Aftereffects of the Holocaust as expressed in German literature / by Denise I. Dick.
The Holocaust has left deep scars. In particular, it left deep traumas in the people that survived the Holocaust, the so-called “first generation” of Holocaust survivors. These traumas have been well-documented in psychological studies. The studies also show that the children of Holocaust survivors—the “second generation”—show similar symptoms of psychological trauma. It is clear that there must be some means by which the children “inherit” the trauma of their parent(s).Israeli psychologist Bar-On studied this phenomenon and theorizes that the transfer of trauma occurs through the stories that survivor parents tell their children. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether the literature written by children of Holocaust survivors describes such a transfer of trauma.This study analyzes four novels, three by German second-generation authors and one by a Dutch second-generation author, in which the relationship between a Holocaust survivor and his or her child is central. In all four novels the description of the relationship is consistent with Bar-On's theory, and there are many striking similarities between the psychological theory and the literary portrayals.These results confirm the theory that unresolved trauma can be inherited through storytelling, and suggests that similar effects will be present in the literature written by children of survivors of more recent genocides.
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