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The IRO Children’s Village Bad Aibling. a refuge in the American Zone of Germany, 1948–1951
The IRO Children’s Village Bad Aibling. a refuge in the American Zone of Germany, 1948–1951
Based on a variety of source material and previous research, this microhistorical study represents the first comprehensive history of the IRO Children’s Village Bad Aibling. Established in late 1948, it was the central facility within the US Zone of Germany where unaccompanied children were cared for by the International Refugee Organization (IRO). Displaced during or after World War II, their fates were as varied as those of adults who had survived the atrocities of the Nazi regime. In total, over 2,000 children (representing more than 20 nationalities) passed through the Children’s Village. The early days were marked by a prolonged struggle to get the installation into running order, secure necessary supplies and hire qualified staff. Tensions which arose as a result of these problems culminated in violent episodes of unrest among the children. The administrative setup in Bad Aibling was reorganized, and the situation gradually improved. With the help of various voluntary agencies such as the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), an ambitious program was developed from 1949 onwards. It was inspired by contemporary trends in child welfare and aimed at developing an inclusive, international community consisting of family-like living groups. Through schooling and vocational training, recreational activities, psychological treatment and individual case work, the inhabitants were prepared for life after the Children’s Village. A decision regarding the future of each child had to be reached. In the majority of cases, the options were either repatriation or resettlement abroad. While the political friction of the Cold War had an undeniable effect on the IRO’s activities in Bad Aibling, it seems impossible to derive a universal set of beliefs guiding the work of relief workers from this fact. Despite occasional contact with the German population as well as international press coverage, the Children’s Village remained more or less isolated from the outside world. The last months of the Children’s Village saw new challenges as the IRO slowly began to wind down its operations in Europe. A change in US occupation policy saw the introduction of new courts which would decide the cases of the remaining children. In 1951, the Children’s Village shut its doors, and its inhabitants were moved to Feldafing. By early 1952, the cases of the remaining children had been closed. It is believed that the history of the Children’s Village, as part of a broader narrative of humanitarian efforts and child welfare in the postwar period, is relevant to the sphere of international relief work today.
Children’s Village, International Refugee Organization (IRO), Bad Aibling, Displaced Children, 1948–1951
Höschler, Christian
2017
Englisch
Universitätsbibliothek der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Höschler, Christian (2017): The IRO Children’s Village Bad Aibling: a refuge in the American Zone of Germany, 1948–1951. Dissertation, LMU München: Fakultät für Geschichts- und Kunstwissenschaften
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Abstract

Based on a variety of source material and previous research, this microhistorical study represents the first comprehensive history of the IRO Children’s Village Bad Aibling. Established in late 1948, it was the central facility within the US Zone of Germany where unaccompanied children were cared for by the International Refugee Organization (IRO). Displaced during or after World War II, their fates were as varied as those of adults who had survived the atrocities of the Nazi regime. In total, over 2,000 children (representing more than 20 nationalities) passed through the Children’s Village. The early days were marked by a prolonged struggle to get the installation into running order, secure necessary supplies and hire qualified staff. Tensions which arose as a result of these problems culminated in violent episodes of unrest among the children. The administrative setup in Bad Aibling was reorganized, and the situation gradually improved. With the help of various voluntary agencies such as the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), an ambitious program was developed from 1949 onwards. It was inspired by contemporary trends in child welfare and aimed at developing an inclusive, international community consisting of family-like living groups. Through schooling and vocational training, recreational activities, psychological treatment and individual case work, the inhabitants were prepared for life after the Children’s Village. A decision regarding the future of each child had to be reached. In the majority of cases, the options were either repatriation or resettlement abroad. While the political friction of the Cold War had an undeniable effect on the IRO’s activities in Bad Aibling, it seems impossible to derive a universal set of beliefs guiding the work of relief workers from this fact. Despite occasional contact with the German population as well as international press coverage, the Children’s Village remained more or less isolated from the outside world. The last months of the Children’s Village saw new challenges as the IRO slowly began to wind down its operations in Europe. A change in US occupation policy saw the introduction of new courts which would decide the cases of the remaining children. In 1951, the Children’s Village shut its doors, and its inhabitants were moved to Feldafing. By early 1952, the cases of the remaining children had been closed. It is believed that the history of the Children’s Village, as part of a broader narrative of humanitarian efforts and child welfare in the postwar period, is relevant to the sphere of international relief work today.