Small Hands in World War II

Small Hands in World War II

What does it mean to be a war child? In this first German documentary film series for children about World War II, we very deliberately set the official version of history against a young and international perspective and show how children experienced the war in Europe.

The series “Small Hands in World War II” tells a young audience the stories of children who lived through this difficult time and saw with their own eyes – the eyes of children – the destruction and the suffering caused by the most devastating war in the history of mankind.  Our protagonists include a French girl who helps to hide a Jewish family, a German child soldier, or a forced labourer from the Czech Republic, whose life is saved by an accordion.

At the heart of this children's series are the experiences of eight child protagonists and their responses to the war – to air raids, hunger, loss, escape and persecution – but also their everyday lives and how these experiences shaped them. The series is based on diaries and letters of children from the period from 1933 to 1945. 

"Small Hands in World War II" is the continuation and further development of the 2014 series "Small Hands in a Big War", which introduced a brand new history TV format for children, and was focussed on World War I. The second series follows in the footsteps of the first, elaborately dramatizing the personal stories and combining them with exciting archive material and imaginative animations. The three elements overlap, supplement and reinforce one another.

We intend to open up really new and different perspectives on the history of the Second World War, which is why we are working closely with our international partners, for example, in Poland, Great Britain and Scandinavia – including among others the Polin Museum in Warsaw.  We are also being assisted by the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television (IZI), which is developing and implementing a comprehensive study along with the series.

Through "Small Hands in World War II", today's children have the opportunity to learn more about war children and the lives they lived, in an emotive and exciting way – lives that were different and incredible in one way, but, in another, seem as relevant and close as never before…