisis when she discovers her real name and history as a jewish child whose mother was murdered in Auschwitz. This true story of childhood in wartime Germany and Britain, of searching for identity through childhood memories later in life, this reflection on history, trauma, and individual and collective memory, all this is taken up in W. G. Sebald's fictional account of Jaques Austerlitz, who, in the lauded novel of the same title, experiences a very similar fate and so becomes the focus of even more general mediations on the nature of memory and history in the face of trauma. My talk shall explore the respective relationships between wartime childhood, memory, and identity in both Susi Bechhöfer's account and W. G. Sebald's novel, address questions of fact and fiction that unavoidably arise from such transformations of historical events – and approach Sebald's text on Bechhöfer/Austerlitz with Sebald's own comment in mind:„You can't change names and feel the same.“

Martin Modlinger: Magister-Degree in English and History, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. Master-Degree in Ethik der Textkulturen (Ethics of Textual Cultures), University of Erlangen-Nürnberg and University of Augsburg. Scholarships and Prizes: Hölderlin-Scholar of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes,Cambridge European Scholar, Graduate Student Prize of the German Studies Association 2009. Publications: „Historical Truth and the Art of Emplotment: Hayden Whites Geschichtskonzeption und Art Spiegelmans Maus“, in: Gerd Bayer / Rudolf Freiburg (Hgg.): Literatur und Holocaust. Würzburg 2009, S. 237-265. „Einleitung: Ethical Turn? Geisteswissenschaften in neuer Verantwortung“ (zus. mit Agnes Bidmon, Manuel Illi, Daniel Gruschke), in: Christine Lubkoll / Oda Wischmeyer (Hgg.): Ethical Turn? Geisteswissenschaften in neuer Verantwortung. München 2009, S. 9-18.

 

 

Rosa Reicher (Heidelberg, Germany)

Teaching Holocaust memory on the paradigm of Kindertransport children

The presentation is intended to examine experiences and memories of the Holocaust in the context of children. The central interest is the (re)construction of a sensitive memory of the Holocaust through the drawing of boundaries defined in national, regional, social or cultural terms. The assumption is that the network (trans-)national and regional images and narratives that derives from the remembrance of Holocaust had long lasting effects on the memory culture of Europe in general and the relations of nation and regions in particular. For such a comparative consideration the critical reflection of theories and methods and central concepts is of crucial importance. This presentation focuses on issues concerning teaching the Holocaust in Europe. The most urgent task of conveying of Holocaust memory is the development of educational strategies, methods, didactics and social forms of memories. The Holocaust however moves unavoidably in still wider distance. The contemporary witnesses won't live in foreseeable future any more. The historical events are far already today behind. Teenagers cannot therefore really understand and comprehend the events. Otherwise the example of ‘Anne Frank’ shows how greatly the interest of pupils is in the genuine destinies of children during the Holocaust. It is important to add true tales that are lives affirming. Then the different life-stories of the ‘Kindertransport’ children can be used as an exemplary studying material and makes the insanity and the suffering under the Nazi rule noticeable very closely. In connection with this, working with emotions is an essential key moment of the contact and work with the Holocaust past for European pupils of later generations. The single aspect of the children of victims particularly at the example of ‘Kindertransport’ children may be a successful key of teaching the Holocaust in a meaningful coherence and connection of past, presence and future. The story of the ‘Kindertransport’ can regarded as an important part of the Holocaust education. With the special example of children testimonies the teacher get an aid and tool mechanism to inform his pupils about the Holocaust in an extensive and comprehensible way of memory. In regard on this the presentation would like to give annoyances to care for a sensitive working with the memory of the Holocaust and to find a form as the unique events in the memory can be kept in European schools. A critical perception of Holocaust memory allows interpreting in terms of the level of interaction within education and schools; participants are society actors: teachers and pupils, governments, national Holocaust remembrance days, (Jewish) museums, remembrance places, especially the ‘Kindertransport’ memorials and concentration camps. According to Michael Rothberg, “Traumatic Realism: The demands of Holocaust Representation” the focus of the proposal discussion will therefore be the following central questions: What role does Holocaust commemoration play in the contemporary society of Europe? How is teaching Holocaust changing in an age of globalisation? What kind of theoretical and methodological frameworks for the history of the experiences and memories of children of Holocaust exist in different nation cultures of Europe? How to achieve a remembrance that enhances an empathetic dialogue and what do emotional bounds of understanding mean for the educational work? Which effects have the ‘Kindertransport’ testimonies on the educational situation?

