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Children in the Holocaust and its Aftermath

Children in the Holocaust and its Aftermath

Sharon Kangisser Cohen | Eva Fogelman | Dalia Ofer


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The testimonies of individuals who survived the Holocaust as children pose distinct emotional and intellectual challenges for researchers: as now-adult interviewees recall profound childhood experiences of suffering and persecution, they also invoke their own historical awareness and memories of their postwar lives, requiring readers to follow simultaneous, disparate narratives. This interdisciplinary volume brings together historians, psychologists, and other scholars to explore child survivors’ accounts. With a central focus on the Kestenberg Holocaust Child Survivor Archive’s over 1,500 testimonies, it not only enlarges our understanding of the Holocaust empirically but illuminates the methodological, theoretical, and institutional dimensions of this unique form of historical record.

Dalia Ofer is the Max and Rita Haber Professor Emerita of Holocaust and East European Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her book Escaping the Holocaust: Illegal Immigration to the Land of Israel (Oxford, 1992) received the Ben Zvi award and the National Jewish Book Award. She is the co-editor of Holocaust Survivors: Resettlement, Memories, Identities (Berghahn, 2012) and the editor of Israel in the Eyes of the Survivors (Yad Vashem, 2014). Her most recent work is The Clandestine History of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Police (Yad Vahsem, 2016).

Sharon Kangisser Cohen is the Director of the Director of the Diane and Eli Zborowski Centre for the Study of the Holocaust and Its Aftermath and the Deportation Project at the The International Institute for Holocaust Research, Yad Vashem. She is, in addition, a lecturer at Haifa University and the Rothberg School for international students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her most recent book, Testimony and Time: Survivors of the Holocaust Remember, was published in 2015 by Yad Vashem.

Eva Fogelman is the co-director of the International Study of Organized Persecution of Children and the founding co-director of Generations of the Holocaust and Related Traumas. She is the author of the Pulitzer Prize–nominated Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust and writer and co-producer of the award-winning documentary Breaking the Silence: The Generation after the Holocaust.

“Identifying and evaluating sources is fundamental in the history of child- hood, especially since children so rarely leave their own records. This book is about one such source, remarkable in its conception and with some serious potential for understanding a very challenging subject—the experience of the surviving children of the Holocaust.” • The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth

“This volume is not only timely and welcome, but it will help define a field of inquiry. For scholars and students looking to explore the considerable resources of Holocaust testimonies, this is a valuable resource.” • Françoise Ouzan, Tel Aviv University

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Half-Title i
Title Page iii
Dedication v
Contents vii
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
Part I. Methodology 13
1. Age, Circumstance, and Outcome 15
Part II. Immediate Postwar Period 41
2. A Child’s View 43
3. Starting Over 62
4. “Both Valuable and Difficult” 81
Part III. Postwar Memory, Coping Mechanisms, and Adjustment 97
5. Performative Memory-Making 99
6. Shadows of Memory and Intergenerational Legacies 122
7. Symbolic Revenge in Holocaust Child Survivors 150
8. Resilience in Child Survivors 170
Part IV. Non-Jewish Victims of War and Nazism 185
9. “They Were Very Kind People” 187
10. War Children in Nazi Germany and World War II 200
11. Insights into the German Interviews 224
Part V. Personal Reflections 247
12. Always Moving Forward 249
Index 261