Jun 282011
 

In The Lost Children, Tara Zahra tells the heartbreaking stories of child survivors of World War II, whose fate was often decided by ideological battles, policy debates, and lingering ethnic tensions

Young Jewish displaced persons in Naples, Italy, en route to Palestine, 1945.

At the end of World War II, several hundred teenage boys who had managed to survive Buchenwald were invited by the Frenchgovernment to recuperate at a group home near Paris. One evening, the Buchenwald boys, as they became known, were served Camembert cheese as a special treat for dessert. To the shock of the (Jewish) staff, the boys began hurling the Camembert at the walls: Unfamiliar with the runny, smelly cheese, they believed that they were being served poisoned food, or else rotten food that wasn’t good enough for ordinary children.

This incident, recounted by Tara Zahra in her superb new book The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe’s Families After World War II (Harvard), is almost comic. But it hints at the profound challenges that faced the social workers and psychologists who made it their mission to help the youngest victims of the war. With the best will in the world, how could you gain the trust of children who had spent their youth in a place like Buchenwald? Even the experts, Zahra shows, despaired of the task.

Source: The Tablet Magazine
Read the full article here: Lost And Found

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