Rosa Reicher, has studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Heidelberg, and the Trinity College Dublin, and is now a PhD student at the University of Heidelberg, Institute of Education( thesis: Gershom Scholem als Bildungstheoretiker). Research interests: Gershom Scholem, Life and Works. Culture and Cultural Theory. Jewish Philosophy and Thought in the 17.-20. Century. Jewish-Irish History. German-Jewish Exile Literature. Italian-Jewish Renaissance. Holocaust Education and Memory Culture. Racism, Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia. Interfaith Dialogue. Youth Movements and Jewish Education.

 

 

Andrea Strutz (University of Graz, Austria)

Journey of no return: A biographical approach to Austrian Jewish children’s fate in 1938 and their life stories

Between December 1938 and August 1939 2,262 children left Vienna on a Kindertransport, among Joseph E. a fourteen-year old Viennese boy. After his arrival in Britain, he spent some time at a lonely famers place close to Leeds, before being interned as “enemy alien” at the Isle of Man in 1940. Accidentally he was allocated for a ship going to Canada, where he ended up again in a detention camp because the Canadian authorities expected mainly prisoners of war but not Jewish refugees. At the age of ten Leo D. witnessed the “Anschluss” 1938 in Graz, where he lived. Only Leo’s sister left Austria already in autumn 1938 with a youth transport organized by the Ahawah children’s home to Palestine. The rest of the family fled in March 1939 to Zagreb, crossing the border to Yugoslavia illegally with the help of facilitators. Some months later, the family joined the so-called Kladovo-transport that was supposed to take 1,200 Jews on the Danube to Palestine. However, for different reasons the transport failed. When the German Army marched into Yugoslavia in 1941, more than 1,000 Jewish refugees of the Kladovo-transport were systematically murdered; only a handful – mostly juveniles – managed to escape to Palestine. The twelve-year Leo, whose entire family was killed on the transport, was among those survivors. 1938 was a turning point in the lives of Joseph and Leo as this brief inside into their life stories demonstrates. Their once predictable future, their family life, their identity and their sense of cultural belonging were destroyed purely because they were Jewish. Although they could not and would not return permanently to Austria – after the war both started a new life in Canada respectively in the US – they still experience a very strong cultural link with their former home country, which I will elaborate in more details in my paper.

Andrea Strutz, senior researcher at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for History of Society and Culture (History Cluster) and lecturer at the History Institute/Contemporary History at the University of Graz, Austria. Main research interests: Migration, Jewish Displacement, National Socialism and Austrian compensation measures, Memory, Oral and Video History; current research project: Transatlantic Austrian migration to Canada after 1945.


 

Panel 9

M. J. Grant and Cornelia Nuxoll (Georg August University Göttingen, Germany)

Children, music and the military: A historical overview

The use of children as soldiers is generally regarded as a recent phenomenon, but there are areas in which children, including very young children, have always been employed by regular and irregular armed forces – particularly as musicians. Iconographic and other sources from ancient Greece, Rome, and the Khmer dynasty indicate that children were used in this context even then. Frederick the Great, often regarded as the founder of modern military music, set up a school for orphaned boys with a view to training them as military musicians, and British army sources suggest that boys as young as four were employed as drummers in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Popular literature, painting and songs testify to the emotional impact of these little drummer boys, particularly in the context of the American Civil War. In more recent conflicts, children have regularly been used in Maoist agit-prop groups, and anecdotal evidence suggests the important role of music in the recruitment and everyday lives of child soldiers in West Africa. Despite this evidence, very little research has been done into the use of children as military musicians through the ages. In this paper, we will give a preliminary historical overview derived from work currently being undertaken by an international team of researchers for a planned book on the subject, of which the speakers are editors.

