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The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe's Families After World War IIby Tara Zahra
"No sooner had I finished this fascinating book than I remembered the shattering scene in Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise when the teenage orphans whom a fatherly priest has been shepherding to the safety of a secluded chateau suddenly turn on him like a pack of wolves and stone him to death. It is an unforgettable moment that seems to sum up all the madness of France's panic in the summer of 1940. But in its almost Jacobin ghoulishness, the event is also mysteriously implausible.
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
During the Second World War, an unprecedented number of families were torn apart. As the Nazi empire crumbled, millions roamed the continent in search of their loved ones. The Lost Children tells the story of these families, and of the struggle to determine their fate. We see how the reconstruction of families quickly became synonymous with the survival of European civilization itself.
Even as Allied officials and humanitarian organizations proclaimed a new era of individualist and internationalist values, Tara Zahra demonstrates that they defined the "best interests" of children in nationalist terms. Sovereign nations and families were seen as the key to the psychological rehabilitation of traumatized individuals and the peace and stability of Europe.
Based on original research in German, French, Czech, Polish, and American archives, The Lost Children is a heartbreaking and mesmerizing story. It brings together the histories of eastern and western Europe, and traces the efforts of everyone--from Jewish Holocaust survivors to German refugees, from Communist officials to American social workers--to rebuild the lives of displaced children. It reveals that many seemingly timeless ideals of the family were actually conceived in the concentration camps, orphanages, and refugee camps of the Second World War, and shows how the process of reconstruction shaped Cold War ideologies and ideas about childhood and national identity. This riveting tale of families destroyed by war reverberates in the lost children of today's wars and in the compelling issues of international adoption, human rights and humanitarianism, and refugee policies.
World War II tore apart an unprecedented number of families. This is the heartbreaking story of the humanitarian organizations, governments, and refugees that tried to rehabilitate Europe's lost children from the trauma of war, and in the process shaped Cold War ideology, ideals of democracy and human rights, and modern visions of the family.
2012 George Louis Beer Prize, American Historical Association
Co-Winner, 2012 Radomir Luza Prize, American Friends of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance and the Center Austria of the University of New Orleans
About the Author
Tara Zahra is Associate Professor of History at the University of Chicago.
University of Chicago
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