Lost Children in Post War Europe

In Lost Children : Reconstructing Europe’s Families after World War II,┬áTara Zahra explains the changes in attitudes towards the rehabilitation of children in Europe after the two major world wars. Millions of children were displaced as a result of the Armenian Genocide, World War I, and the Mexican Revolution, and World War II. In order to combat the mass orphanage, organizations such as the ARA (American Relief Association) and the IRO (International Refugee Organization) were created to feed, house, psychologically rehabilitate, and provide welfare to the displaced, wandering new “wolf children” of Europe. (4)

The welfare systems that were implemented to save children in Lost Children: Recontructing Europe’s Families after World War II revolved around psychological rehabilitation. According to Zahra, the social workers worked in the “best interest of the child, rather than any particular agenda”. (17) There is a stark contrast between the European post war welfare system than the one in an industrializing Russia, which was described by Hoffman as “a set of reciprocal obligations between the state and its citizens, rather than as a means to protect the dignity of the individuals”. (Hoffman, 19)

While programs such as the ARA and the IRO sought to bring stability to the individual emotionally and provide them with proper homes to rebuild European family life, the Russian welfare system was to serve as a catalyst for industrialization to catapult the nation into a modern era.