Tag Archive: Second World War

In this film, Principal Investigator Laura King (University of Leeds) discusses the upcoming workshop on 3 September 2015 at King’s College London, which will consider how and why children have been represented and mobilised for political purposes, past and present. It will bring together historians, campaigners and policy makers. Find out more, have a look at the programme and book now.

By Laura King, Principal Investigator, School of History, University of Leeds

‘Have mothers and parenthood been sufficiently recognised in their contribution towards the community? More attention should be paid to this question of the future generation as well as under what conditions children are to be brought into the world and reared. Otherwise, in a few years’ time the part which the British race will be taking in the future will be a dwindling part because we shall be a dwindling race.’

In 1942, MP and feminist campaigner Eleanor Rathbone addressed the House of Commons with these words, as it debated the question of woman-power during the Second World War. She highlighted the importance of children as future citizens and their role in ensuring the success of the British nation, race and empire in the future. And in this, she argued for a better recognition of women’s role in helping ensure the success of that future generation.

Evacuees in Britain during the Second World War

This example demonstrates some of the key themes of the ‘Agents of Future Promise’ project, and some issues to be discussed in our 3rd September workshop. Using historical research, we’re examining how children have been used to represent the future in the past. Does this matter at all today?

We think it does. Our research is opening up at least three important questions about children and the future. These are as relevant today as they were a hundred or fifty years ago, and these are important issues for those who work with or for children.

Firstly, if children are the future, can this help campaign groups mobilise support and funding to tackle child poverty, ensure better education programmes, attract resources for improving child health? Does it mean that children and young people themselves can use this idea in their own lobbying – if children are the future, shouldn’t they have a say in contemporary politics?

Secondly, if boys and girls are future citizens, are we moulding them into particular stereotypical gendered roles? Does this put too great an emphasis on girls’ roles as future mothers, and boys’ duty as future workers or soldiers – to protect the future of the nation?

Thirdly, does using children to represent ideas of the future for the interest of a political grouping actually harm children in some way? By using children’s potential and innocence to represent a political ideology, do we encourage the idea that children can be used for someone else’s ends?

The use of children to represent the future is an important and present concern – a potential benefit and burden for young people.

On 3 September 2015, our workshop at King’s College London will bring together NGO expertise and new historical and archaeological research to investigate the representation of children and its consequences.

Short presentations by historians, civil society practitioners and policy makers will be followed by small group discussions to reflect on historical research and contemporary policy and practice. The workshop is aimed at researchers, NGOs, policy makers and others working with and for children.

By taking part in this event, participants can:

  • Understand how and why children were mobilised and portrayed in the past for various reasons
  • Reflect on the implications of this history for policy and practice today
  • Share expert knowledge about children’s agency in their portrayals and mobilisation, past and present
  • Understand the policies and practices of NGOs working with and for children, past and present
  • Learn about how historical research can inform contemporary practices

Find out more by looking at the workshop programme.

Booking is now open through the King’s e-store. We have some travel bursaries available for those working in non-profit organisations, and students – email Laura King for more information.

Dodd picture (118x150)By Lindsey Dodd, Project Co-Investigator, School of Music, Humanities and Media, University of Huddersfield

‘Before we get [children] used to being thin, we have to show them that it’s not shameful to be poor’, came an instruction to the press from the Vichy government. Children in wartime France had to learn to deny themselves, to emulate the self-sacrifice of Marshal Pétain who ‘gave himself’ to France, and to see the benefit that each little cog brought to the bigger machine. There was a recognition that children were suffering. Resigning those in need to their lot, but also encouraging them to help others was the surest way to get the most out of children’s enthusiasm and energetic compassion. By focusing on poverty, hardship and rigour, children could be inspired to work harder and find satisfaction in the idea of helping their young neighbours. The irony, of course, was that many children being set up as agents of charity were themselves in need of that charity.

Children attend a gala in Paris financed by the money collected by other children, May 1941

Children’s charitable fundraising on behalf of other children is an important aspect of their politicised activity in Vichy France. In spring 1941, children over 12 years old were drafted into a mass campaign to sell badges worth 50 centimes each in the streets. Each child was given 100 badges, and across the department of the Seine there were 20,000 sellers. These youngsters approached their task with enthusiasm and competed with each other to see who could sell the most. The profits went directly to other children: they paid for grand theatrical performances for children from the most hard-hit sections of society – those who had been bombed out or made refugees, or whose parents were either prisoners or unemployed. 120,000 seats were available at the galas which took place across the Paris region, and impoverished children enjoyed the antics of clowns, magicians, contortionists … and of Babylas and his amazing performing geese.