Prof. Dr. M. J. Grant studied musicology in Glasgow, London and Berlin. Since 2008 she has been Junior Professor of Musicology at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen and head of the research group „Music, Conflict and the State“. Current projects in this context include judicial responses to the role of music in the Rwandan genocide, and the employment of children as military musicians in the British armed forces in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Cornelia Nuxoll M.A. studied social anthropology and religious studies at the Philipps-University Marburg and the Freie Universität Berlin, focusing on sub-Saharan Africa and on ethnomusicology. She also pursued studies in ethnomusicology at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, and has a postgraduate qualification in sustainable development. A member of the research group „Music, Conflict and the State“ since 2008, she is pursuing doctoral research on the role of music in the life of child soldiers in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

 

 

James Rice (State University of New York, USA)

Playmate, hostage, soldier, spy: Children and warfare in colonial Virginia, 1607-1632

England’s first permanent colony in America was profoundly shaped by war. For fifteen of its first twenty-five years Virginia, established in 1607, battled the Powhatans, a large, powerful centralized chiefdom encompassing approximately thirty sub-chiefdoms. The demands of this almost constant warfare very much molded Virginia’s subsequent development – its economy, politics, demography, and religion – and, on the other side of the conflict, transformed Powhatan life even more completely. In this enduringly antagonistic relationship, the two sides could not engage directly through commonly-accepted diplomatic conventions. Nor could they agree on the rules of warfare. Radical cultural differences meant that they did not even agree upon the ultimate purposes of warfare. What did link them together, what did define and shape their relationship during wartime, was a small group of children who served as hostages. This paper focuses on four such children, two from each side, who came of age between 1607 and 1632. More than mere hostages, they also served as playmates and spies, as translators and soldiers, as lovers and as sources of spiritual power. Sometimes, it was suspected, they were traitors. It was all very confusing, and fluid, and not at all done according to the rules that govern modern warfare. Thus their final role: for historians, these children’s lives illuminate a very different place and time, and a very different way of conceiving of, and waging war, at the beginning of the Anglo-American conquest of Native America.

James Rice is Professor of History at the State University of New York. His research and publications focus on Native Americans and colonists in early America, with particular attention to ethnohistory, environmental history, and legal history. He recently had published Nature and History in the Potomac Country: From Hunter-Gatherers to the Age of Jefferson (Johns Hopkins University Press), and is currently writing two other books: Tales from a Revolution: Bacon’s Rebellion and the Transformation of Early America (Oxford UP), and Nine Lives: Native Americans in the Chesapeake from Powhatan to the Present (Johns Hopkins UP).

 

 

Pavel Petrovich Shcherbinin, Evgeniya Aleksandrovna Khludentsova (Tambov State University, Russia)

Child soldiers during the First World War, 1914-1918: The experience of European children as witnesses to the war

In all warring European countries, the phenomenon of children escaping to front can be marked. From the beginning of war children of all social classes directed to army. Easily accepted by the bottom ranks, young volunteers became favourites of the military part which have sheltered them, became attached to a soldier's camp life. Children’s motivations were various: from the children's romanticism to patriotic sentiments, from thirst for adventures to religious and nationalist fanaticism. Means of propaganda of the at war countries which actively maintained children's patriotism and militarism ( by war games, toys, images of children-heroes) were the major stimuli for mass escapes to war. The military life and horrors of war deformed behaviour and psychology of young soldiers. Children got used to murders and quite often took part in operations: brought ammunition to soldiers, went on reconnaissance, guarded captives. Young soldiers matured earlier, started to smoke, drink alcohol and swear. Some of them performed feats, participated in battles, but the majority were only spectators in military conditions, and at danger were sent to the rear. However young soldiers again ran to the front and did not want to return to peaceful life. Armies of warring nations often used children as spies. For instance, the Germans pinned on children the subversive activity: damaging telephone and telegraph wires, unscrewing the rail, the excitation of panic, etc. Military experience of child soldiers has become one of the springboards to the formation of totalitarian regimes in Russia and in Germany, has formed a militarist consciousness and aggressive behavior, was the breeding ground for social experimentation and cataclysms of the twentieth century.

Pavel Petrovich Shcherbinin: Managing UNESCO chair under human rights and democracy of the Tambov State University; doctor of history, professor. Head of the Tambov section of the International Society for Human Rights, and director of the Tambov Centre of Gender Researches.

Evgeniya Aleksandrovna Khludentsova: Student, Institute of Law of the Tambov State University; member of the International Society for Human Rights, and owner of the ESOL Certificate (FCE level).


