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Then we have to go and have lunch. Replayed through their senses, remembered via taste or sound or smell, the memories of the Kriegskinder bring past events into the present.

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To read these memories is to be brought closer to a place of understanding: by seeing them as children, even as we look at them as old people, we acknowledge the ambiguities of who they are. Yet the majority either deny the misdeed or break with their parent. Grandchildren thus often possess the family memory without having experienced the events themselves. Helwig found this when she had children herself. It opened up a whole dialogue between us. This was her real aim — initiating a conversation.

Helwig hopes that by bringing together recollections from childhoods in Nazi Germany with portraits of a generation whose memories will soon vanish, her book can help change that.

[Children's Workshop] Growing Up During WWII

The deeds and responsibility of the perpetrators are concealed. Thus also the suffering of the victims, the role of the spectators The silence is often passed on to the next generation. Kriegskinder is published in a climate that gives a renewed urgency to these conversations.

In her foreword, Senfft acknowledges how collective silence can infect wider groups. Below is a selection of six portraits from the book, which is out now, published by Hatje Cantz. She is married to an upholsterer; it has a nice smell of leather, but ants run through the apartment.

My aunt puts down herring heads to divert the ant trails. In the apartment, there is a gorgeous sofa and on it are some small booklets. I suffer the worst shock when I realize that they are about concentration camps and that those camps were in Germany. Those pictures View image of Peter, born in Credit: Frederike Helwig. They shoot the big Keeshond who lives there with us because he barked.

He was my friend. One of the soldiers places me on his horse and rides with me through the village. On my birthday in , my mother decides to try and flee to the West with us children, my grandmother and a few other relatives. We walk the entire day, for miles, and she does not hear what I am trying to tell her.

Dead people and horses lie on the roadside, all mixed up. We sleep in barns, abandoned factories, in trains, in camps where they have delousing showers and thin soups from field kitchens. Sometimes they bomb us. In the course of this my grandmother and other relatives die. Only my mother, my sister, and I survive.

All the glass panes shatter. My mother sits with us children in a sand pit at a playground because she thinks this way nothing is going to happen to her.

Canadian Children and the Second World War | The Canadian Encyclopedia

There the mother and daughter lie on the bed, naked, raped with their throats cut. My grandmother shouts at the drunken Russian until they leave. View image of Gisela, born in Credit: Frederike Helwig. When we hear on the radio that Silesia must be vacated we join the crowd heading east. Every evening when it gets dark the road must be vacated and everyone has to look for somewhere to sleep.


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We are sitting with her at dinner when the animals jump wildly across the table and chairs. My grandmother finds cats disgusting and is appalled. But the woman forces us out of the apartment and into an old mine.

Growing Up in Berlin After World War II

Panic breaks out when the air raid sirens go off. More and more people push into the mine, some fall and are stamped to death. The cats have warned and saved us. View image of Hannelore, born in Credit: Frederike Helwig. The doctors can only observe that the appendix has burst and the pus has already reached the abdominal cavity. They say the only thing that may help is Penicillin. This is only available on the black market. Those over 16, including Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, helped with Air Raid Precautions ARP services, later known as Civil Defence during air raids, acting as messengers, fire watchers, or working with the voluntary services.

The work could be highly dangerous and many were killed while on duty. Bombing continued throughout the war, and in new weapons, the V1 flying bomb and the V2 rocket, caused more devastation and casualties. Standards of wartime housing in Britain ranged from dilapidated tenement slums to stately homes. A high proportion of families still had outside lavatories and no bathroom. Children often shared beds with brothers and sisters or parents.

During the war, over , houses were totally destroyed by enemy bombing. Many children had to re-locate several times, often into prefabricated, emergency homes like the one shown in this photograph. In all, 34 million changes of address took place during the war. Everyone living on the home front in Britain during the war had to cope with shortages of food and clothing.

Imported food could no longer reach Britain in such large quantities and food rationing was introduced in January Meat, sugar, butter, cheese, and eggs were all rationed, and people were encouraged to grow and eat their own vegetables and to try new recipes. Children joined in, growing vegetables at school and at home. Child health and welfare was a priority, so babies, children and expectant mothers had special allocations of milk and were given vitamins in the form of orange juice and cod liver oil.

From June , clothing was also rationed. This was a particular problem for parents of growing children and in the scheme was adapted so that children were allocated extra clothing coupons. Clothing exchanges were also set up and run by the Women's Voluntary Service WVS where parents could exchange clothes and shoes that their children had outgrown for larger items. However, children's shoes remained in short supply throughout the war. The war disrupted the education of many children. The mass evacuation of upset the school system for months and over 2, school buildings were requisitioned for war use.

One in five schools was damaged by bombing, and air raids frequently stopped lessons for hours, leading to a decline in attendance. Although many schools were evacuated during the war, others chose to stay open and 'make the best of it', converting cellars and basements, as shown in this photograph, into makeshift classrooms. Teachers, books, paper and equipment were all in short supply.

When the war began in , most children left school at The Education Act changed this, introducing free secondary education for all children and a leaving age of 15, but it didn't take effect until after the war.

Second World War (1939 – 1945)

During the war, many children between the ages of 14 and 17 were in full-time employment. They worked in agriculture, in offices and the major industries such as engineering, aircraft production, shipbuilding and vehicle manufacture. From all those aged between 16 and 18 were required to register for some form of national service, even if they had a full-time job. Boys received their call-up papers for the armed forces when they turned 18 and girls were also conscripted, either joining one of the women's auxiliary services or taking on other essential war work.

Younger children were expected to do their bit by salvaging scrap metal, paper, glass and waste food for recycling. They also raised money for munitions, knitted 'comforts' for the troops, and were encouraged to 'Dig for Victory' in gardens and allotments. Despite wartime conditions, children still had time for games and entertainment. Cinemas were popular with both teenagers and younger children.

Bomb sites made tempting play areas and hunting grounds for shrapnel souvenirs, and toys and games with a wartime theme were very popular, usually homemade because of the wartime shortages.

The arrival of large numbers of American soldiers known as GIs and airmen in was an exciting development and brought American culture to British children in person for the first time. On VE Day there were thousands of street parties, fancy dress parades and bonfires held across the country. Although food was still rationed, great efforts were made to provide treats for children. Similar events took place on a smaller scale after the Japanese surrender. After the war ended, family life remained disrupted for many months, and sometimes longer.

Evacuees who had stayed in the country now rejoined their families after years of separation. And for children who had lost parents or loved ones, or had been made homeless by the war, life would never be the same again.

Growing up between 1939 and 1945 – Hidden Children under the NS-Regime

The Labour landslide victory in the General Election of paved the way for new reforms to improve the health, welfare and education of children. Based on the proposals in the Beveridge Report, the National Health Service was introduced in , giving free healthcare to all. The Family Allowance was established and secondary schools were available for all children over