The performer Babylas and his performing geese

In 1942, a new Christmas campaign was begun whereby the under-15s were to earn 2 francs and send them through to Marshal Pétain in favour of needy children. ‘We’ll give the under-15s the chance to make a real contribution on behalf of others and let them show their love for Marshal Pétain. It is, after all, among the very youngest that this love retains the most purity’, wrote the Youth Section of the Propaganda Ministry. Never missing an opportunity to use children to embed the regime more firmly into French society, the propagandists also saw the fundraising potential of harnessing children’s love for Pétain which they so assiduously cultivated.

While the official line stated that children should work hard for what they collected, many charitable endeavours clearly gave great deal of pleasure as well as the happy glow of altruism. A letter arrived in Vichy from 9 little children on holiday together with their families in the mountains, who had put on a little play and collected 255 francs. Another group had performed Molière’s Les Précieuses ridicules, inviting friends and family, and raised a whopping 1720 francs. 12-year-old Guy put on a Guignol (Punch and Judy) show with two friends; they were sending 50 francs, half of the sum they had raised, ‘to save some little children in our great and beautiful France’. The other half would be reinvested in their puppet theatre in the hope of raising more next time. For those who could afford Punch and Judy theatres or mountain holidays, money was not short. The amounts they sent spoke of comfortable lives.

Other donations were more modest. Paulette sent ‘10 francs from my piggy bank’, while Suzanne enclosed within her letter to Pétain ‘the small sum of 10 francs which I got today for my 8th birthday, to help some poor little children’. Raymonde sent a bit less, regretting that ‘5 francs isn’t very much these days [but perhaps] a poor child would be happy to buy 5 francs worth of bread’. A 6-year-old donated a doll’s cradle, but asked that, in return, the recipient say ‘a prayer for my Daddy who is a prisoner in Germany’.

Jumping forward into our present times, children continue to take part fundraising for other children in so many ways. The long-running British children’s TV show Blue Peter was my own first encounter with charitable giving during the 1980s. Its annual appeals sought to highlight the plight of children elsewhere, and engage British children with helping them. As a little girl, it opened my eyes to children’s poverty across the world – although how much, I wonder, could I really understand that hardship? The BBC’s ongoing Children in Need appeal inspires enormous participation from children in its fundraising activities, which they take on with great gusto. Save the Children is currently running the Den Day campaign in which children are asked to build a ‘den’ and camp out in it overnight. Their sponsorship money will provide food, shelter and healthcare, protection and education for children across the world. Charitable fundraising is one of the ways in which children actively participate in society. This kind of ‘instrumentalisation’ or use of children, then, can certainly have laudable aims, and children raise huge sums of money for important causes.

But, returning to the historical past, my Vichy case study clearly illustrates the vast gap between the haves and have-nots. Such charity was inspired by inequality and depended too upon it. And, more seriously, a regime which sent 11,400 Jewish children to the death camps had evidently decided which children deserved the help that its charity could bring and which – very starkly – did not.

Read other posts about Agents of Future Promise.

Join us on Twitter using the project hashtag #children2015 – we’d love to hear from you.

s200_laura.king

A 1945 election advertisement for the Labour Party, illustrating their appeal to the future through children

A 1945 election advertisement for the Labour Party, illustrating their appeal to the future through children

By Laura King, Project Principal Investigator, School of History, University of Leeds

In my research into Britain during and after the Second World War, I have already come across a number of different reasons why children are used to represent visions of the future. Children are used for political, commercial and more generally ‘rhetorical’ purposes within popular culture:

  • Political: as illustrated in my last post, politicians often used an image of children in the future to help illustrate their actions and decisions in the present. Suggesting that their political stance or policies were going to benefit currently innocent and vulnerable children in their future adult state was an effective tool for persuading voters their intentions were good. Especially during wartime, politicians and military leaders from Britain and elsewhere used this tactic to suggest they were acting for the right ideological intentions. For example, in 1948, an article in The Times reported a speech from the President of France, Vincent Auriol, discussing progress made in implementing the Monnet Plan, which outlined plans for France’s reconstruction after the war. He argued that the nation must push for rapid recovery, through his suggestion that ‘There is no middle way between swift decadence and rapid recovery. We of to-day hold in our hands the fate of our children and of our country for many generations to come.’ Here, the President underlined the gravity of the situation through a reminder of his and the nation’s responsibility for its future generations.
  • Commercial: advertisers also often used descriptions and images of innocent and vulnerable children, and referred to their potential futures, as a way of selling their particular product or service. Appealing to parents in this way seemed to be an effective technique, as it was widely used in this period in newspaper advertising. For example, an advert for Stork margarine published in the Daily Mail in 1942 appealed to potential consumers by reiterating that good nutrition for small children was crucial. They offered a cookery leaflet to guide mothers that was ‘all about food for these future citizens’. In a slightly different vein, charities also appealed to potential donors to help secure the prosperous and happy future of the country by helping to care for deprived British children in the present. For example, the Waifs and Strays Society appealed for donations in 1943 by telling potential donors ‘Remember! Children are the Nation’s Greatest Asset for the Future’.
  • Rhetorical: Finally, some uses of children to represent the future were about helping to make a particular argument, in letters or opinion pieces in newspapers for example. Appealing to the need to help children in the present and therefore adults and the country as a whole in the future was a fairly uncontroversial motivation, and therefore could help make the case for a whole range of different, and often controversial ideas, from eugenic policies to changing the education system. For example, the Daily Mirror published a letter from a Mr R.F. Andrews in 1942, on the topic of women’s war work. The letter writer suggested that mothers’ contribution was too often undervalued, supporting his argument by reminding readers that ‘Little is said in tributes to women’s war work of the mothers tending to the future generation often, I know, going without much of their own rations to ensure that the children are fed and made fit in body and mind to inherit the better world of tomorrow.’ He called for greater recognition for women’s sacrifices.

Highlighting that children were agents of future promise could be very much for their own benefit. In appealing for potential donors, for example, children’s charities drew on a particular image of the children as future citizens and leaders in order to secure funding for children in need, from orphaned boys and girls to those with disabilities of some kind.

But some of the use of children to represent particular futures was clearly not about the children themselves. This way of thinking and talking about children seemed to increase in times of political change, such as elections and during the Second World War, perhaps suggesting this tactic was less about children’s welfare and more for the (political) ends of the adults using this argument. For example, the Daily Mirror reiterated this tactic several times through an editorial on the election in May 1945, reminding voters of the importance of voting because ‘the future of your children is at stake’. The purpose of this article was to encourage readers to vote, and to cast their vote for the Labour party.

As we move into full campaigning for the upcoming election in May 2015, this is also apparent in contemporary political debates – and was effectively satirised by Pub Landlord Al Murray in his recent bid to stand against UKIP leader Nigel Farage. In Murray’s ‘election manifesto’, he noted that ‘I believe the children are the future and there’s no way you’ll get me knocking teachers. Teachers are on the front line, the coalface. Doing their bit to create a level playing field for our kids… although I’m not sure they’re going about it the right way by making sure none of the kids can read and write.’ Though light-hearted, like all effective satire, Murray underlines an essential truth about the use of children in election rhetoric.

At the heart of all of this is a tacit acceptance that children can be used for the motivations and benefits of others. Using a child’s image in an advert is not in itself inherently harmful – but our project is starting to question whether the use of children to represent future promise might contribute to a wider culture in which the exploitation of children occurs and in some instances is accepted. For me, there is a parallel with understandings of gender; as the Everyday Sexism project highlights, small instances of a particular way of thinking can lead to a wider culture in which discrimination, exploitation and inequality are accepted. Is this an over cautious approach to thinking about how children are used, or a legitimate concern about the welfare and wishes of children themselves?

Dodd picture (118x150)By Lindsey Dodd, Project Co-Investigator, School of Music, Humanities and Media, University of Huddersfield

Making use of children for the transmission of political and cultural ideologies within societies is long-standing and widespread. As Vicky Crewe has written in this blog, ideologies of gender roles and identity are transmitted through children’s toys and games. Not only serving social stability by embedding masculine and feminine roles in society, such toys and games also make money for their manufacturers. Laura King, also in this blog, has shown that Winston Churchill used ideas of children and the future to justify military and political action during World War Two. A lot was at stake; but was using the winsome and war-affected child to put pressure on adults a morally neutral act?

