Page 35 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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brance — with all its difficulties of metaphor and language —
is never far below the surface in second generation literature.
A new generation has grown up, children of survivors of the
camps, refugees from Nazi Germany and their children and
by extension the entire contemporary generation of American,
European and Israeli Jews who live in the shadow of the Hol­
ocaust through their exposure in school and at home, in print
and in the mass media, to the Holocaust. There is therefore
a second, and now a third, generation after the Holocaust col­
lectively or personally exposed to the “Survivor Syndrome” of
their parents’ generation. These are the sons and daughters
of silence, who were denied knowledge and therefore memory
of their family; sometimes their own personal history was sup­
pressed. There are also, however, those whose parents talked
only too much, forcing their children to relive their experience
in their daily lives. The story of the second generation is told
in Helen Epstein’s
Children of the Holocaust
(1979). Epstein set
off to inquire into the personal lives of young Jews in America
and Israel and found herself on a journey of self-discovery that
challenged her identity in relation to her past, her Judaism and
her allegiance to family and to Israel. Likewise Peter Sichrovsky
explored what it means to be a child of the Holocaust in
wissen nicht was Morgen wird, wir wissen wohl was gestern war: junge
Juden in Deutschland und Ostereich
(1985).4 Two films, Eva
Breaking the Silence
(1987) and Orna Ben-Dor Niv’s
Biglal ha-milhama ha-hi
(1988), have attempted to bridge the
communication gap between the parents’ Holocaust experience
and the second generations’ need to live with that past.
1988); Charles Maier,
The Unalterable Past: History, Holocaust and German
National Identity
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). The
importance o f these issues for the second generation is underscored in
David Rosenberg, ed.,
Testimony: Contemporary Writers Make the Holocaust Per­
(New York: Random House, 1989).
4. Translated into English as
Strangers in Their Own Land: Young Jews in Ger­
many and Austria Today
(New York: Basic Books, 1986). The psychological
and moral problems o f the second generation o f perpetrators are dealt
with in Sichrovsky’s book on the children o f SS men
Schuldig geboren: Kinder
aus Nazifamilien
(Koln: Kiepessheuer und Witsch, 1987; English translation,
Born Guilty: Children o f Nazi Families
, New York: Basic Books, 1988).
has been made into a play. See also Dan Bar-On,
Legacy o f Silence:
Encounters with Children o f the Third Reich
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard Uni­
versity Press, 1989).