Growing Up Communist in the Netherlands and Britain
Growing Up Communist in the Netherlands and Britain
Childhood, Political Activism, and Identity Formation
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Table of Contents
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1 Introduction: Cradle Communists and Oral History

Part I

2 Under the Party’s Wing: Communist Youth Organisations 1920-1956
Foundation years

Class Against Class and Popular Front
The Spanish Civil War
The Second World War
Promising years: 1945-1948
Isolation: 1948-1956

3 Out of the Shadows: Communist Youth Organisations 1957-1968
The ban-the-bomb movement
The politicisation of youth
The student movement
The anti-Vietnam War movement
Old guard vs. new guard

4 Fragmentation and Demise: Communist Youth Organisations 1969-1991
Gender roles, sexuality and the feminist movement
The anti-racist movement
The gay rights movement
The final years

Part II

5 From Heroes to Villains: The Second World War and '1956'
Resistance and war trauma

6 Private Spheres: Communist Home Life
Politics at home
Cultural upbringing
Child-rearing mores

7 Public Spheres: Neighbourhood, School and Work
School and education
Work and careers
Anti-communism – MI5 and the BVD
Working mothers
Money and poverty
Summer camps and holidays
Friendships and relationships

8 Epilogue: Looking Back

9 Afterword

List of Abbreviations

Reviews and Features

“Excellent – well researched, convincing in its argument, and a valuable contribution to communist (and wider social) history.”
– Matthew Worley, Professor of Modern History, University of Reading; Co-founder and editor of Twentieth Century Communism

“Elke Weesjes has built on the work of the historians of communism who have charted the study of daily communist lives as they were lived, not as simply an expression of Soviet policies. She skillfully compares the British and Dutch communist movements, specifically the experiences of children growing up in “red” families. Breaking new methodological and historiographical ground, this book captures the subjective experience of mid-twentieth century communist life in these two countries and how this influenced the forms of radicalism that emerged in the 1960s and beyond.”
– Paul C. Mishler, Associate Professor of Labor Studies, Indiana University; author of Raising Reds: Young Pioneers, Radical Summer Camps, and Communist Political Culture in the United States 1922-1956 (Columbia University Press, 1999)

Elke Weesjes

Growing Up Communist in the Netherlands and Britain

Childhood, Political Activism, and Identity Formation

Growing Up Communist in the Netherlands and Britain: Childhood, Political Activism, and Identity Formation documents communists’ attempts, successful and otherwise, to overcome their isolation and to connect with the major social and political movements of the twentieth century. Communist parties in Britain and the Netherlands emerged from the Second World War expecting to play a significant role in post-war society, due to their domestic anti-fascist activities and to the part played by the Soviet Union in defeating fascism. The Cold War shattered these hopes, and isolated communist parties and their members. By analysing the accounts of communist children, Weesjes highlights their struggle to establish communities and define their identities within the specific cultural, social, and political frameworks of their countries.

Elke Weesjes

Elke Weesjes is a visiting research fellow at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, and an adjunct assistant professor at the City University of New York in Brooklyn, where she teaches courses in modern European and U.S. history, and women’s and gender studies.