Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900-1948 by Tara ZahraKidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900-1948 by Tara Zahra

Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900-1948

byTara Zahra

Paperback | August 1, 2011

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Throughout the nineteenth and into the early decades of the twentieth century, it was common for rural and working-class parents in the Czech-German borderlands to ensure that their children were bilingual by sending them to live with families who spoke the "other" language. As nationalism became a more potent force in Central Europe, however, such practices troubled pro-German and pro-Czech activists, who feared that the children born to their nation could literally be "lost" or "kidnapped" from the national community through such experiences and, more generally, by parents who were either flexible about national belonging or altogether indifferent to it.

Highlighting this indifference to nationalism—and concerns about such apathy among nationalists—Kidnapped Souls offers a surprising new perspective on Central European politics and society in the first half of the twentieth century. Drawing on Austrian, Czech, and German archives, Tara Zahra shows how nationalists in the Bohemian Lands worked to forge political cultures in which children belonged more rightfully to the national collective than to their parents. Through their educational and social activism to fix the boundaries of nation and family, Zahra finds, Czech and German nationalists reveal the set of beliefs they shared about children, family, democracy, minority rights, and the relationship between the individual and the collective. Zahra shows that by 1939 a vigorous tradition of Czech-German nationalist competition over children had created cultures that would shape the policies of the Nazi occupation and the Czech response to it.

The book's concluding chapter weighs the prehistory and consequences of the postwar expulsion of German families from the Bohemian Lands. Kidnapped Souls is a significant contribution to our understanding of the genealogy of modern nationalism in Central Europe and a groundbreaking exploration of the ways in which children have been the objects of political contestation when national communities have sought to shape, or to reshape, their futures.

Tara Zahra is Associate Professor of History at the University of Chicago.
Title:Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900-1948Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.27 inPublished:August 1, 2011Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801477603

ISBN - 13:9780801477607

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Table of Contents

1. "Czech Schools for Czech Children!"
2. Teachers, Orphans, and Social Workers
3. Warfare, Welfare, and the End of Empire
4. Reclaiming Children for the Nation
5. Freudian Nationalists and Heimat Activists
6. Borderland Children and Volkstumsarbeit under Nazi Rule
7. Stay-at-Home Nationalism
8. Reich-Loyal Czech Nationalism


Editorial Reviews

"Kidnapped Souls brilliantly details how Czech and German nationalists attempted to claim, secure, and then mold children for their respective nations—often in the face of stiff resistance from nationally indifferent parents. Along the way, it offers thought-provoking analyses of the rise of the welfare state, interwar democracy, domestic life under Nazi rule, and the rise and fall of a forgotten political culture in the Bohemian Lands. Ambitious in its chronological breadth and supported by a dizzying array of archival sources, the book challenges historians of Europe to rethink many fundamental presumptions about the aims and successes of modern national movements."—Chad Bryant, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill