Memory, Justice and the Public Record


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Archival Science;Online First


Springer Verlag

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After WWII, there were approximately 10,000 children with Norwegian mothers and German fathers in Norway. In the late 1980s, these ‘‘war children’s’’ fate became a topic of public debate, when accusations of maltreatment and harassment were made public. A research project organised by the Norwegian Research Council in 1998 concluded that the children had been subject to harassment and illegally deprived of some of their basic civilian rights between 1945 and 1955. Then, in 2006, Norwegian parliament approved a special reparation system for war children, in which the size of the compensation was made dependent on the documentation that each individual might bring forth. After 2 years of this system’s functioning, it is evident that only a small percentage of the war children have been able to produce the necessary evidence. In this article, I will explore the roles that social memory and archival records may have played in constructing the war children as a social group, why the individual war child’s life tends to be poorly documented in public records, and why the reparation system privileges public records as evidence. Finally, I will discuss the archivist’s position as the intermediary between the records and the individuals seeking justice, how archivists should respond to such calls for justice and what they might do to create a more inclusive memory of the past.



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