Our vision of childhood abhors the exploitation of children in ways that jeopardise their bodies – exploitation in labour, sexual exploitation – and an idea of children as innocent, dependent and fragile is widely accepted. But children are constantly being used commercially, culturally and politically: is this not a form of child exploitation too? How much control do children have over how images of children or ideas of children are used, given that their agency in society is usually denied? This ‘Agents of Future Promise‘ AHRC Care for the Future research project will ask further questions about the morality of using children in these ways, drawing on historical examples to reflect upon current concerns.

Take children in wartime France. At Christmas 1940 a ‘Surprise for Marshal Pétain’ – head of the Vichy government since the summer of that year – was organised. Children were invited to draw a picture of ‘the little corner of France that [they] love the most’ and send it to him. He received two million drawings from children in the ‘Free Zone’ of France, the southern part which was not occupied by the Germans at the point. These pictures and the texts written on their backs were then used freely by the government to demonstrate children’s patriotic love for their country and their leader Marshal Pétain, and their desire to participate in the renewal of France – all three were highly politicised concepts.

A page of the 1942 edition of the widely-read Almanach Hachette showed four drawings and quoted from others in an article called ‘The Marshal and the Children of France’.

Four drawings by children were featured in the article 'The Marshal and the Children of France'

Four drawings by children were featured in the article ‘The Marshal and the Children of France’ (Almanach Hachette, 1942)

Marshal Petain, when he spoke to children on the radio, told them: ‘I have a particular affection and concern for you.’ He also said to each French person: ‘You must give me the faith of your heart and the faith of your reason.’ From the bottom of their hearts, children’s responses poured out. They understood straight away that the Marshal was truly the Father of the Patrie [fatherland]. ‘My dear Marshal Pétain, I’m writing to you to give you courage.’ Thus began a letter from Paul Morin, eight years old.

Did Paul Morin know his words would be used in this way? The article went further, with a metaphorical flight of fancy, asking the Almanach’s readers:

Can you see this little lad of eight years old, clinging onto the neck of the Great Old Man in whose arms lies injured France, whispering those words into his ear? Youth: it’s our only hope. His gesture proves that the France of tomorrow, inspired by instinct, understands that she cannot live except by putting her little hand into the Marshal’s to walk towards the future at his side.

Did Paul Morin know that, by sending a drawing to Marshal Pétain, he would be imagined into a metaphor which now conjured his body into the picture too? Giving his advice and counsel to the man who held the future of France in his hands and speaking on behalf of ‘the France of tomorrow’?

These extracts are interesting because they give us an idea first of Vichy’s image of the nature of the child – affectionate, simple, instinctive (like Pétain), knowing a truth that his parents had failed to grasp and therefore a more trustworthy kind of citizen. Second, they show that children were at the heart of Vichy’s project. Through numerous invitations to write and draw for Pétain, they were pulled directly into political propaganda. And third, they suggest an extended metaphor which likened France itself to a misguided, mistreated child, protected, cared for and led forwards by its father, Marshal Pétain.

While this example is drawn from a particular historical moment, the ideas that underpin it are more wide-reaching. How far is it appropriate to instrumentalise children for political, cultural and commercial purposes?

 

Read other posts about Agents of Future Promise.

Join us on Twitter using the project hashtag #children2015 – we’d love to hear from you.

s200_laura.kingBy Laura King, Project Principal Investigator, School of History, University of Leeds

Historians have described the Second World War as a ‘total war’ – as the economy was redirected towards the war effort and because almost everyone was directly affected by the war in one way or another. Men were conscripted into military service or could be held back in reserved occupations crucial to the war effort, whilst those too old or young to serve could join the Home Guard (or ‘Dad’s Army’). Women worked in a whole range of occupations – from 1941 they too were conscripted by the government, into war work in farming or industry, or into women’s military service organisations such as the WRNS (Women’s Royal Naval Service) and the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). And the stories and images of children evacuated out of the big cities from September 1939 into apparently safer rural areas dominate our memory of this conflict.

