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This article explores the efforts by Aileen Fitzpatrick, the Australian social worker, who repatriated child refugees from Greece at the height of the Greek Civil War, to reconstruct ‘healthy, happy family units’. I explore several themes. First, Fitzpatrick’s argument for the unification of families echoed the view that the family unit represented democracy and freedom in the post-war period. Second, an appeal to reuniting family became a successful strategy for crossing cold war lines when dealing with several governments. Third, for Fitzpatrick child saving from war and reuniting families was perceived to be essential to democracy, humanitarianism and internationalism. Finally, by taking a biographical approach, the details of the experience of family emerge in new ways. A focus on Fitzpatrick’s strategies suggests family rhetoric could be used to both promote and yet also cross cold war lines. More broadly, this article seeks to embed the history of the family within the general history of the post-war period as a way of highlighting how the ideal of the family was mobilised in rhetoric on freedom, democracy and the future and which in practice revealed the severe challenges facing families after the war.


Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences

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Journal Article

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