Lost Childhood. Interviews with former institutionalized children in Austria
Sprache des Vortragstitels:
Fragile Memories. Doing Oral History with vulnerable narrators
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
2010 and 2011 several former inmates of children´s and youth welfare institutions reported their experiences to the media including cases of child abuse and/or massive exercise of violence. This caused scandals and widespread media reports. The author of the proposal was involved in diverse projects, which dealt with the history of foster care in Austria. He was member of an official investigative commission in Vienna bringing the cases to the public. In a further step several interviews with abandoned children, street children and marginalized children from minorities were conducted all over Austria. Written life stories or other written biographical records were also used as sources for his research. The presentation bases on more than one hundred interviews with outcast children, who experienced their childhood from post-war society up to the 1980s. The interviews discussed in this paper differ from ordinary oral history interviews, they last much longer and they had to be more questioning than usual. The self-presentation of the lives or parts of the lives of former foster children and what it does mean for the researcher were finally discussed. In 2016 a state act in Austrian parliament took place, a ?gesture of responsibility? of the republic towards former institutionalised children. This can be seen to some degree as a success of the experts and researchers who investigated hundreds of cases. Before, ?nobody believed us?, one former inmate explained.