The Kindertransport everyday: the complexities of domestic space for child refugees

Hannah Louise Coombs

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Abstract

Analysis of refugee experiences often stands in the context of broad and visible experiences, despite the accounts of child refugees consistently recalling their experiences through domestic, everyday experience. Over 80 years since the Kindertransport, the autobiographical literature bears witness to the lived realities of Kindertransport refugees, standing as memorials to their alternative experiences of the Holocaust. This paper addresses accounts shared through autobiographical texts, arguing that the Kinder constantly negotiated their identity performance in response to new ‘home’ spaces, creating new relationships with space in the homes of others. This article discusses spatial theory and identity performance to analyse the ways in which domestic spaces were a defining factor in the Kinder’s experiences and identity development, and likewise, how the Kinder’s experiences shaped their perceptions of domestic space. Everyday experiences exert affective impacts through repetitive encounters, and the Kindertransport saw children immersed in new everyday norms. Entering new, shared spaces during childhood, the Kinder experienced long-lasting impacts on identity development as they became distanced from familiar norms and suddenly immersed in new alternatives. Kinder found themselves with limited privacy in seemingly private homes as they entered into already-inhabited domestic environments. Blurred boundaries between public and private within these spaces contributed to an unusual constancy of performance as the Kinder were constantly before an audience.
Original languageEnglish
Article number25
Number of pages11
JournalGenealogy
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • Kindertransport
  • Refugee
  • Spatial
  • Domestic
  • Identity

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