An untold number of children were touched by the atrocities of World War II. Throughout
the war, the proportion of civilian deaths to military deaths is said to have been as high
as three to one — and some countries were definitely affected much worse than others.
The country most affected during the war was Poland. More than 6 million people, equal to
one-sixth of the country's pre-war population, died during World War II. All of these
victims were predominantly civilian, with a great many of them being children.
However, getting caught up in the maelstrom of war, whether it be a mass execution or a
bombing raid were not the only tragic circumstances that Polish children had to worry
about. Many of them faced the distinct possibility of being kidnapped by their German
oppressors. Under "Generalplan Ost" — the Nazi plan for genocide and ethnic cleansing in
Europe — tens of thousands of Polish children were kidnapped and taken to Germany to
It has been calculated that over 250,000 Polish children were kidnapped during World War
II. It is estimated that nearly 75 percent of these children never made it back home to
their families in Poland after the war.
Aside from Poland, a large number of other countries suffered immensely horrifying
civilian casualties during World War II. Some of the countries include include the Soviet
Union, China, Germany (where an estimated 76,000 children died as a direct result of
Allied bombing raids), Japan, India, and the Philippines.
Let us not forget that more than 1 million Jewish children were killed by the Nazis and
their allies or packed into ghettos across Eastern Europe. In these ghettos, children
often died from starvation and other privations. Those that did not die in the ghettos
were either consigned to the death camps to be gassed or were executed and placed in mass
Only those adults and children who were considered productive and useful to the German war
effort were spared and even then, their fate was effectively secured by the horrendous
working conditions and the miniscule amount of food given to each needed for subsistence.
What made these mass killings even worse was the fact that, during the war, most of the
world thought that these stories of mass extermination and death camps were propaganda -
tales not to be believed.
Many of the most touching photographs that depict children during World War 2 show Britain
during the Blitz. A large number of British children were sent away to the countryside as
part of the government’s evacuation scheme known as Operation Pied Piper. The evacuation
scheme had been touted as a great success in the media but in actual fact, by early 1940,
more than 60 percent of children had returned home, just in time to witness the Blitz. All
told, at least 5,028 children died during the Blitz.
While historians have tended to focus on other more high profiles topics relating to the
Second World War the facy remains that without a doubt, children are the forgotten victims
of the war.
A little girl holds her doll in the rubble of her bomb-damaged home. England. 1940.
Children in a concentration camp during WW2
A Jewish boy raises his hands at gunpoint during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of
civilians against the Nazis. Poland. April-May 1943.
London children wear their gas masks as they play in the park at their temporary homes
on the south coast of England. 1940
A young child cries upon arriving at King's Cross Station in London for wartime
Children play on the bomb sites and wrecked tanks in Berlin in the aftermath of the
fighting there. 1945.
A group of child survivors stand behind a barbed wire fence at the Auschwitz-Birkenau
concentration camp in southern Poland on the day of the camp’s liberation by the Red Army.
January 27, 1945.
Children perch on a tree near the Brandenburg Gate to watch a U.S. cargo plane arrive
during the Berlin Airlift. June 24, 1948.
A group of children wearing gas masks carry out a practice evacuation of a school in
Kingston, Greater London, after a canister of tear gas was discharged. 1941.
An elderly woman and several children walk to the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Three young evacuees sit on their suitcases ready for their journey away from the
danger of the city. England. 1940.
Children in London, who have been made homeless by the Nazi night bombing, wait
outside the wreckage of what was their home. September 1940.
A mother and child wear gas masks during a tear gas exercise in Kingston-On-Thames,
Jewish children, survivors of Auschwitz, stand with a nurse behind a barbed wire
fence. Poland. February 1945.
Evacuee children sent away from London greet their parents during a special one-day
reunion. December 4, 1939.
A homeless boy points out his bedroom to his friends after his home had been wrecked
during a random bombing raid in an eastern suburb of London. 1940.
Mothers and their children step out of the train at Auschwitz concentration camp.
Poland. Date unspecified.
Two little girls read a board advertising carrots instead of ice pops. Wartime
shortages of chocolate and ice cream made such substitutions a necessity. London. 1941.
A group of London children inspect bomb damage outside their front door. 1944.
A boy retrieves an item from a rubble-strewn street after German bombing raids in the
first month of the Blitz in England. September 1940.
Children play in a bomb-damaged area of London. March 1946.
London schoolchildren try on their gas masks. 1941.
A young refugee hangs onto his dog's leash whilst awaiting wartime evacuation.
Location unspecified. 1940.
American Supply Sergeant Ralph Gordon kneels in a street to give a piece of gum to a
barefoot German girl during the Allied occupation after the war. Scheinfeld, Germany.
Some of the first children to be evacuated from London under a new law which compels
parents to send away any child suffering in any way from shelter life. Children
participate in a gas mask drill at a residential school near Windsor. Date unspecified.
Child survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp stand near the fence just before
being liberated by the Red Army. Poland. January 27, 1945.
A porter pushes the luggage of evacuees bound for Wales on a trolley at a London
railway station, with a young boy perched on top of the suitcases. 1940.
An abandoned boy holds a stuffed toy animal amid ruins following a German aerial
bombing of London. 1940.
Young boys swing from a lamp post in the midst of rubble left by a bombing raid on
London during the Blitz. 1940.
A young "Sergeant Major" inspects some British schoolboys who have been evacuated to
Kent at the start of the war. The "soldiers" are carrying carry wooden guns. 1939.
Although "Ramshaw" the eagle is hooded, this little evacuee decided to take no
chances, and made use of her gas mask to take a closer look at the eagle. England. 1941.
Father Christmas hands out toys and games, including a set of building bricks, to
children at a home for evacuees in Henley-on-Thames, England. 1941.
A woman fits a child with a gas mask at school. England. 1940.
A little girl waits nervously with her doll and luggage before leaving London for her
Young London residents celebrate VE-Day, 1945
A little French girl finds three admirers from the ranks of American forces who have
made a speedy and successful advance through Normandy, France on June 22, 1944.