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Unspoken memories of Holocaust survivors find silent and nonpathological expression
Date:6/22/2009

A faculty member of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Haifa presented the results of a new research at an international Holocaust conference held at the University of Haifa.

The findings presented:

Unspoken memories of Holocaust survivors find silent and non-pathological expression in the everyday lives of their families and this taken-for-granted presence of the past suffices for their children

Aspects of knowing about a parent's or grandparent's Holocaust experiences and traumas are transmitted to other members of the family through unspoken and sometimes unintentional behaviors in the home. This leads to a "knowledge" and presence of the Holocaust that, despite remaining unspoken, contributes to the life experiences and constitutes the personality of the person exposed to it.

This has been shown in a new ethnographic study carried out by an anthropologist at the University of Haifa and recently published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Current Anthropology. Dr. Carol Kidron of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Haifa interviewed fifty-five children of Holocaust survivors. The large majority revealed that their only knowledge of their parents' Holocaust experiences were transmitted to them via silent, taken-for-granted everyday interpersonal interaction.

The children were able to get a sense of their parents' experiences through the unspoken. One recalled hearing a parent's nightly cries. Another remembered wondering about the numbers branded on a parent's arm, and others described watching their parents reminiscing or looking through old photographs or memorabilia.

In contrast to previous and well-known psychological studies published so far, which have suggested that the children of Holocaust survivors suffer effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Dr. Kidron was able to conclude that 80 percent of the interviewees did not
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Contact: Rachel Feldman
rfeldman@univ.haifa.ac.il
972-482-88722
University of Haifa
Source:Eurekalert

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