Histoire contemporaine du Luxembourg

Child Forced Labour. An Analysis of Ego Documents Thoughout Time

This article centralises a unique collection of ego documents created underCommunism in which Polish former child forced labourers articulate their warexperiences. A comparative analysis of them with recent testimonies reveals that theseego documents offer a more nuanced depiction of Germans and display richerinformation on the specific working conditions and daily routine for children than thecontemporary ones. A comparative reading of the archival testimonies with theirpublished equivalents shows how the streamlining of a publicly acceptable version ofthe past under Communism went both ways, that is, at times foregrounding thepropaganda content of autobiographical wordings, but also at other momentsdownplaying this element. The collection increases our understanding of child forcedlabour experiences during the Second World War, specifically the ways in whichchildren perceived that experience, and offers insights into the negotiated appropriationof Communist ideology at the individual level.

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