• Hester Vaizey
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


Looking back on the day that her father left home to join the Army, Elspeth Emmerich remembered pleading with him to stay. She hugged him tightly and listened to her father as he promised that he would be back soon.1 Elspeth was five when her father left her, her two sisters and her mother in Düsseldorf on 30 November 1939. When the political events of World War Two came hurtling into the private sphere, many families like the Emmerichs were dramatically affected. Throughout the course of the war, 18 million German men left families behind to serve in the Armed Forces.2 The majority of two-parent families became one-parent families at some stage during the war. This naturally altered the family dynamic within the home. Like Elspeth’s mother, many women were forced to take on sole responsibility for the upbringing of their children. Fathers could only attempt to retain their role from a distance. And as the Allied bombing campaigns began in earnest in 1942/43, war became a more immediate and emotional enterprise as the fear of death and the loss of loved ones became an all-round concern. How then, did the external disruptions caused by war affect the family relationships of Germans?


Family Relationship Social History Political Event Family Dynamic Gender Study 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Hester Vaizey 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hester Vaizey
    • 1
  1. 1.Alfred Toepfer StiftungHamburgGermany

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