 

Panel 10

Susan Honeyman (University of Nebraska-Kearney, USA)

Listening to child refugees of “Wars on Terror”

If young readers can learn empathy for others through fiction, how much stronger the effect must be to read the true life stories of children displaced by war. One writer seems to have cultivated her transnational literary activism with this very insight in mind. Canadian Deborah Ellis has tirelessly recorded the testimonies of child refugees of war and presented them for the education of children who are otherwise “protected” from the ugliness of the wars their parents make. A more diplomatic urgency could not be fathomed. Historically children’s literature (at least in the U.S., the twentieth-century’s biggest war-maker) has suffered from a serious political lag time—during the Viet Nam war the only war novel young American students would be likely to read was Johnny Tremain, published by Esther Forbes in 1942, set during the American revolution. Only in the last ten or fifteen years has children’s literature really shaken the selective amnesia of nostalgia and protectionism that dominated most of the twentieth-century, but even then, the coverage of damage American action might have left is an even bigger challenge. Deborah Ellis has admirably risen above commentary by simply voicing what U.S. media tend to silence: the position of those who are directly, undeniably, and concretely affected by war. With her Breadwinner trilogy (2001-2003), Ellis proved that children’s literature could indeed broach the most politically volatile and mystified regions to readers who needed to have them demystified. With Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak (2004) and Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees (2009), rather than interviewing adults about children, she reduced mediation by interviewing children themselves. In this conference paper and presentation I intend to first contextualize the treatment of war in North American children’s literature, situate the rhetorical methods of Deborah Ellis in that context, and argue for greater inclusion of actual child voices in any discussion of children in world issues.

Susan Honeyman is Associate Professor of English specializing in interdisciplinary childhood studies, folklore, and child rights discourse. She is the author of Elusive Childhood: Impossible Representations in American Literature (2005, Ohio State UP) and Consuming Agency in Fairy Tales, Childlore, and Folkliterature (2010, Routledge) and has contributed to Children’s Literature, Children’s Literature in Education, and the International Journal of Children’s Rights (forthcoming).

 

 

Tamara Moellenberg (University of Oxford, UK)

"Thank you for reading": The publication, promotion, and reception of child soldier memoirs from Sierra Leone and Sudan

Accounts of the child soldier have achieved unprecedented popularity in recent years, arresting the attention of journalists, academics, and humanitarian workers alike. Literary audiences have proved no exception to this, and lately-released child soldier memoirs from Sierra Leone and Sudan are enjoying enthusiastic reception by Western audiences. In 2007, Ishmael Beah’s memoir, ‘A Long Way Gone: The True Story of A Child Soldier’, sold more than 62,000 copies in its first three weeks, debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times bestseller list for non-fiction and was sponsored by Starbucks for sale in its 6,000 stores. Just the year before, Dave Eggers, already a best-selling author in memoir, authored the story of former child soldier Valentino Achak Deng, ‘’What is the What’ to similar acclaim, garnering favorable reviews in a number of high-profile publications. This paper chronicles the reception history and influence of Beah and Eggers’ works, looking at media reviews, marketing strategies, publication details, and associated foundations and aid efforts to better understand the representation of the African child soldier in international, particularly American, culture and society. It seeks to explore wether the accounts by Beah and (through Eggers) Deng simply, as one reviewer puts it, places the child soldier at at risk for becoming yet another “phenomenon for mass consumption,” or whether the ability of the memoirs to mobilize awareness and international assistance suggests that literary testimony may yet prove key to united efforts to respond to the problem of child soldiering.

Tamara Moellenberg is a candidate for the M.St. in English (1900-present) at the University of Oxford. She hopes to continue her research on child soldiering and African writing by pursuing a D.Phil at Oxford or by returning to her native United States to continue her studies there.

 

 

Kirrily Pells (University of London, UK)

‘Forgiveness: it’s just what you say’: National narratives versus daily experiences in the lives of Rwandan children and youth

Globally, childhood is a political space: an arena in which the future aspirations and anxieties of societies are invested and identities are crafted, through discourses, policies and practices which dictate, either directly or by default, the position of children within society. In times of uncertainty and transition, the symbolic positioning of children in nation-building narratives assumes a greater importance. Post-genocide Rwanda forms a paradigmatic case where the language and symbolism of children and childhood is central to a new meta-narrative of national rebirth being created by the Government of Rwanda. However, Rwandan children are not passive consumers of these discourses. Instead, children and young people are actively engaged in moulding or reframing these narratives, highlighting a tension between national rhetoric and local, lived experience. In this light the paper explores the infusion of symbolic constructions of childhood into the new national meta-narrative of rebirth and reconciliation being generated by the Government of Rwanda. Drawing focus group research, it is argued that children and young people’s everyday experiences leads them to challenge the dominance of the nation-building narrative, not on the grounds of ideology but its failure to address the practicalities of daily life in the present. The paper concludes by considering how these obstacles may be overcome and the role of children and youth in processes of peace-building and reconciliation be strengthened.

