This was a little like our evacuation. However, German children tended not to stay in individual homes. They would stay in camps and be looked after by youth leaders. Children who do not need to be evacuated were encouraged to go on holidays organised by the same people who organised the evacuation. This offered another opportunity for Nazi indoctrination. The German girls in the novel get involved in this sort of activity.
The Kinderlandverschickung existed before World War II. It had been a tradition to send young people to the countryside for recreational holidays. Even though the KLV sometimes requisitioned rooms in people’s homes, the children were brought together at the main camp for most of their meals and all of their entertainment.
During the Nazi time children were sent on mass during the Easter and summer holidays to camps. It made the Nazi government look good. Many films and photos show happy children enjoying the countryside and being waved off by parents what had put their trust in the camp leaders. What we don’t see is the homesickness and the indoctrination.
Camps were run by Nazi approved teachers and later Hitler Youth leaders. There was a lot of camaraderie and group work. However, the children would have missed their family life. It started off with the children, playing together, learning to help each other with daily chores and learning to trust each other. But they began to lose individuality, especially those who were evacuated on a longer term basis. They were seen as the future of Germany. Marching and singing patriotic and anti-Semitic songs became part of what they did.
2.8 million children were sent to the camps with separate camps for boys and girls.
Strength was recognised and the weak were ridiculed.The boys were prepared for the army, the girls for the three Ks – Kinder, Küche, Kirche – children, kitchen church.
If you had to be evacuated because of a war situation, would you prefer to live with your friends or within a family?
Which do you think is best for the child?
How might being evacuated affect your schooling and your family life?
What are the advantages of evacuation?
And the disadvantages?
Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?