Children of the War

The drive for the collective propagated the Soviet image during World War II. In his article “Between Salvation and Liquidation,” Furst notes that images of crying, bedraggled children could be found between posters of heroic soldiers and dutiful citizens. The presence of street children and orphans was not to be blamed solely on their parents; the Soviet Union, as a collective, was at fault. Therefore, it was the duty of the Motherland as whole to find a solution. Thousands of prospective foster-parents flocked to orphanages, eager to play their part in vanquishing Germany. But were the children really better off with unqualified, duty-bound parents? There is no doubt that the vast majority was physically better off in their new homes; begging is not a consistent food source. However, most of these children carried psychological scars unimaginable to those untouched by war. They deserved a second chance, a fresh start with loving parents who could care for them unconditionally. Clearly, by the number of reports of both runaways and foster-children with “nervousness,” their psychological states were not being well looked after. So did families feel obligated to adopt children? Did they reluctantly take in little girls and boys into homes where they played second fiddle to biological children? Did the Soviet state’s efforts to encourage adoption help or hurt the waifs and orphans?