Coming of Age in Post-War Berlin: Young Women’s Search for New Emotional Subjectivities, 1946-1950

Tiia Sahrakorpi*, Cherish Watton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Downloads (Pure)


During the Allied occupation of Germany, educators asked students to write about their feelings and experiences of youth before and after the Second World War. This article uses Abitur and Reifeprüfung examination essays written by young German women, between the ages of fourteen and twenty-three, to explore how they performed and represented their emotional subjectivities in early postwar Berlin. First, it examines how young women used selective strategies of forgetting and remembering to repress their troubling emotional memories of the regime. Second it explores how women achieved some level of psychic comfort, through a selective remembering of their home lives and Bund Deutsche Mädel experiences by developing different emotional coping mechanisms. The article argues that young women’s emotional renegotiation was not a passive process as previously thought, but rather based on young women’s active and astute reading of the postwar emotional climate. Subjecting these emotional subjectivities to greater attention elucidates a key, but hitherto underexplored, stage in these young people’s lives.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbershac002
Pages (from-to)168-194
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Social History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • young people
  • emotions
  • Nazi Germany
  • examination essays


Dive into the research topics of 'Coming of Age in Post-War Berlin: Young Women’s Search for New Emotional Subjectivities, 1946-1950'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this