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why do sources A to F differ in their attitudes to the evacuation of children

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Why do sources A to E differ in their attitudes to the evacuation of children?

On the 1st September 1939; two days before the declaration of war, the British Government officially started to evacuate civilians from Britain’s major cities. It was mainly children who were evacuated, but others such as the disabled and blind, teachers, mothers and young children and also pregnant women were also sent away. In the first three days of September, around 3 million people were evacuated. They were sent away from Britain’s major and densely populated cities, into small, rural villages. The government believed that industrial cities, ports and production locations would be heavily bombed by the Germans, and so all civilians that were unnecessarily in danger were evacuated into safer areas.

Source A is a primary source, it is a photograph of evacuees walking to the station in London, September 1939. The author of the photograph is unknown, as is the purpose of the photo. Most of the evacuees are children, but they are being accompanied by several adults. We can infer that the adults who are walking with the children are teachers because they are not walking close to any of the children, but ensuring that they are not walking in the road. We also know that many teachers stayed with the children throughout the evacuation process, to ensure their safety and to ensure that they were educated during the years away from home. This also suggest why so many children are being evacuated at the same time, we know that many classes were evacuated together, so that the children felt as comfortable as possible and to make the process simpler. All of the children in the photo are smiling and waving towards the camera, showing excitement and happiness. This contradicts my own knowledge as we know that many children ran back home because they were unhappy at being evacuated. However, we know that many of the children had enjoyable experiences and some even return after the war had finished. Many children also reacted positively when they see a camera and pretend to be having a good time. All of the children and carrying the essential evacuation luggage, an information tag and a gas mark. Some of the children are also carrying personal luggage with them, which was not common amongst evacuees. The source’s attitude towards evacuation is that it was enjoyable and exciting and the correct decision to make in regards to your child’s safety. The source shows the evacuation of children to be a positive thing.

The photo was taken in September 1939, which would mean that these children would have been some of the first to be evacuated. This would be before any fighting contact had been made with the enemy, and so the children would not be afraid because the war had not affected them very much at this point. Many children returned home after a few months because no bombs had hit Britain, but once the Blitz started, many children were re-evacuated. This time period of no bombing on Britain is called the Phoney War. As with all photos, this source only shows one moment in time in one particular place. The photo could have been staged and then used as propaganda to show parents that evacuation was enjoyable and the best thing for their children. This is supported by the fact that we know many of the parents did not want to be separated from their children and sign up for the evacuation process. I therefore think that this source is reliable, because although it contradicts some of the knowledge from my studies, it also supports the main component of the photo. The photo can be linked to source D, in that they are both visual representations of evacuated children. The sources show the same thing, evacuated evacuating children looking happy. Source A; does however, contradict Source B. Source B is a teacher claiming that “the children were too afraid to talk”. This gives a completely different attitude towards evacuation, happiness compared to fear. Source A also contradicts the attitude towards evacuation given in source E. Source E claims is an interview with a father, who says that he will not send away his child because he claims that it is better to live in Southend “they’ve nothing there”

Source B is an extract from an interview in 1988 with a teacher. The teacher recalls being evacuated with children from her school. The interview took place to get a greater insight into what people thought about the evacuation of children. “the children were too afraid to talk” This shows that the women believed that the children did not enjoy their evacuation and that they were scared. The teacher also claims that the mothers were allowed walk with the children, which gives a reason for why the children were scared. “We hadn’t the slightest idea where we were going” This shows how unorganised the evacuation was and gives yet another reason why the children were scared. The attitude of the source towards the evacuation of children is that it was an unhappy time for most of the people involved. Both children and teachers had anxiety about being evacuated, and the children were unhappy and frightened about being evacuated. The source shows the evacuation of children to be a negative thing.

Source B is reliable because it is a first hand account of what happened whilst the children were being evacuated, however, it is not 100% reliable because the interview took place almost 50 years after the day she is describing. It also combines well with my knowledge of evacuation. We know that many of the children showed anxiety at being separated from their parents and this is proved by many children running back home. The source heavily contradicts Source A, they show the opposite emotions that children felt towards being evacuated. One shows the children being happy and waving at the camera, whilst the others claims that the children “were too afraid to talk” It also contradicts source D, which shows two evacuees smiling and looking very happy. However, the women’s view on evacuation of children is supported by Source E, an interview with a father. The father claims says that he will not allow his child to be evacuated and shows hostility and anxiety towards the process.

Source C is an extract from a novel called “Carrie’s War”, which is about evacuees. The book was written in 1973. The novel was produced as children’s literature, and was therefore aimed at entertaining the reader. The short extract is a scene in which depicts a scene with a young brother and sister talking to Miss Evans, the women who has taken them in. The siblings do not have any slippers with them because they hadn’t had room to pack them, Miss Evans misinterprets this and thinks that the pair are poor and cannot afford slippers. The sisters realises this and tells her brother, which causes the pair to giggle. “ “We haven’t any” … “Oh, I’m sorry, how silly of me” … “She thinks we’re poor children, too poor to have slippers,” and they giggled.” To my knowledge, we know that only essential items were packed, and many children left with only the clothes on their back and their gas mask. This supports the fact that the children in the novel did not pack their slippers. The source portrays a mixed attitude towards evacuation. The fact that the brother and sister were not separated is unusual. Most families would only take one evacuee and so most siblings were split up, resulting in them feeling scared and alone. The attitude of the source towards the evacuation of children is mixed. It depicts it as negative as Miss Evans immediately stereotypes the children, believing that they are poor. This stereotype would alter the way in which Miss Evans treated the children, for either the better or the worse. It portrays a positive view as the two children are giggling, which shows that they were enjoying their evacuation and were not afraid of the experience. Overall the attitude of the source is positive, it shows staying together, united, and the children enjoying themselves.

