Childrens Literature and the Holocaust Essay

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Children’s Literature and the Holocaust

During the 1940’s Jewish Europeans experienced an unthinkable and atrocious collective trauma. In her work “Survivor-Parents and Their Children” taken from the anthology Generations of the Holocaust, Judith S. Kestenberg has argued that regardless of location, the effects of the Holocaust are felt on survivors parenting. The children of survivors receive a secondary traumatic impact by being forced to deal with the impact the Holocaust had directly on their parents. The novel Briar Rose by Jane Yolen is an example of a Holocaust survivor sharing her experiences through a fictionalized tale made for young adults. Some may believe that a traditional, educationally focused history source or a
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People can either have “the ability to say ‘it could have been me, it was me, also’ and at the same time ‘that it was not me’” or the line between the witness and the listener can be blurred and the historical trauma interiorized. Hirsch identifies a negative identification with trauma as idiopathic or “self-sameness” (408). An over-identification with trauma causes the witness to act out and become a victim. As Hirsch writes, “Acting out is based on tragic identification and the continuation of one’s self as a surrogate victim. It is based on over identification and repetition. Keeping the wounds open, it results in retraumatization” (414).
It is because of these reasons that painful histories must be carefully passed on with the witness’s welfare in mind. Anyone who hears a first hand account about the Holocaust may experience trauma. According to Judith S. Kestenberg, author of “Survivor-Parents and Their Children,” first hand witnessing of the Holocaust has long-term traumatic effects that are passed down through generation. As shown through out the studies and cases discussed in the anthology Generations of The Holocaust, the “psychological task” children of survivors have to face is dealing with the trauma handed down from their parents as a result of their experiences with the Holocaust. Children of survivors are traumatized because “survivor-parents introduce into their