Children and the Aftermath of War

By Mazower, Mark | History Today, June 1996 | Go to article overview

Children and the Aftermath of War

Mazower, Mark, History Today

* What happens when wars end? Historians have written endlessly on wars' origins, far less on their aftermath. We seem happy to explode myths and deconstruct images, yet strangely indifferent to the very real social and psychological problems that wars leave behind them. As the conflict in Bosnia gives way to an uneasy peace, the question of how people rebuild their lives and communities assumes new urgency. Have historians nothing to contribute here? Fifty years ago, as in Bosnia now, the ending of war left society confronting bitter conflicts over property, issues of violence and justice, separation and loss. A conference at the University of Sussex this July, After the War was Over, will bring together historians anthropologists, psychiatrists and lawyers, as well as former partisans, journalists and relief workers, to discuss these issues.

Among the topics we will address is the impact of war on children. UNICEF estimates that more than half the children in Sarajevo were shot at during the war, while in Mostar nearly three-quarters had their homes attacked and over half had a parent wounded or killed. Half a century ago, during the last great European civil war -- in Greece between 1946 and 1949 -- children were also among the main victims. Many had suffered bereavement during the Nazi Occupation. Their plight increased as fighting between the government and the Left flared up in 1946.

After Liberation, the number of orphans in Greece grew rapidly to nearly half-a-million, with children roaming the streets scavenging for food. Some sold lottery tickets or became boot-blacks or thieves. Nancy Crawshaw, a British freelance photo-journalist who travelled through the country between 1946 and 1949, met those at the bottom of the heap, street urchins like Haralambos P. His father had died during the terrible famine of 1941-42, his mother had followed in 1946. He lived rough in central Athens, sleeping out in all weathers, begging for scraps from the soldiers outside a military camp.

The most unfortunate ones, like P., could not get into the state orphanages, because you needed political influence to be admitted. Nor could he enter one of the fifty Child Towns, founded by Queen Frederika, because his plight had nothing to do with the guerilla war. These Child Towns were a well-publicised attempt to win back the nation's youth from Communism: attracting charitable donations from the Athens elite, they were highly-funded and efficient. But they were, if anything, over-resourced. They could house only some 18,000 children, barely four per cent of those orphans in need. Inside the state orphanages, conditions were harsher and facilities were poor; often life was little better for the young inmates than in the slum encampments that ringed the urban centres.

Foreign charities also played a prominent part in looking after war-affected children. The British Quaker Relief set up a training school for country girls outside Salonika in the autumn of 1945. Housed initially in two wooden huts left behind by the Germans, the school was run by a British couple and five Greek teachers who gave their teenage charges a thorough training in domestic science, first aid and child welfare. The pupils were hand-picked, in order to select potential leaders who might return to their villages and help transform traditional ways. This modernising impetus was only partially successful, as many girls wanted to stay in the cities. But the goal of improving social conditions was linked to politics, for the school's organisers believed that one reason why so many village women supported the guerrillas was that they saw the armed struggle as an escape from `peasant solitude' and `confused the brandishing of a step-gun with emancipation'. Within the school, no political discussion was permitted; as a result, `girls from rival sectors of each village live and work happily together in a Quaker atmosphere of reconciliation'. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Children and the Aftermath of War


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.