Cover: The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe’s Families after World War II, from Harvard University PressCover: The Lost Children in PAPERBACK

The Lost Children

Reconstructing Europe’s Families after World War II

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$22.00 • £17.95 • €20.00

ISBN 9780674425064

Publication Date: 03/23/2015


320 pages


[A] fascinating book… Tara Zahra, a historian who made her name writing about the ambiguities of nationality in Czechoslovakia, has now added an important contribution to the growing literature on Europe’s reconstruction after World War II… Zahra is especially good at tracing the connections between pedagogic theories and nationalist politics, and her rich source basis allows her to demonstrate the ubiquity of the problem.—Mark Mazower, The New Republic online

[A] superb book… [A] wide-ranging, exceptionally well-researched study.—Adam Kirsch, Tablet Magazine

Zahra’s research examines the difficulties inherent in attempting to mend the social dislocation caused by war… Zahra’s work is insightful in considering what treatment of lost children can tell us about broader developments in the post-war period, both in terms of how nations interacted with each other and how psychologists understood the impact of war on children.—Hester Vaizey, Times Higher Education

Zahra’s book contributes significantly to understanding postwar childhood and refugee history in central Europe. The book’s merit lies not only in portraying the very real welfare issues regarding thousands of stateless, expelled, and otherwise lost children in this region, but also in showing how those issues became vectors for other early postwar issues… This work has resonance beyond central Europe; historians for the Balkans or the USSR, for example, will find Zahra’s insights and approaches highly useful. Scholars and students of postwar Europe more generally will appreciate the extra depth she brings to an understanding of humanitarian issues in these years.—R. Spickermann, Choice

In this impressive multinational study, Zahra charts the history of humanitarian relief from the 1915 Armenian genocide to the postwar era, in the process demonstrating how the institutions of the family became politicized, whereby governments across Europe after 1945 began concerning themselves with promoting the family unit. Zahra demonstrates the impact of pre-1939 humanitarian campaigns on wartime thought.—Frederic Krome, Library Journal

Innovative and compelling, Zahra’s book brilliantly challenges our understandings of trauma, relief, and rehabilitation, carefully elucidating the competing and highly ideologized claims on children by family and nation after a war that had devastated both.—Atina Grossmann, author of Jews, Germans, and Allies

Beautifully written and exhaustively researched, The Lost Children makes the story of family reconstruction central to the history of social and political reconstruction in the years following the end of the Second World War.—Robert Moeller, University of California, Irvine

Across a European landscape shattered by the death and displacement of World War II and the Holocaust, an extraordinary humanitarian agenda crystallized: saving the children. Tara Zahra’s elegantly written history brilliantly reconstructs the moment, offering a breakthrough example of the new transnational European history.—Samuel Moyn, author of The Last Utopia

Zahra deftly draws important lessons about conceptions of childhood and nationality from the ways international organizations, individual countries, and families themselves sought to rebuild shattered lives. An essential contribution to our understanding of a refashioned postwar world.—Norman Naimark, author of Stalin’s Genocides

A fascinating, important, and highly original book which considers the implications and consequences of World War II for children.—Larry Wolff, author of Inventing Eastern Europe

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