Friday, January 19, 2007

The Very Big "H"

For a story I've been working on, I interviewed children of Holocaust survivors.

Now to preface this entry, let's put the "children" into context. Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by Soviet troops in 1945. That was 62 years ago. So if a person was, say, twenty at the time he/she is now past 80.

So any child of a Holocaust survivor is no longer a child either.

After working on this story, I'm asking myself why it never occured to me that children growing up in households of camp survivors would be adversely (extremely) affected regardless of whether the parent was silent or spoke of the trauma. I am personalizing because relatives - with whom I shared childhood - never (that I knew of) talked of or displayed effects of unusual goings-on in their house.

But as one woman I met - whose mother began telling her about the camps and ghettos when she was FOUR YEARS OLD - shared:

These were people who were traumatized, torn down and treated like animals. De-humanized. Then they had children without working through what they had been through. But how could they have? There was no therapy in those days and even if there was, nobody would've been trained to deal with the scope of their trauma. Of course we were affected. How could we not have been?

The same woman, later on:

When I was a teenager, up in my friend's attic we came across old pictures of her parents. One was of her father's bar-mitzvah. It was a formal, black tie affair. All of a sudden I started doing the math and realized that while her parents were eating cake and dancing to Benny Goodman, mine were starving with their heads shaved.

Something to think about. Holocaust Remembrance Day is next Saturday the 27th.


asiatown77 said...

Hi Stef,

I am considering the creation of a support group for the grandchildren of Shoah survivors. Many did not have the chance to process this, especially, if, like me, they grew up under Communism. Let me know what you think.

Stefanella said...

Definitely start a group if you feel there's a need. Why not? Generally it helps to have a professional therapist oversee the at least on occasion in order to address issues that crop up...Good luck and let me know what happens..slf