Missing Children Publication Hub
Children in Migration
Organization: Central European History Society of the American Historical Association
Publisher: Central European History Society of the American Historical Association
Published In: 2015
Country: European Union
Missing, Lost, and Displaced Children in Postwar Germany: The Great Struggle to Provide for the War’s Youngest Victims
(by Michelle Mouton)
In the final months of World War II, more than a million German children took to the roads in search of family and home. Although the majority returned home with little institutional support, hundreds of thousands of other German children could not. Some were orphaned; others remained in camps, children’s homes, or foster families in areas that no longer belonged to Germany. Most challenging for authorities were those who were alone and too young to know their own names. This article explores the struggle to locate, identify, and provide for missing, lost, and displaced German children after 1945. It argues that despite a general agreement that children were in peril, Allied denazification policies and the decision by the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) not to help “enemy children” compromised care for children. The division of Germany and the onset of the Cold War further handicapped efforts to aid children by preventing the creation of a unified search service. Yet, despite the many postwar impediments, the effort to care for these children was remarkably successful in the end.
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