Kirrily Pells is a postdoctoral fellow on an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded project entitled ‘Fratricide and Fraternité: Understanding and Repairing Neighbourly Atrocity’ based at the Human Rights Consortium, School of Advanced Study University of London. Her PhD thesis focused on rights-based approaches with children and young people in post-conflict situations with a case study on Rwanda. She has been a consultant for Save the Children UK, Save the Children Sweden, CARE International and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She has also worked with organizations operating at the community-level in both Rwanda and Bosnia.

 


 

Panel 11

Katherine Mikic (McGill University, Canada)

Cycles of violence and their effect on how children cope in school and in society

Multidisciplinary research on the effects of war on children has grown tremendously over the past 20 years paralleling the growth of human casualties in armed conflict. The fact is that children from war-affected societies experience high levels of trauma in their daily lives. In regions such as the horn of Africa, Afghanistan and Former Yugoslavia, humanitarian wars continue to pulsate within the collective memories of individuals and affect future generations of children. Moreover, the violence witnessed by children, is a breeding ground for more violence. Psychologists call this phenomenon “cycles of violence” or “ripple effects” that transfer to future generations and span out into society. Academic research questioning how cycles of violence affect children is sporadic and limited because it is difficult to measure and is usually of a multidisciplinary nature. Furthermore, the lack of empirical research in this area is troubling because it is a cycle that sorely impinges upon a child’s mental and physical development. Therefore, the overall goal of my paper is to investigate the gaps in the present literature on children and violence that warrant attention. It appears that much of the literature is psychological, so more specific questions will involve sociological studies and programs that deal with how children cope with self and others in school and in society. By opening this discourse at this time, it is my hope to gather knowledge from specialists in the field (researchers and practitioners) to perhaps deepen an understanding of what type of information is available.

Katherine Mikic, Doctoral Student, Department of Integrated Studies in Education, Faculty of Education, McGill University. Katherine Mikic is a doctoral student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She has travelled extensively and has taught Physical Education and English as a Second Language for over ten years in the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Canada. Her past research focused on sport education in Serbia and UNICEF Belgrade’s School without Violence program, which helps to combat aggression in Serbian schools through the use of sport. Her present area of research focuses on intercultural communication and violence prevention through the use of sport education in schools in post-conflict areas.

 

 

Hidyeuki Okano (Osaka University, Japan)

Victims and thugs: Unshared images of soldiers in Sub-Sahara Africa

This presentation reviews and evaluates several research trends on soldiers in Africa, by focusing on how each approach contributes to understandings on armed conflicts and how they overlook the other aspects which are not analyzed. First, ethical and practical oriented researches are reviewed. Despite it is necessary for presently held ‘justice’, these researches sometimes hinder understanding actual situation. The concept of child soldier is one of the examples. Scholars on child soldiers frequently describe on them without understanding the context such as war situations and whole picture of armed faction. They tend to emphasize the victimness of child soldiers while setting aside the other aspect of their lives. Thus, value and the sense of justice may hinder the understanding. This tendency is also hold true to researches trying to understand actual situation. Political science and anthropology are main disciplines which try to understand actual events in armed conflicts. Researchers of political science understand armed conflict through the concept of patrimonialism. In this trend, soldiers are considered as recruited through patron-client relation for economic gain. On this approach, soldiers are assumed as ‘rational men’ who use violence for individual gain. On the other hand, anthropology emphasizes the victimness of them. They claim their futureless situations which give people no choice but to be soldiers. Or, they regard soldiers as victim of social and economic surroundings. Even though scholars of the two approaches sometimes study on same armed group, each understandings are different completely without mutual understanding. After pointing the pro and cons of each approach, I advocate a necessity to study on structures of armed factions and lives there.

Hideyuki Okano, Ph.D candidate of Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University in Japan. My research theme is on recruitment of soldiers, structure of armed factions and domestic politics related to armed conflicts. By setting political science as major and anthropology as minor, I try to understand how politics and courses of wars affect to rank-and-file soldiers. Presently, I study the relation between Civil Defence Force (CDF) and Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) by cross-border fieldwork between Sierra Leone and Liberia.

