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Children Born of War

A European Research Network Exploring the Life Histories of a Hidden Population

Kimberley Anderson and Sophie Roupetz

Through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, the research and training network Children Born of War (CHIBOW) seeks to explore the lives of children born to local mothers and fathered by enemy soldiers, occupying forces, and locally stationed and peacekeeping forces during conflicts of the past one hundred years. Born both through mutually consenting “love relationships” and from rape, children born of war are a hidden population, relatively understudied and seldom spoken about in public spheres. Fifteen early career researchers at eleven academic institutes across Europe will address this topic from a multidisciplinary perspective. This training network will act as a platform to share the life stories of people affected by war in the most profound ways and to alleviate some of the silence surrounding their experiences.

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Negating Diaspora Negation

Children's Literature in Jewish Palestine During the Holocaust Years

Yael Darr

For years, it had been assumed that since the end of the Second World War and up until the Eichmann trial in 1961, Hebrew culture in Israel tended to repress the Holocaust or narrate it according to the Zionist ideology's viewpoint – to accentuate the events of the rebellion against the Nazis and to infer from them a lesson of national revival and restoration. The consensus concerning children's literature, in particular, maintained that it had been utterly committed in the early decades of statehood to extracting out of the Holocaust a 'fortifying tale' bearing a national lesson. This paper, however, argues the existence of a developed Holocaust discourse in children's literature written in Jewish Palestine during the war years, and suggests that children's literature even predated adult literature in setting the Holocaust theme at centre stage. This article aims to shed light on a rare narrative in the Israeli public discourse of the Holocaust: the literary story told to Jewish children in Palestine during the years of the Holocaust. At the time, this new narrative for children was extensive and diverse. For the first time in the history of Zionist children's literature, it challenged the Diaspora-negating code that had been dominant since its beginning. Nevertheless, only a few years later, with the founding of the State of Israel, this new narrative was rapidly 'forgotten' by the Israeli collective memory and proceeded to be neglected by literary and educational research as well. Although it spanned a short time period and failed to leave a literary impact on writings for children in Israel, this Holocaust narrative is tremendously important, having evoked the unique voice of the Jewish settlement in Palestine (the Yishuv) during the Second World War. It also serves as a case study of the crucial function of children's literature within the public discourse during traumatic times, illuminating the advantages of children's literature as a marginal and peripheral form of communication in the public domain.

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Rethinking France’s “Memory Wars”

Harki Collective Memories, 2003–2010

Laura Jeanne Sims

Since 2005, scholars and politicians have employed a framework of “memory wars” to interpret conflicts over the colonial past in France. The case of the Harkis, Algerians who fought with the French Army during the Algerian War of Independence, and their descendents, challenges basic features of this paradigm. Disputes among children of Harkis about how to interpret the French colonial project in Algeria and their fathers’ motivations for supporting the French reveal the limitations of considering the Harkis and other participants in the Algerian War as unified memory camps, a constituent element of the memory war model. Conceiving of memory debates in terms of a “war” also obscures the ways in which narrating the past can constitute an act of reconciliation and signal a desire for inclusion, as it has for Harki sons and daughters.

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The Rescue, Relief, and Resistance Activities of Rabbi Zalman Schneerson

Does it Count as a Rescue When a Jew Saves a Fellow Jew?

Harriet Jackson

This article explores the relief, rescue, and resistance activities of Rabbi Zalman Schneerson and the Association des Israélites pratiquants (AIP) in Vichy France. The rabbi's prior experience in clandestine activities and spiritual resistance in the Soviet Union served as a training ground for the resistance work he eventually undertook in Vichy. Schneerson and his family were able to shelter, feed, and educate more than eighty children during the war, save at least fifty-three children from deportation, and help smuggle at least thirty-five children to Switzerland. That Schneerson and his family survived and rescued Jewish refugees in Vichy France, a regime that willingly deported nearly half of its foreign Jewish population to death camps, demonstrates that he and his wife Sara were not novices in clandestine work. Indeed, their staunch resistance to Vichy antisemitism was largely a legacy of Hasidic resistance to antisemitism under Soviet rule.

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“Such a Poor Finish”

Illegitimacy, Murder, and War Veterans in England, 1918–1923

Ginger S. Frost

Historians usually analyze changing gender constructions in the criminal courts after World War I through cases involving men and women. Using a different analytical lens this article explores two well-publicized murder trials involving war veterans and illegitimate children, one of a soldier who murdered his wife’s daughter from an adulterous affair and one who killed his own son. Although notions of masculinity had changed, the police, courts, and Home Office used traditional factors to assess punishments, including the degree of provocation, the behavior of the women involved, and the issue of deterrence. The press, however, was more sympathetic to the veterans, regarding them as victims of circumstances, much like women who committed infanticide. This new presentation did not succeed with the Home Office, especially as the war moved further into the past. By 1925, men’s war service had less influence on punishment than Victorian ideas of gender and criminal responsibility.

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Benoît Glaude

The forms taken up by French comics in the Offenstadt brothers' wartime weeklies echo other representations of the Great War produced behind the front lines, including the music hall, popular imagery and illustrated newspapers. The Offenstadt brothers' picture stories, which staged comic operas starring soldiers and conformed to French propaganda instructions, were a hit with soldiers and civilians (including children), aside from some offended Catholic critics. This essay contextualises their success, focusing on the reception of the comics, particularly those by Louis Forton.

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Perspectives on Cinema and Comics

Adapting Feature Films into French-Language Comics Serials during the Post-war Years

Alain Boillat

This article focuses on the relatively little-known editorial context of children’s French-language comics serials at a time when they constituted the main distribution channel of the bande dessinée medium (before the album became the dominant format), from the immediate post-war years to the mid-1950s. I examine the importance given to the adaptation of films into bande dessinée by studying the editorial strategy to which this practice of adaptation contributes (focusing on the magazine L’Intrépide [The daredevil], which, at the time, specialised in adaptation) and the narrative and figurative aspects of the adapters’ approaches. I show in particular how bandes dessinées are inscribed in genres that structure the periodical publications, where these were previously established in the cinematographic domain such as the swashbuckler and the western. The processes of condensation or amplification of the narrative, as well as the use of the feuilleton, are at the centre of the case studies.

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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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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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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.