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support were developed for those suffering from ‘deportation pathology’, a diagnosis resting on a ‘fabricated universality’ of experience.44 What they had in common, however, was their wartime distance from French territory; little recognition was given to psychologically troubled civilians who had remained in France. The experience of bombing was buried under the moral and psychological reconstruction of a nation. Such historical circumstances restricted the expression of traumatic experience among parts of the French population. Part of the social context of trauma

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45
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community solidarity in Hellemmes, and described their participation as entr’aide (mutual aid), rather than duty or service. The capricious nature of where bombs fell created mutual insecurity. It made sense, therefore, that rescue work was shared:  next time, the rescuer could need saving. Although Vichy tried to harness this mood of entr’aide v 130 v In the aftermath to its communitarian project, treating it as evidence of successful moral renewal, it seems unlikely that community reaction to local disaster was underpinned by the ideology of the National Revolution

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45

, permitting a focus on purposeful suffering, a common theme in children’s publishing.32 Children were told to turn their backs on the material world and to lead a moral, spiritual life.33 To demand greater sacrifice seemed quite hard, however, given the extent of family separation and penury. For many, there was little to give up. The idea was that individual children could, and should, contribute, through hard work and suffering now, to a better future. They could bring about national regeneration. Yet nothing advised them about how to handle war. They were ascribed agency

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45
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A conclusion

historical discussion which places so much weight on moral responsibilities for decisions taken in the past. Yet children do have agency:  they make decisions, they act according to their desires and ideas, but there are limitations and no easy way to generalise about them. Oral histories permit the analysis of perceptions of personal agency in interpretations of the past, which are particularly important in composing a coherent sense of one’s own past. Sometimes, interviewees removed their own agency, placing responsibility in the hands of fate, luck or God. Agency thus

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45

of emergency state aid for all sinistrés later that year, and provided on-the-spot cash payments, although its activity was broader, including furniture removal and storage, small repairs, finding lodgings, exerting ‘moral pressure’ on unhelpful landlords and lending furniture (sourced from the seizure of Jewish property).16 The COSI’s leadership came from the ‘collaborationist left’, men from syndicalist backgrounds, many coming out of anti-communist neo-socialism of the 1930s, and most with links to Marcel Déat’s Rassemblement National Populaire (RNP) or Jacques

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45

protests faded away after 1942. The French government continued to condemn Allied air raids but only as part of its domestic propaganda, which attempted to harness immediate popular anger against bombing for the collaborationist cause. Another part of Vichy’s evolving response was to offer visible moral support to victims of bombing. Marshal Pétain or his representative Colonel Bonhomme were usually on the spot after heavy air raids, visiting hospitals and attending funeral services. Pétain’s presence elevated local tragedies to national importance, intending to reassure

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45
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bound around versions of the past.5 With continental Europe overrun by the Wehrmacht, bombing became the sole means for Britain to continue offensive warfare. The Allied bombing of France is little discussed in France, and it is no better known in Britain or America. The complex moral choices involved in attacking a non-combatant nation and the ambiguous nature of the Allies’ relationship with France have clouded over this aspect of the war in the air. The first targets in France from July 1940 were German barges amassing on the coast in preparation to invade Britain

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45

on moral intent to a newly ‘scientific’ humanitarianism. It also saw those in Britain who protested the rights and duties of humanity yoke their own emancipatory, liberationist and democratic struggles to an image of the downtrodden but fiercely independent Boers. This was no more apparent than in the articulation of a radical feminine critique which saw concern for suffering humanity

in Calculating compassion

‘tender consciences’. In this context, the importance of natural law for the understanding of the essentially ethical message of scripture and, therefore, for salvation, was a focal point of discussion. This is what Ascham referred to when he agreed with Grotius about the moral impossibility of renouncing the capacity to judge what was morally just or unjust. Yet, unlike him, this was exactly the point

in Order and conflict
‘Victim’ nations and the brotherhood of humanity

those affected by war in the Balkans. Double that amount was eventually collected for victims of the Madras famine. That this was a ‘white man’s burden’ appeared self-evident; that this was also a peculiarly ‘English man’s burden’, shouldered with innate moral good sense, was no less apparent. Nevertheless, if aid in colonial famine appeared an act of mercy in the face of natural

in Calculating compassion