 

 

David M. Rosen (Fairleigh Dickinson University, USA)

From patriot to Victim: Representation of child soldiers in public discourse

The representation of child soldiers as abused victims of adult manipulation is a relatively recent social phenomenon. Children and youth have participated in war throughout recorded history. In the past, the participation of children and youth in wars and revolution was accepted as an expression of patriotism. The death of a child soldier in war was frequently accompanied by public outpourings of patriotic fervor and religious sentiment. Analysis of historical military documents, American and British literature, Parliamentary debates, funeral orations, non-governmental organizations websites, journalistic and autobiographical accounts reveals a dramatic shift in public discourse in which child soldiers have been transformed from brave actors to passive victims. Furthermore, recent representations present conflicting images of child soldiers as both innocent cannon fodder as well as the most brutal, amoral murderers. The transformation of the image of the child soldier began in the late 19th century. This paper argues that the change derived from the intersection of two key cultural trends in Western society: the increased emphasis upon the innocence and vulnerability of the child and the rejection of war as a heroic and praiseworthy endeavor. These two trends combine in complex ways to yield the current image of the child soldier.

David M. Rosen is Professor of Anthropology and Law at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey, He has carried out field research in Sierra Leone, Kenya, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. His most recent book is Armies of the Young: Child Soldiers in War and Terrorism (Rutgers University Press, 2005). His recent articles include “Child Soldiers, International Humanitarian Law, and the Globalization of Childhood” and “The Child Soldier in Literature or how Johnny Tremain became Johnny Mad Dog.” His research focuses on the relationship between law and culture and he is currently carrying out a study of the Sierra Leone war crimes trials.

 

 

Christine E. Ryan (University of Winchester, UK)

Methodological and theoretical approaches to researching children: Lessons from the former child soldiers in Southern Sudan

Establishing a connection between methodological and theoretical approaches is crucial to conducting effective research. Failure to embrace the value of the subject’s input (i.e. the child) limits the research methods available and the validity of the final product. The stories of the former child soldiers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army demonstrate the richness of an approach that takes conceptualisations of ‘the child’ beyond the role of an irrational, helpless victim to instead form an interaction that is rich, valuable, and multi-dimensional. In the traumatic conditions of conflict/post-conflict scenarios it is difficult for the external researcher to judge what is ‘rational thinking’ or ‘age appropriate behavior’. The exploration in research of what decisions a child might make is often overridden by a preconception that they are a ‘victim’ and lack ‘rational thought’. In comparing such research to the voices of children in the field, I found a reoccurring disconnect, with the reality being far more complex. What is true for the academic also applies to organisations engaged in rehabilitation. In Southern Sudan I observed a lack of direct contact between NGO workers and the former child soldiers they aim to help, particularly in the policy formation process. Instead, I observed a tendency to revert either to past professional experience, or to a generalised concept of the child as a ‘victim’. In doing so, organisations undermine and contradict their own claims that children are a valuable part of society who should not be ignored, and risk creating ineffective policy.

Dr Christine Ryan is a lecturer at the University of Winchester, teaching politics, international law and security studies. She completed her PhD in 2009 at SOAS, University of London. Her PhD thesis addressed the issue of child soldiers’ political agency in Southern Sudan, based on 9 months of field research in Juba. Other academic areas of interest include post-conflict trauma and genocide. She has also worked as an investigative journalist and research consultant.

 


 

Panel 12

Natalie Grove and Abraham Kur Achiek (UNICEF, South Sudan)

Ending child recruitment in South Sudan: Examining approaches to child Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration

The UN Secretary General has described child recruitment as a practice “deeply rooted in southern Sudanese military culture”. The Working Group of the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict, since its inception in 2005 has consistently named the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (alongside other armed groups in Sudan) as responsible for the recruitment and use of children. There has however been a steady decline in the numbers of children associated with the forces since the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and November 2009 marked the signing of an Action Plan between the SPLA and the United Nations committing to end the association of all children within 12mths. This paper provides a critical examination of the approach to child Disarmament, Demobilisation Reintegration (DDR) in South Sudan. It begins with a brief review of demobilisation campaigns undertaken since 2000 with an emphasis on the policies associated with family tracing and reunification, incentives and reintegration packages. Following this, the paper examines the current relationships that exist between children and the SPLA and factors that affect recruitment and re-recruitment into the army. It questions whether the assumptions that underlined policy decisions during earlier demobilisations hold true in 2010. The authors explore the realities facing the estimated 1000 children still associated with the forces and conclude that a more nuanced approach to their reintegration will be required if the goal of a ‘child-free’ SPLA is to be met.

