PUBLI : Laura Hobson Faure, « Exploring Political Rupture through Jewish children’s diaries : Kindertransport children in France, 1938–42 », Journal of Modern European History, vol. 19, n° 3, p. 258–273


This article focuses on France as a refuge for unac­com­pa­nied Central Euro­pean Jewish chil­dren on the eve of World War II. Contrary to the United Kingdom, which accepted 10,000 Jewish chil­dren through Kinder­trans­port, only 350–450 chil­dren entered France. This article utilizes children’s diaries and orga­ni­za­tional records to ques­tion how chil­dren perceived and recorded their displace­ment and reset­tle­ment in France, a country that would soon be at war, and then occu­pied, by Nazi Germany. By ques­tioning how these events filtered into and trans­formed children’s lives, I argue that the shifting polit­ical envi­ron­ment led to profound trans­for­ma­tions in these children’s daily lives long before their very exis­tence was threat­ened by Nazi–Vichy depor­ta­tion measures. Most chil­dren were cared for in collec­tive children’s homes in the Paris region in which left-oriented educa­tors estab­lished children’s republics. Yet the outbreak of war trig­gered a series of events in the homes that led to changes in peda­gog­ical methods and new arrivals (and thus new conflicts). The Nazi occu­pa­tion of France led to the children’s displace­ment to the Southern zone, their dispersal into new homes, and the recon­fig­u­ra­tion of their networks. This analysis of children’s contem­po­ra­neous sources and the condi­tions under which they were produced places new emphasis on the epis­te­mology of Kinder­trans­port sources and thus contributes to larger theo­ret­ical discus­sions in Holo­caust and Child­hood studies on children’s testimony.

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