In explaining the reasons for continuing to fight, and trying to persuade British people about his vision for the country, Winston Churchill spoke about the future generation and their protection. He painted a picture of future generations who were fair and just. Churchill’s use of children might not have been quite so explicitly ideological and politically motivated as the efforts of Marshal Pétain in Vichy France at the same time, but nonetheless, the same kinds of thinking about children informed the way Churchill spoke about the war. In January 1941, outlining his war aims at an apparently impromptu speech in Glasgow, the Prime Minister concluded by describing the faith of the British people in the rightness of their struggle to help liberate countries occupied by enemy forces. This faith, he added, would

 carry us forward to a time when those countries which I have mentioned, who are now subjugated and trampled down, will bless the British name, and we shall be able to hand on to those in this island who come after us, to our children and grandchildren, a record of duty done which will not have been surpassed in all the rugged annals of our island home. (Daily Mail, 18 January 1941)

Some of this way of outlining the future was typical of the grandiose rhetoric of politicians like Churchill. But within these bold statements about passing on not only a safe and peaceful country, but also a history of fighting for justice, to future generations lies a much deeper relationship between children and ideas of Britishness and British values. During war, the connection between the actions of foreign governments and people at home becomes much more closely connected, and politicians, from a range of political backgrounds, used children to symbolise this and to attempt to mobilise the efforts of the British people in the war effort.

In a speech to the Senate and Commons in Canada at the end of 1941, described by the Daily Mail as ‘one of the most moving and magnificent speeches of his career’, Churchill ‘lashed at the Men of Vichy with the deep contempt of which he is supreme master’ and condemned the actions of the German, Italian and Japanese governments. He connected the actions of these governments with British people back home through the symbolic potential of children:

This is no time, according to my sense of proportion, to speak of the hopes of the future or of the brighter world. We have to win that world for our children. We have to win it by our sacrifices. We have not won it yet. The crisis is upon us. The power of the enemy is immense. We cannot for a moment afford to relax, but must drive forward with unrelenting zeal. In this strange, terrible world war, there is a place for everyone, man and woman, old and young, the hale and halt – service in a thousand forms is open. (Daily Mail, 31 December 1941)

Children, as an innocent and vulnerable future generation, provide a way for politicians to connect the military and political actions of their government and the nation as a whole to the people of that nation. In directly linking the fight against foreign enemies to the children at home, Churchill underlined the service of British people in the war effort as crucial and sacrifice as necessary.

The language of home and family has dominated descriptions and metaphors about Britain and Britishness – think of the home front, the Home Guard, and the gendering of the nation as a ‘motherland’ or simply ‘she’. Children figure strongly within this, and using the family as a metaphor for a national struggle to protect its children made everyone responsible for that fight. Churchill’s words reminded citizens that it was not just delivering a peaceful future to Britain’s children that was important, but the knowledge that everyone had done their duty to achieve this too.

Dodd picture (118x150)By Lindsey Dodd, Project Co-Investigator, School of Music, Humanities and Media, University of Huddersfield

The conservative, authoritarian Vichy government, headed by the octogenarian Marshal Pétain, saw in the defeat of France in 1940 an opportunity for national regeneration. Under the slogan ‘Work, Family, Fatherland’, it pumped out propaganda in pursuit of its goals. Children were explicitly targeted. They were to become the carriers of the regime’s ideologies which would prolong its existence and embed the ideals of the National Revolution. Leadership, national unity and population increase were high on the agenda.

Pre-adolescent children were singled out by Pétain as a special concern. He addressed them in a speech in October 1941:

You need to know that I am counting on you absolutely to help me reconstruct France, to make the French a great people, loyal and honest. And I do not want to wait until you’ve become grown-ups to ask you to do it.

Children’s value was in the future loyal population that they would become, and their love and support for Pétain now, as children, would cement this.

But their role in the National Revolution extended beyond that. They were asked by the government to participate in charitable and fundraising initiatives, always in Pétain’s name. While raising money for needy sections of the population was vital, it also served the regime, which was desperately trying to unite a nation divided by the German occupation as well as by ideals, economics and persecution. The Ministry of Information’s Youth Section explained its aims for Christmas 1942:

We will give the under 15s an opportunity to act in favour of others and thus allow them to show their love for the Maréchal. It is, of course, among the very youngest that this love maintains most of its purity. It is possible that a demonstration of this feeling could have an important influence inside families and even on the country as a whole. This would be an example of solidarity in action which would be easy to use in more general propaganda at Christmas time.

It seems from the thousands of letters and the millions of francs raised by children that they threw themselves wholeheartedly into this activity, wittingly or unwittingly propagating the regime’s ideologies. The sincerity of some letters is touching, as children donated their birthday money or their meagre savings to try to heal the wounds created by war and division.