Abraham Kur Achiek a Dinka Bor, from South Sudan is himself, a former child solider. Recruited by the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army at the age of 15, he fought for 3 yrs in the civil war before escaping to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya where he remained for more than 7yrs with other ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’. He returned to South Sudan in 2004 where he now works as a Child Protection Officer with UNICEF and is the focal point for UNICEF’s DDR programs in Greater Bahr-el Ghazal.

Natalie Grove is an Emergency Child Protection Specialist from Australia and is currently seconded to UNICEF South Sudan. She maintains a conjoint appointment with the University of New South Wales in Sydney where her research interests include communities affected by conflict and participatory approaches to researching with young people.

 

 

Elizabeta Jevtic (University of Canterbury, UK)

Child DDR programmes in Uganda and Congo

In the recent decades, the international community has invested much effort and energy in setting up guidelines and standards to help the reintegration and rehabilitation of children associated with armed groups. Ensuring a successful return of children to the society and their communities, these programmes must be well developed. And since their development is fairly new, the paper to be presented will pose and search an answer to three very important questions: (1) how effective are these international codes, guidelines and standards, (2) are they applicable on the ground, and (3) how could they be adjusted to achieve the best possible long-term reintegration of ex-child soldiers? The paper will present a short overview of the international standards, and summarize their main guidelines and considerations. After the summary, these guidelines will be weighed against two case studies conducted in the region of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and the northern Uganda. The main objective of the paper is to analyze which international guidelines are implemented on the ground and to what extent. In addition, the paper will discuss whether there are guidelines which are of great value in theory, but find no possible applicability on the ground, highlighting why. The final aim of the paper is to suggest possible adjustments to guidelines to ensure their successful application, thus helping establish concrete norms for successful long-term reintegration and rehabilitation programmes conducted in the region.

Elizabeta Jevtic was born and raised in the region of Vojvodina, in the ex-Yugoslavian republic of Serbia. At the break of the war, her family was persecuted on political and ethnic grounds, and forced to flee to Austria. Personal experience has led her to study International Law and Diplomacy, with a focus in protection of Human and Child Rights during an armed conflict. Having received BA in International Law and Diplomacy (2003), and German (2003), as well as MA in German-Holocaust Studies (2004) from the Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, USA, Ms. Jevtic is currently pursuing a PhD degree in International Conflict Analysis from the University of Canterbury in Kent, UK. In addition to her academic endeavors, Ms. Jevtic has been working full time with the Preparatory Commission for the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization at the UN Vienna since 2005. As a consultant in the area of project and programme management, Ms. Jevtic supports the policy and operations development, and aids project management of her unit. In her free time, Ms. Jevtic loves to travel to Africa, or to other developing areas of the world to participate in humanitarian and relief expeditions.

 

 

Lysanne Rivard (McGill University, Canada)

The role of local sports and play activities in the social reintegration of children associated with fighting forces

This conference paper seeks to examine the theoretical frameworks and empirical evidence published over the past recent years on the use of sports and play activities in the social reintegration of children associated with fighting forces. Although family reunification programmes have been deemed to be fairly successful, social reintegration into a community can take years. Many children associated with fighting forces have to re-learn lost social and civilian behaviors that will enable them to function within a community. Furthermore, communities must be open to and actively involved in the reintegration process. In the past recent years, one approach developed for strengthening social cohesion in communities at risk and torn apart by war is the use of sports and play activities. Indeed, Sport for Development and Peace programs have gained respect and popularity in the international development community. As a result, most reintegration programs include some sports and play activities for children associated with fighting forces and community children. However, these programs are relatively new and have yet to be fully evaluated in terms of content, implementation and documentation of longitudinal results. I propose to critically review the research literature, from academic and international development contexts, that explores this topic in order to identify the gaps and to suggest new research paths. This review will contribute to part of a larger study that I am currently conducting which focuses on the social reintegration of children associated with fighting forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Lysanne Rivard: I am a PhD student in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University (Canada). I obtained my MA degree in Child Study at Concordia University (Canada) where I studied children’s rights in developing countries and did an internship in Sri Lanka with the Canadian International Development Agency and the Early Childhood Development Unit of the Sri Lankan NGO Sarvodaya. I worked for two years at UNICEF Canada and I am currently also working as a research assistant for FemSTEP, a study that aims to bring forward rural Rwandan girls’ and women’s vision for engendering poverty reduction strategies through the use of participatory methodologies.