Saturday, September 22, 2018-
Children of World War I- Children were particularly impacted by the war through disruption to home life and to schooling, absent parents, and deaths of family and family friends. While such experiences were common on the Western Front, children often struggled to understand the reasons behind these events, and the impact upon them was sustained in different, and often more emotional, ways.
On Europe’s Western Front, French children were probably most affected by the war. Many lived near or in combat zones. Here, many French children experienced the sudden nature of war: Forced from their homes by invading German soldiers, facing rationing of food and clothing, suspension of school classes, limited supplies of coal and wood with which to say warm. For them, wrote Manon Pignot, a researcher at the Université de Picardie and Institut Universitaire de France, “it was a drastic upending of their universe, now marked by the near-daily sound of cannon fire.”
The large-scale conscription of married men and fathers who died in the fighting led to a great number of children orphaned by the war. Olivier Faron estimated that there were about 1,100,000 French orphans from the Great War.
Pignot wrote: “French children saw the men in their families depart: fathers and brothers, cousins and uncles, neighbors and teachers. These massive departures set the stage for an unusual display: tears shed in public, by both men and women. The upheaval of families was thus emotional.”
Some of the drawings from WWI also show just how much French children were surrounded by death. They also reflected renewed hopes for an end to the fighting when American troops joined the war in 1917. Several middle-school-age boys who attended a school in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris, created the drawings you see in this posting.
(Sources: 1914-1918 International Encyclopedia of the First World War, Société d’Histoire et d’Archéologie Le Vieux Montmartre, WorldWarOneColorPhotos.com)