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Children of the Ruins (1948)


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Two small boys play amidst bombed-out ruins. An under-nourished girl carries a baby. A group of emaciated Chinese children reach out their hands for food. The picture painted is universal with children across the globe deprived of basic needs such shelter, education and in some cases their parents.

Even in Britain and America, basic educational facilities are sometimes lacking: in England, bedraggled children gather in the playground of a rundown school; in America, barefoot children queue up outside a ramshackle schoolhouse. Newspaper cuttings report a teachers' strike in New Jersey.

Young girls stay at home in India where, "it was hardly thought feminine for girls to receive any education at all". In China, officials brutally beat the poor and homeless with sticks. Villagers are driven away from their homes by armed soldiers during the Spanish Civil War. Over footage of Hitler Youth marching and Mussolini speaking at a rally the commentator laments that it isn't difficult to dehumanise man himself if you get him young enough and take away the books. Destitute people cling pitifully to their few remaining possessions. A barefoot boy drags a heavy plough across a field. Starving people scavenge for food in dustbins and fight with each other over a crust of bread.

Delegates attend the first UNESCO conference with the aim of addressing these problems.