Exploring the psychological effects of the Holocaust on the second generation : a phenomenological inquiry with children of Holocaust survivors and children of parents who served the Third Reich / by Suzanne Brita Schecker.
This dissertation presents the results of a study designed to explore the personal experience of being children of Holocaust survivors or children of parents who served the Third Reich. The clinical literature reveals some of the psychological problems reported by children of Holocaust survivors, but there is no information about the difficulties experienced by the children of perpetrators or by-standers of the Third Reich. Little is known about the strengths and resources used by this second generation to manage and make meaning out of this painful and difficult legacy. This study included a review of the literature on the historical, sociological, and psychological context of Nazi atrocities as well as a glimpse into current thinking in Holocaust studies. Qualitative research was conducted with eight participants, four children of Holocaust survivors, and four children of parents who served the Third Reich. Data from in-depth interviews were grouped into four themes that were common to all the participants; when and how the participants learned about the Holocaust, the effect of this legacy on their personal development during childhood, the impact of the legacy on the participants' chosen professions or work in the world, and the participants' current values and thoughts on spiritual and social issues. Thematic analysis of each category further defined the experience of the participants and offered a data base for emerging implications. The implications include: the need for further study of the effects of war and genocide on the second generation, the need for greater education, and the inclusion of the second generation in treatment of psychological trauma, the need to provide opportunities for the descendants of both sides to speak and have their stories heard in a safe and non-judgmental environment, and the greater concern about the long-term psychological damage of wars, genocide, and group violence on future generations.
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