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'War, Women and Song'

The Case of Hanka Ordonówna

Beth Holmgren

This article analyses the performances of the Polish cabaret singer-cum-movie star, Hanka Ordonówna/Ordonka, during the Second World War, and subsequent representations of her through physical monuments and biographical treatments in print and on film. It locates Ordonka in the context of female performers entertaining the troops, the lone woman on the front socially approved for her tasteful display of a morale-boosting sexuality before an audience of largely male combatants. ‘War, Women and Song’ argues for Ordonka’s exceptional case due to her popular pre-war celebrity and her own war time experience, when she shared or witnessed her compatriots’ tragic fate of occupation, deportation, mass death and, in many cases, permanent exile. In her war work, Ordonka doubly incarnated for her audiences a lost pre-war culture of urbane sophistication and eroticised charm and a war time victim turned conventional national heroine when she spearheaded a rescue mission of five hundred Polish children orphaned by Soviet atrocities. Ordonka came to represent to her nation both an irresistible lover and an exemplary surrogate parent with the qualities of a self- sacrificing matka polka (Polish mother).

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Yitskhok Niborski

Whereas Yiddish flourished in France in the immediate post-war period, partly due to the influx of survivors from Poland and Lithuania, the failure to ensure transmission of Yiddish to the following generation led to a decline. From the 1970s a number of significant academic institutions and programmes were created and the Bibliotheque Medem became a centre of documentation and acquired the bibliographic collections of libraries that had closed. In 2002 the Maison de la Culture Yiddish-Bibliotheque Medem (MCY) was established with the task not only of preservation but also of creating cultural opportunities through projects including publications, adult and children's education, and through encouraging the use of the spoken language.

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Ruth Ginio

The article examines the ways in which French officers manipulated the image of the "savage and violent" African colonial soldier. While the background for the development of this image was the general European perception of Africa as a violent space, during World War I, officers, as well as parts of the French public, began to see Africans as "grown children" rather than savages. However, as this image served French military purposes and made the soldiers useful on the battlefields, it was not rejected outright. I look at the debate around recruiting Africans to serve in Europe on the eve of World War I, and the French attempts to refute the German accusations around the deployment of African soldiers in the Rhineland during the 1920s. Finally I examine how, thirty years later, during the Indochina War, African officers dealt with these conflicting images in reports about violent incidents in which African soldiers had been involved.

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Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer

This article focuses on the intertwinement of the Romantic and the Jewish tradition in Maurice Sendak's picture book Dear Mili (1988) whose original text was based on a legend retold by Wilhelm Grimm, the German fairy tale collector. This picture book demonstrates precisely the extent to which the project of writing about Jewish children is influenced by elements of Romantic thought such as proximity to nature, the child as symbol of hope, the contrast between imagination and education, and the new concept of the “strange child”, created by the German Romantic author E.T.A. Hoffmann. Moreover, by juxtaposing Romantic images of childhood with the Shoah, Dear Mili works in multiple dimensions that transcend the meaning of the original story thus transforming it into both a timeless parable about the perpetual menace to children from war, violence and loneliness and a historicised narrative about the Holocaust.

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A Question of Silence?

Odette Rosenstock, Moussa Abadi, and the Réseau Marcel

Miranda Pollard

This article investigates one of the most successful Jewish rescue networks in Vichy France, the Réseau Marcel, and specifically how its history, and that of its co-founders, Odette Rosenstock and Moussa Abadi, was created within multiple gendered narratives that consistently emphasized his leadership and often silenced or muted her achievements. Based in Nice, the Réseau Marcel which saved over 500 children from deportation, consisted of just three people: its young Jewish co-founders and the local Catholic Bishop, Monsignor Paul Rémond. Although deported, Rosenstock, always Abadi's equal, survived the death camps. After the war, the reunited couple returned to Paris, where Rosenstock became a distinguished doctor in public health and Abadi a successful theater critic. At the end of their lives, the Abadi re-united with many of their hidden children, who in their honor formed a public Association that has played a key part in shaping the history of the Réseau Marcel.

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Thomas K. Hubbard

Adolescent sexuality has been at the forefront of the recent “Culture Wars,” as is clear from the many news stories and political battles over issues such as sex education, teen pregnancy and STDs, Child Sexual Abuse, enhanced legal regulation of sex offenders, pedophiles on the internet, “sexting” and child pornography. On the one hand adolescents today are more sexually mature than at most historical periods: physical puberty occurs ever earlier (Moller, 1987), while children’s capacity to access the same media as adults grows ever more sophisticated. Already in 1982, Neil Postman presciently observed that electronic media had obliterated the historical technological superiority of literate adults relative to not‐yet‐fully-literate children (Postman, 1982). At that point, he was thinking mainly of television, but his observation has become even more true in the digital age, when adolescents are often the ones teaching their parents and grandparents. 1982 had not yet grasped what would be the ubiquity of MTV or cheap, highly graphic visual pornography in many parents’ closets, or if not there, on their kids’ computer screens. Children have become the most clever at accessing media at precisely the time when popular media culture is more saturated with verbal, musical, and visual images of sexuality than ever before.

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Eva Kalousová

‘When I witnessed thousands of children being sent to gas, I swore that if I ever escape this hell alive one day I will devote my future life to the education of Jewish youth when such injustice exists.’ These were the words of Honza Brammer, a survivor of Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, a former tutor of young prisoners in these camps and a colleague of the well-known Fredy Hirsch. This young man, originally from Uherský Brod in Moravia, left Czechoslovakia in 1949 for Israel and there accomplished his war decision. He became an organizer of schools in the Israeli desert and besides the work he loved, his life-long passion was photography. Honza Brammer or Dov Barnea as he called himself in the Eretz took hundreds of pictures of people, places and the nature of Israel throughout the post-war decades and his photographs present an interesting mosaic of everyday life there.

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Interfaith Families

A Jewish Perspective

Edward van Voolen

In an open, secular society, young people encounter one another outside the traditional framework of their respective religions. This article describes a Jewish approach to the issues and possibilities that arise when an interfaith marriage is contemplated. The perspective is that of a rabbi working from a progressive Jewish position, given the particular concerns of post-war European Jewish communities. What kind of ceremony might be appropriate? What thought should be given from the beginning to the religious education and identification of future children?

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Nurturing Romanian Socialists

Reading Primers Before, During and After the Second World War

Simona Szakács-Behling and Mihai Stelian Rusu

Drawing on a sample of children’s reading primers published between 1938 and 1953 in Romania, this article explores ways in which both the monarchic and the communist regimes used primary education to fashion political subjects before, during, and after the Second World War. Theoretically grounded in a sociological approach and empirically grounded in textual and visual thematic content analysis, the findings reveal significant semantic shifts in understandings of the “nation” in relation to internal and external anchors, including religion, monarchy, and work, but they also indicate important continuities relating to an ethos of political submission (toward God and king, or the party and the Soviet Union) and patriotic solidarity (with the Romanian Orthodox nation or the workers’ proletarian nation).

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Alan B. Spitzer

The May 1948 issue of Les Temps Modernes published three short essays entitled "Nés en 1925." The young authors were Jean-François Lyotard, who was to become a philosopher of international distinction; Paul Viallaneix, his generation's outstanding Michelet scholar; and Pierre Gripari, the author of a wide variety of works including popular books for children. They had been comrades (along with the future sociologist Alain Touraine), at the khâgne of the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, which prepared a student elite to compete for entrance into the École normale supérieure. Their contributions reflected the experience of an intense traditional education under the pressures of war and the Occupation. Their subsequent careers reveal the relation of the permanent stamp of a common formation and the individual experience of particular circumstances.