French Boys Clothes: Displaced Children

Figure 1.--.

A topic that a French reader suggests should be considered is displaced children ("enfants déplacés"). This was a problen throughout Europe, but the problen varied from country to country. France was involved in three wars with Germany from 1870-1945. The problem seems most acute in World War I (1914-18), but there were displaced choldren in all three wars.

Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)

No infornmation currently available. The impact was surely less severe on children because it lasted for a shorter period and some of the more distructive miodern weapons were not yet deployed.

World War I (1914-18)

Although France in the end emerged victorious from World War I, the impact on children may have more severe than World War II when the Germans defeated France and occupied the country in a short campaign. The fighting on the Western Front in World War I was confined to northern France and Belgium, but it lasted over 4 years and in large areas there was almost total destruction. In addition, staggering numbers of French soldiers were killed, leaving many children with only one parent--in some cases none. Orphanages were expanded to care for these children, although many were cared for my extended families. The problem in neoghboring Belgium was much worse. Many Belgian children were cared for in French orphanages. Very large numbers of children in northern France were orphaned. They were called "Pupilles de la Nation ". It is difficult for modern readers to realize the enormity of the problem.

World War II (1939-45)

In France during World War II and the immediate post-war (baby-boom era), a lot of children left their families in Paris and other cities. They left the city to move in with family or family friends in the country. Some children were cared for in orphanages. The topic does not to be adequately analized. The children were often raised by relative and sometimes did not return to their families for several years. They were thus sometimes raised differently than had they stayed in their parent's home. It often meant that the clothes and education were those of their grandparents. Many children left for only some months other were away for years. Some never returned home. For a child, even a short period seemed like a major part of his life. Some children were anxious to return home. Other children were not happy to come home at all. Sometimes the relatives did not want for the children to return home.Those children who lost their Parents were called "Les pupilles de la nation" (pupils of the nation) and were looked after as much as possible after the War. The French Government grant many adventages for their current life and career. Despite all the assistance, those children were traumatized. A classic movie telling one of these cases Les jeux interdits. Virtually every French person has seen this film and the music is known through the world. A French reader tells HBC that it is not possible to see this picture without some emotion.

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December 17, 2001
Last updated: December 22, 2001