Child Holocaust Survivors: Memories and Reflections

Traumatic memory and the intergenerational transmission of Holocaust narratives.
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My extended family is dispersed all over the US, in Israel and in France. The Diaspora is not a theoretical idea but I feel that I have always lived a mini-Diaspora which has enabled me to feel a part of the world, not just of this country. My status as a refugee from Nazi Germany definitely influenced my view of the world as well as the activities with which I have been involved throughout my life.

My mother and her 7 siblings all managed to leave Germany though the last did not do so until early in Despite their having difficulties and unspeakable sorrow at their inability to facilitate their parents' departure, they did not survive in conditions which those who were in the camps experienced.

The German Jewish refugees were not embraced heartily by the predominantly Eastern European Jews who populated Philadelphia where I grew up. The oldest Reform Congregation which dated back to the German Jewish immigration of the mids undertook to be supportive but I have always felt their attitude was one of charitable works, not the warmest welcome.

I hope this does not sound unfair; it is simply put my perception. The groups who arrived from Hitler's Europe congregated amongst themselves as refugees and immigrants usually do. Folks seek their Landsleut' whether they are from Rumania, Michoacan or the hills of Laos.

Survivors and Memory | Facing History and Ourselves

My parents joined a congregation formed by German Jews all of whom arrived when we did and for many years the prayer book was in Hebrew and German. My father was born in Kerpen, a small town near Cologne, Germany. He grew up as Hitler rose to power. He related the story that, as a young person in school, a Nazi teacher told him to come in front of the class, and the teacher used my father to demonstrate what a Jew looked like.

After the war, my father was riding a bus in town, and that same teacher got on the bus. The teacher got off at the next stop. My father tells how he hid during Kristallnacht. His entire family was murdered at Auschwitz.

A Prisoner of Memory

Through incredible physical and mental strength, a great deal of intelligence, and luck, my father survived. The Nazis had recorded that they had shot him just a few months before the end of the war. After the war, when my father returned to Kerpen, out of approximately 5, Jews who had lived in the town, he was the only one who had survived. In the several years after the war, as he waited to be allowed to immigrate to America, he worked with the CIA hunting down Nazis in Europe.

He had an aunt and uncle in Seattle who had gotten out before the war. He came here to live with them, where he met my mother and started a family. After he retired, he spoke at many Seattle-area schools about his experience. His main message was to not hate other people. I have felt somewhat like a survivor myself.

I always felt very badly about what happened to him and the unspeakable suffering he experienced.

A Child Holocaust Survivor Takes Her Son on a Tour of Auschwitz - Timeline

It left me feeling that the normalcy of life here in America could disappear quickly, like it did in Germany. But it has left me feeling proud to be an American—as this country liberated my father, and allowed him to build a new life. His experience also left me with a realization of the terrible evil that humans are capable of. What happened to my father has made me see how unfair life can be. He was incredibly smart, but was deprived of a formal education because of the Nazis.

His experience does influence me. I try to be a good person. I try to make the world a better place, in the small ways that I can. I try to be an ethical person. I sometimes fall short, but I keep trying. My father was a great man. He never complained or felt sorry for himself. He was my hero. He died in Despite everything, he never lost his faith in God.

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I was nineteen years old when I began a new life in the United States. Rachel from Tel Aviv. It permeates the air. This is consistent with the tripartite model of reminiscence functions in which boredom reduction is a self-negative function. I remember in Auschwitz when we were separated from my sisters and mother. Research has demonstrated the negative emotional valence of bitterness revival, boredom reduction and, to a lesser extent, intimacy maintenance.

My father and his family were Viennese Jews. His father, my grandfather, was a self-made man who owned a prosperous lumber business.

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However, my father always sensed antisemitic sentiments in Vienna and as a law student at the University of Vienna, he closely followed news from Germany. He remembers that friends and neighbors became strangers overnight as the momentum of the Nazi party increased. My father applied for affidavits for his parents to emigrate to the United States and after a long journey via the Trans-Siberian railroad and trans-Pacific travel, they made it to Portland, Oregon. My father, on the other hand, received his law diploma and fled to Palestine, or Israel, as we know it today.

He served in the British Army as an intelligence officer interrogating captured German officers, spending years in North Africa and Italy. She was born in Northern Czechoslovakia in a town called Novy Bohumin. She ran and skipped in the park, and enjoyed youthful innocence. But her fate was not to remain so carefree. When she was 15, my mother and her parents were sent to a labor camp.

From there, her parents and brother were separated and abruptly led to Auschwitz, only 25 miles away, where they would perish. My mother spent the next four years in labor camps, winding up in Bergen-Belsen where she developed typhoid. Interestingly, her story mirrors that of Ann Frank as they both were in Bergen-Belsen as teens. By the grace of the Almighty, and the arrival of British soldiers, my mother was saved at the age of A soldier offered her a handkerchief to wipe away her tears on April 15, And so began a new and brighter chapter.

She immigrated to Palestine, eventually meeting my father on the heavenly beach of Tel Aviv. They came to Portland [Oregon] in to be with my grandparents, where they were married and were blessed with two children. Sadly, my mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis shortly after I was born, and she passed away when I was in my teens. I never saw her walk, let alone take a natural step. Her doctors believed that her camp experience contributed to her susceptibility for neurological decline.

The book is also published at a time of growing concern over the rise of anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe. On Thursday, the U. As for the children and grandchildren of the Jews who escaped death at the hands of their persecutors, Rosensaft says: "We did not experience the Holocaust, we are not survivors…. We did not see our families murdered, we were never cold, we were never starved, we were never beaten. We grew up in comfort.

And yet what we do have, what sets us apart, is that we grew up with our parents and grandparents. We absorbed their stories firsthand. He adds: "We can't take the place of the survivors in telling their experiences from a first-person perspective. But we can talk about what their experiences meant to them and how their experiences and their memories were conveyed to us. Their responsibility is to pass on these memories "not just to our own children and grandchildren but to others of our generations, Jewish and non-Jewish, in order to make sure that this legacy and memory becomes an inheritance that belongs to humankind as a whole.

Our memories will not die with us.

Holocaust and Human Behavior Child Holocaust Survivors: Memories and Reflections (): Robert Krell, Haim Dasberg, Martin Gilbert, Sarah Moskovitz, Elie. Oct 29, - This book of essays on Child Holocaust Survivors provides insights about the nature of survival, the impact of massive trauma and loss in.

A daughter of silence. In Bergman, N. Facing war, murder, torture and death in letency.

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I was a Holocaust child. In Wilson, A. Remembering and forgetting after extreme trauma, Unpublished paper, Tel-Aviv, Israel. Hogman, F. Role of memories in the lives of World War II orphans. Child Psychiatry — Kestenberg, J. Psychoanalytic contributions to the problem of children of survivors from Nazi persecution.

A metapsychological assessment based on an analysis of a survivor's child. Children who survived the holocaust. Growing up in the Holocaust Culture. Psychiatry Relat. Klein, H. Delayed effects and after effects of severe traumatization.

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The meaning of the Holocaust. Life under existential threats—40 years after the holocaust—therapeutic aspects. Sihot 1: 94— Klein, J. Denial and identification process in survivors of the holocaust. Sihot 1: — Krystal, H. Lifton, R. The sense of immortality. In Feifel, H. The Broken Connection. Minkowsky, G.

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L'anesthesie affective. Psychologiques 80— Moskovitch, S. Ornsten, A.