Affects Of Holocaust On Survivors Essay

2471 words - 10 pages

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The Holocaust was a tragic point in history which many people believe never happened. There are, however, many more who know the Holocaust occurred including the survivors. Not only did this horrendous tragedy affect the people who lived through it, the Holocaust also affected everyone who was connected to those fortunate individuals who survived. The survivors were lucky to have made it, but there are times when they themselves wish they were the ones who died instead of living with the horrible aftermath. Survivors include people from Israel, the ghettos, and the camps and although their situations were very similar in some ways, the psychological affects from the aftermath of their experiences differ. The vast number of prisoners from various nationalities and religions in the camps made such differences inevitable. Many contrasting opinions have been published about the victims and survivors of the Holocaust based on the writers' different cultural backgrounds, personal experiences, and intellectual traditions. Therefore, the opinions of authors from such books and entries on human behavior and survival in the concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Europe are very diverse.The Survivors of the Holocaust: General SurveyBecause the trauma of the Holocaust was both individual and collective, most individuals made efforts to create a "new family" to replace the nuclear family that had been lost. In order for the victims to resist dehumanization and regression and to find support, they shared stories about the past, wishes for the future, joint prayers, poetry, and expressions of personal love and hope. Imagination was an important means of freedom from their crushing reality. It gave them hope and helped them look past the present to formulate plans for an uncertain future.Looking at the history of the Jewish survivors from the beginning of the Nazi occupation until the liquidation of the ghettos, you can see that there are common features and similar psycho physiological patterns in their responses to the persecutions. The survivors often experienced several phases of psychosocial response, including attempts to actively master the traumatic situation, cohesive affiliate actions with intense emotional links, and finally, passive compliance with the persecutors (Eitinger 75). These phases must be understood as the development of special mechanisms to cope with the tensions and dangers of the surrounding, horrifying reality of the Holocaust.There were many speculations that survivors of the Holocaust suffered from a "static concentration camp syndrome" (Des Pres 53). These theories were proved to be invalid by research that was done immediately after liberation. Clinical and theoretical research focused more on psychopathology than on the question of coping and the development of specific adaptive mechanisms during and after the Holocaust. The descriptions of the survivors' syndrome in the late 1950's and 1960's created a new means of...

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