Source C is a work of fiction, and therefore the content has limits regarding its reliability. Although, many aspects of its content are true because I have tested them against my own knowledge. The attitude of this source is similar to that of the attitude Source A, they both show the evacuated children enjoying themselves. The source’s attitude towards the evacuation of children is also similar to that of Source D. Source D’s attitude is positive, the source portrays two children smiling and therefore enjoying their experience of evacuation.  The source is different to source B as one claims that the children were scared, but source C shows the children to have enjoyed their experience. The source contradict Source E, as the speaker in this interview claims that his child would not be well looked after if he was evacuated, whereas this short extract portrays the women as being considerate and looking after the children well.

Source D is an advertisement issued by the government in 1940. The advertisement features a plea from the Secretary of State; who had been entrusted by the government with the conduct of evacuation, calling for more people in Scotland to offer their homes to house children that needed to be evacuated. The source is headlined by a picture of two happy and smiling children. The advert was distributed in Scottish public places for those who have a spare room for an evacuated child. The purpose of the source was to persuade people in Scotland to enlist and look after children for the period of their evacuation. The source is likely to be biased as it is a piece of propaganda, everything issued by the government was censored so it became suitable for public viewing. It agrees with my own knowledge because I know that there was a decline in the number of people that wanted to offer their houses to evacuees but a rise in the number of people needing to be evacuated. It agrees with my own knowledge because I know that there was a decline in the number of people that wanted to offer their houses to evacuees but a rise in the number of people needing to be evacuated. At this time, Germany was invading France, and so the government were worried that Britain would be the next country to be invaded. Therefore they were under increasing amounts of pressure to find more host families for more children to be evacuated. The source shows us that the government were panicking. The attitude of the source is that evacuation is a positive thing for all involved; the children are “healthier and happier” whilst, the “foster-parents” are “doing a real service for the nation”.

The source is not reliable in what it is trying to shows the reader (that all of the children enjoyed themselves) because it is propaganda that is trying to persuade. The government would want to hide anything that would cause a drop in morale, whilst manipulating anything it can into raising the spirits of the British public. The source is however, reliable in telling us that the morale of the country is low. This is reiterated by the fact that the posters have to be issued in the first place. The source links well with Source A as they both show evacuated children smiling and looking happy. It is different to source B as source B claims that the children were “too afraid to talk”. The source is similar to source C as that source depict children giggling and being happy.

Source E is an extract from interview with a father of a seven-year-old child, in May 1940. He has extremely negative views on evacuation, and this originates from the way he believes children are treated when they reach their host families. He believes that if he sends his sun to “The Shires. Wales and the West”, then he would not be looked after well. “They can’t be looked after where they’re sending them.” The purpose of the source was to learn what the public thought about the evacuation of children. Although the source is only one man’s view on the subject, he claims that “People are so funny here; first they say they’ll send them, then they say they won’t” This gives us an insight into what the general view was on the evacuation of children. However, this is only based on this man’s thoughts about everyone else. This therefore can not necessarily be trusted. This accusation of what people are thinking may be due to the fact that the Blitz occurred several months after the first evacuations had taken place. Many mothers and fathers would before The Blitz would believe that their children were safe anywhere because no bombs had been dropped at that point. But once the Blitz had started many people realised the danger and wanted their child to be evacuated. The overall attitude of the Source is that evacuation was a bad idea and that the children were not looked after by their foster families. It portrays the evacuation of children as a negative.

The purpose of the source means that it is quite reliable. But because it is a survey you can never be sure on the tonality of the way that the questions are put across, and also the kind of attitude that comes across is that he doesn’t want his child to be safe, but in hindsight you can say that the father may not have realised that the area of the country that he lives in was to be bombed; the interview took place before the blitz started. This source is different to source C as source C claims that the areas that children were generally evacuated to were stereotypically richer than those who were evacuated. It is also different to source D, which claims that children are “healthier and happier” when they’ve been evacuated. This shows that the government believed that they could be taken care of in the foster homes.

I think that sources A to E differ in their attitudes to the evacuation of children for many reasons. The first reason is because of the purpose of the source. Some sources to would want to portray the process as positive to help achieve it’s purpose, whilst other would want to portray it as negative to help achieve its purpose. The second reason for differing attitudes towards evacuation is that different people created each source and everyone was affected differently by evacuation. Some of the authors may have been evacuated themselves and therefore their personal experience would be portrayed in the attitude of the source. The people that were evacuated are likely to have their opinions of evacuation influenced by the host families that they stayed with. Some people stayed with loving and caring families whilst others stayed with abusive people who just wanted the money from the government. The third reason for which the sources differ in their attitudes to the evacuation of children is sometimes the time at which the source was made. Sources made before and after the “Phoney War” would have differing attitudes because the danger that they had experienced at that point. Furthermore, primary sources can have different attitudes towards evacuation as secondary sources. Primary sources are written whilst the event is happening and so they can not know everyone point-of-view on the evacuation of children. Secondary sources however, have been able to collect whatever information they have needed and can more easily have an objective view on it. To conclude, sources A to E differ in their attitudes to the evacuation of children because everyone had a differing opinion in the matter.

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