War Childhoods in Occupied Belarus (1941-1944): Experiences, Consequences, Remembrances

Employees (IfZ):  Dr. Yuliya von Saal

The project is planned as an actor-oriented investigation of the “childhoods” of Soviet children within the context of the German-Soviet War and its immediate consequences during the late Stalinist period. The study’s focuses include establishing an empirical definition for the political and social structures of “childhood” under German occupation, looking in detail into the children’s war-specific areas of experience, and epistemologically expanding on the concept of “war children”. It will delve into the scope and limits of action of minors within the period of time and social spaces in question, alongside the consequences of the war for the generation of war children, as well as the Soviet concept of “childhood”, touching on the historicization of children’s war experiences in Belarus’ official culture of remembrance.

Methodologically speaking, the project seizes on the dynamic concept of the child as a social actor (agency), as established in the “new” sociology of childhood, along with the concept of “generational order”. Following these interactive approaches, children are understood as social actors with their own capabilities, resources, and abilities to cope, and who are involved in their own development, in their “childhoods”, and in the creation of the generational order.

The study centers in particular on the war-specific “social microsystems” outside of intact family structures: The experiential spaces of the ghettos, institutional children’s homes, partisan units, and camps (“children’s villages”).

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