Holocaust Trauma

by Ruth Reches, excerpt from doctoral thesis on the experience of identity by Holocaust survivors

All researchers agree the Holocaust was a human-caused trauma which cost millions of lives and left painful after-effects in the life of survivors. What makes Holocaust trauma exceptional, and what are its effects?

Six millions Jews were systematically murdered in the Holocaust as part of Nazi policy, a plan to exterminate all Jews in occupied Europe. Those who managed to survive are called “Holocaust survivors.” These are people born before 1945 in countries occupied by Nazi Germany. “Survivors” include concentration camp victims, but also prisoners in labor camps and ghettos, those in hiding and who joined the partisan resistance, and those who survived using counterfeited documents.

People who survived the Holocaust are now more than 80 years old. During the war they were children or adolescents. Thus in discussing the special features of Holocaust trauma, it is important among other things to consider the characteristics of early trauma and its influence on aging.

Full excerpt in Lithuanian here.