‘A good peasant family’ – photograph in propaganda magazine l’Espoir Français (1943/4)

Not just the objects of the regime’s propaganda, children were also its subjects. The mass of children often photographed surrounding Pétain on his walkabouts represented the population increase so central to the regime’s family policy as well as loyalty to the chef or leader. Other images of children were aimed at potential – or existing – mothers and fathers to inspire them to grow their families and to devote themselves to building the next generation. ‘If you don’t have children, who knows? You could be denying the world of another Pascal, a Pasteur, a Lyautey, through your own selfishness,’ one Mother’s Day leaflet commented.

A different set of images of children were reflected back at children, as on the cover of Paluel-Marmont’s Winter Aid 1941 edition of his book Il était une fois un Maréchal de France (Once upon a time there was a Marshal of France), shown above. Here are pictures of children, in propaganda for children, encouraging children to raise money for children.

This case study provides clear examples of the way that children are used as vehicles for political ideologies, as the objects and subjects of propaganda, and their responses to it. They are mobilised because of their vulnerability and because of their potentiality, two qualities which continue to define our view of children in society today. There is a danger that in focusing on these qualities to the exclusion of others, we risk undermining the reality of childhoods lived. Children do embody a future potential, but to concentrate on that at the expense of their here-and-now existence, or to use that potential to shape and reshape society on ideological grounds, is a concern. And children are, of course, vulnerable, but to exploit that vulnerability for commercial or political gain is deplorable, if sadly common.

 

Notes and further reading

Read Marshal Pétain’s speech to French schoolchildren of 13 October 1941.

Extracts from Ministry of Information and Mother’s Day leaflet taken from the Archives Nationales, F41/293 and 19760145/145

 

Join us on Twitter using the project hashtag #children2015 – we’d love to hear from you.

You can find out more about the project by reading other posts about Agents of Future Promise

Dodd picture (118x150)By Lindsey Dodd, Project Co-Investigator, School of Music, Humanities and Media, University of Huddersfield

Rapidly defeated in 1940 by the German army, France was divided and occupied by its conquerors until its liberation in 1944. The new French government was presided over by the authoritarian Marshal Pétain, much-loved hero of the Great War, around whom developed a cult of personality. Named after the spa town of Vichy where it sat, this government began to enact what became known as the National Revolution: a conservative project for French regeneration.

I for Image

From the Abécédaire du Maréchal Pétain (Bureau de documentation du Chef d’Etat, 1943), author’s collection

French children were the subjects and objects of the Vichy government’s propaganda, and the regime actively sought their participation in its policies. How did they respond?

Oh, how he helps us! Oh! Victor of two wars, great comfort of France, I hope you live for many years to come and help the French people who have loved you so much. Yes, I love Monsieur le Maréchal Pétain very much. I love him because he saved us, because he deserves to be loved. And he will be loved until the end by the French people who would give their lives for Maréchal Pétain.

So wrote a 12 year old French girl in an essay about the head of the French State in 1941. This outpouring of affection should be seen as more than a mechanical parroting of the party line. Her work forms part of a body of children’s essays and letters which show us some of their responses to the Vichy regime. Essay-writing was obviously coordinated by adults, as was much letter writing; but many children wrote often and spontaneously to a man they were led to regard as a father or grandfather.

My case study in the ‘Agents of Future Promise’ project examines the way that the Vichy regime used children as the objects and subjects of its propaganda. For, as Judith Proud wrote, ‘the importance of the child as propaganda target and ideological icon is fundamental’. The two dimensions are worth exploring. Officials assumed that children would act in response to the its propaganda, that they had agency and could act to alter their behaviour and environment.

This highlights a number of issues relating to the way adults manipulate children for ideological purposes, and raises three key questions: how images of children are used, how the idea of what ‘a child’ is gets mobilised, and how children as real people – rather than images or ideas – are manipulated. While the Vichy regime had very particular (authoritarian, exclusionary, traditionalist, Catholic, pronatalist) characteristics, it provides a clear example of the process of instrumentalisation which is recognisable in other contexts, and not just in the past.

Read other posts about Agents of Future Promise.

Join us on Twitter using the project hashtag #children2015 – we’d love to hear from you.

Notes and further reading:

Extract from 12 year old girl’s essay about Marshal Pétain (2 Dec. 1941) taken from Archives Nationales, F/41/269.

W. D. Halls, The Youth of Vichy France (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981. See pages 14 and 15 for his comments about the way that were ‘taken in’ by Pétainist propaganda as they were forced to write essays and letters that praised the leader and speak positively of his reforms.

J. Proud, Children and propaganda (Bristol: Intellect Books, 1995)