SUFFER THE CHILDREN:GROWING UP IN ITALY DURING WORLD WAR II

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Share this page Print this page Please consider the environment before printing. Interest in how non-combatants experienced the First World War has grown substantially in the last 30 years. Children were particularly impacted by the war through disruption to home life and to schooling, absent parents, and deaths of family and family friends.

While such experiences were common on the Home Front, children often struggled to understand the reasons behind these events, and the impact upon them was sustained in different, and often more emotional, ways. Children and the War - a book for young people A book of patriotic readings addressed to school children, published in in Italy. Usage terms Public Domain. Perceptions challenged The figure of the child is one that challenges popular perceptions of the war.

The returning soldier - Poem by an 11 year old schoolgirl Poem written by an year-old school girl about a returning soldier walking through Vienna. Such material can help us to explore questions of how understandings of the figure of the child are tied up in the shifting positions of adulthood in war, as well as how representations of the child were complicit in restructuring attitudes towards war.

The material held in these collections demonstrates that children did not keep diaries in the same way as adults, or that this material has not survived — where we can trace the impact of war on children, however, is primarily in schoolwork and in drawings.


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While many letters were deferential to the British Empire as economic provider, others revealed an awareness of soaring rates of wartime inflation in India, with ordinary people being priced out of food and essential items. Everything has gone high in price in our homeland. They have written that no cloth is available for less than one rupee per yard. We being earning [sic] can pull on somehow or other but the poor have to suffer much.

But what can be done? What power have we got to do anything. More than 3m people died in the man-made Bengal Famine of , through a combination of starvation and the associated diseases of cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery. The famine could have been prevented had large-scale exports of food from India not been sent to war theatres and had aid arrived in time. The Indian Legion in Germany and the Indian National Army in Japanese-controlled East Asia, formed from prisoners-of-war belonging to the imperial Indian Army and expatriate Indian communities, were persuaded to fight against the British to secure independence.

They lost the war, but were hailed by the Indian public as heroes.

Rebuilding the world after the second world war

Current UK commemorations do not capture this complexity or encourage us to think critically about established narratives about war. In India, official remembrance for World War II remains a controversial subject, as it is a reminder of the colonial past, although efforts are being made to change this lack of public commemoration.

In my interviews with survivors and their family members in India, I have found that many have kept remembering the war in private, through old uniforms, battlefield objects, dusty photographs and conversation. Among the western powers, the United States, by very much the dominant partner in the alliance, took the lead. In his Four Freedoms speech of January , President Roosevelt talked of a new and more just world, with freedom of speech and expression and of religion, and freedom from want and fear. In the Atlantic charter later that year, he and Churchill sketched out a world order based on such liberal principles as collective security, national self-determination, and free trade among nations.

A host of other allies, some of them represented by governments in exile, signed on. The Soviet Union gave a qualified assent, although its leader Stalin had no intention of following what were to him alien principles. Roosevelt intended that the American vision should take solid institutional form.

Children during the Holocaust | The Holocaust Encyclopedia

This time, Roosevelt was determined, the United States should join. The idea that there were universal standards to be upheld was present, no matter how imperfectly, in the war crimes trials, and was later reinforced by the establishment of the United Nations itself in , the International Court of Justice in and Universal Declaration of Human Rights of Stalin was interested above all in security for his regime and for the Soviet Union, and that to him meant taking territory, from Poland and other neighbours, and establishing a ring of buffer states around Soviet borders.

The grand alliance held together uneasily for the first months of the peace, but the strains were evident in their shared occupation of Germany, where increasingly the Soviet zone of occupation was moving in a communist direction and the western zones, under Britain, France and the United States, in a more capitalist and democratic one. By , two very different German societies were emerging. In addition, the western powers watched with growing consternation and alarm the elimination of non-communist political forces in eastern Europe and the establishment of Peoples' Republics under the thumb of the Soviet Union.

Soviet pressure on its neighbours, from Norway in the north to Turkey and Iran in the south, along with Soviet spy rings and Soviet-inspired sabotage in western countries, further deepened western concerns. For their part, Soviet leaders looked on western talk of such democratic procedures as free elections in eastern Europe as Trojan horses designed to undermine their control of their buffer states, and regarded the Marshall plan, which funnelled American aid into Europe, as a cover for extending the grip of capitalism.

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Furthermore, their own Marxist-Leninist analysis of history told them that sooner or later the capitalist powers would turn on the Soviet Union. Within two years of second world war's end, the cold war was an established fact. Both sides built military alliances and prepared for the new shooting war that many feared was bound to come.

In , the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb, giving it parity, at least in that area, with the United States. That the cold war did not in the end turn into a hot one was thanks to that fact. The terrifying new power of atomic weapons was to lead to a standoff suitably known as Mad — Mutually Assured Destruction. The cold war overshadowed another momentous international change that came as a result of the second world war. Before much of the non-European world had been divided up among the great empires: the ones based in western Europe but also those of Japan and the Soviet Union.

Japan and Italy lost their empires as a result of defeat. Britain, France, and the Netherlands all saw their imperial possessions disappear in the years immediately after the war. The Soviet Union was not to lose its until the end of the cold war. The former imperial powers no longer had the financial and military capacity to hang on to their vast territories.

Italy and the road to war

Nor did their peoples want to pay the price of empire, whether in money or blood. Furthermore, where the empires had once dealt with divided or acquiescent peoples, they now increasingly faced assertive and, in some cases, well-armed nationalist movements. The defeat of European forces all over Asia also contributed to destroying the myth of European power.

The Europeans' African empires crumbled in the s and early s. The United Nations grew from 51 nations in to by the end of the century. Because of the cold war, there was no comprehensive peace settlement after the second world war as there had been in Instead there were a number of separate agreements or ad hoc decisions. The Soviet Union seized back some bits of territory such as Bessarabia, which it had lost to Romania in The one major exception was Poland, as the joke had it "a country on wheels", which moved some miles to the west, losing some 69, sq metres to the Soviet Union and gaining slightly less from Germany in the west.

In the east, Japan of course lost the conquests it had made since , but was also obliged to disgorge Korea and Formosa now Taiwan and the Pacific islands that it had gained decades earlier. Eventually the United States and Japan concluded a formal peace in Because of an outstanding dispute over some islands, the Soviet Union and its successor Russia have not yet signed a peace treaty ending the war with Japan. We have long since absorbed and dealt with the physical consequences of the second world war, but it still remains a very powerful set of memories.

How societies remember and commemorate the past often says something about how they see themselves — and can be highly contentious. Particularly in divided societies, it is tempting to cling to comforting myths to help bring unity and to paper over deep and painful divisions. In the years immediately after , many societies chose to forget the war or remember it only in certain ways.


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Austria portrayed itself as the first victim of Nazism, conveniently ignoring the active support that so many Austrians had given the Nazi regime. In Italy, the fascist past was neglected in favour of the earlier periods of Italian history.

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For a long time, schools did not teach any history after the first world war. Italians were portrayed in films or books as essentially good-hearted and generally opposed to Mussolini, whose regime was an aberration in an otherwise liberal state. In France, the Vichy period, after France's defeat by Germany, when there was widespread French collaboration, some of it enthusiastically antisemitic and pro-Nazi, was similarly ignored.