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Childhood in War Project
Research Project at the Munich University
“Childhood during World War II and its consequences"

The project was founded in 2003. It dealt with long time results of the childhood under the influence of the Second World War and, in Germany, of the national socialism (NS). It was terminated in 2009, though the evaluation of the results run until 2012.

The subject of the project is the present representations of experiences and relationships in regard to this background, subjective attitudes and assessments. These are investigated by a personal interview and questionnaires. The evaluation is carried out partly quantitatively and partly with methods of qualitative research by a categorical methodology.

The general question of the project is: How have individuals who were born between 1933 and 1945 processed their experiences during their childhood after 60 years? Three main questions of interest arise:

  • How do they assess their experiences today and which consequences do they see for their life, self understanding and attitudes?
  • How do they present their experiences and knowledge in th research interview?
  • How have these experiences effected their later life, e.g. in respect to their health and to their relationships?

Further special questions concern differences in the processing between Eastern and Western Germany as well as between Germany and Japan. Comparisons are indended to be made between different European countries later.
As a specific topic, in addition, in a group of psychoanalysts the question of the significance of the childhood in war for their profesisonal socialization and for their professional practice is studied.

The project was founded in connection with several institutions in Germany. A European research cooperation was projected but unfortenately not realized. A cooperation with a research group in Japan was inaugurated.

The studies in Germany run under the topic “Childhood in the II World War and in the NS time ". It contains several studies:

  • Prestudy 1 is a literature enquiry which was already finished. It was found out that in general discussion the war childhood was recognized as an important moment in the development, but it is taken little into account in the published psychotherapeutic literature (Cisneros 2003).
  • In prestudy 2 psychotherapy reports were evaluated. Following the temporary results war childhood data are cited in the reports, however, they have little relevance for the assessment of psychodynamics and the therapeutic process (Ermann, Hughes, Katz 2007).
  • Prestudy 3 found an increased amount of PTSD symptoms in war children of our studies after 60 years (Kuwert et al. 2006, 2007).

The main studies are in the elevation stage. They contain in regard to methodology:

  • Questionnaire studies which serve for description of war-children memories and subjective assessments.
  • Interview studies for deepened investigation of individual memories, processing and assessments (so called representations).

    On the basis of a broadly scattered questionnaire 100 participants for personal interviews are chosen.

    There are three thematic topics:
    • Representations of the childhood in war and in the NS time after 60 years
    • Differences of processing between eastern and western Germany
    • Childhood in war, the NS time, and psychoanalytical socialization, a spezial study with a group of 30 psychoanalysts.

    A special additional study is investigating the memories of Japanese war children and make a comparison between Japanese and Germans in respect to the representation of the childhood in war possible.

Proceedings

  • 870 questionnaires were submittet to the project and evaluated.
  • 100 personal interviews were performed in Germany. The interview phase of the project was completed in July 2007.
  • 2007 / 08The methodology of qualitative assessment was tested.
  • Results of the project were presented during a scientific conference in Munich in February 2009, at the European Conference on Traumatic Stress in Vienna 2011 and on the occasion of the 60 years' ceremony at the Konan University in Kobe in October 2011
  • 2011 the evaluations were finished (see button Themata)
  • The results are published (see Button Publication