The Affects of the Holocaust


The Holocaust was a tragic point in history which many people believe never happened. Others who survived it thought it should never have been. Not only did this affect the people who lived through it, it also affected everyone who was connected to those fortunate individuals who survived. The survivors were lucky to have made it but there are times when their memories and flashbacks have made them wish they were the ones who died instead of living with the horrible aftermath. The psychological effects of the Holocaust on people from different parts such as survivors of Israel and survivors of the ghettos and camps vary in some ways yet in others are profoundly similar. The vast number of prisoners of various nationalities and religions in the camps made such differences inevitable. Many contrasting opinions have been published about the victims and survivors of the holocaust based on the writers' different cultural backgrounds, personal experiences and intellectual traditions. Therefore, the opinions of the authors of such books and entries of human behavior and survival in the concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Europe are very diverse.



The Survivors of the Holocaust: General Survey


Because the traumatization of the Holocaust was both individual and collective, most individuals made efforts to create a "new family" to replace the nuclear family that had been lost. In order for the victims to resist dehumanization and regression and to find support, the members of such groups shared stories about the past, fantasies of the future and joint prayers as well
as poetry and expressions of personal and general human aspirations for hope and love. Imagination was an important means of liberation from the frustrating reality by opening an outlet for the formulation of plans for the distant future, and by spurring to immediate actions.

Looking at the history of the Jewish survivors, from the beginning of the Nazi occupation until the liquidation of the ghettos shows that there are common features and similar psychophysiological patterns in their responses to the
persecutions. The survivors often experienced several phases of psychosocial response, including attempts to actively master the traumatic situation, cohesive affiliative actions with intense emotional links, and finally, passive compliance with the persecutors. These phases must be understood as the development of special mechanisms to cope with the tensions and dangers of the
surrounding horrifying reality of the Holocaust.

There were many speculations that survivors of the Holocaust suffered from a static concentration camp syndrome. These theories were proved to have not been valid by research that was done immediately after liberation. Clinical and theoretical research focused more on psychopathology than on the question of coping and the development of specific adaptive mechanisms during the Holocaust and after. The descriptions of the survivors' syndrome in the late 1950's and 1960's created a new means of diagnosis in psychology and the behavioral sciences, and has become a model that has since served as a focal concept in examining the results of catastrophic stress situations.

After more research was done, it was clear the adaptation and coping mechanisms of the survivors was affected by the aspects of their childhood experiences, developmental histories, family constellations, and emotional family bonds. In the studies and research that were done, there were many questions that were asked of the subjects: What was the duration of the traumatization?, During the Holocaust, was the victim alone or with family and
friends?, Was he in a camp or hiding?, Did he use false "Aryan" papers?, Was he a witness to mass murder in the ghetto or the camp?, What were his support systems- family and friends- and what social bonds did he have? These studies showed that the experiences of those who were able to actively resist the oppression, whether in the underground or among the partisans, were different in every way from the experiences of those who were victims in extermination camps.

When the survivors integrated back into society after the war, they found it very hard to adjust. It was made difficult by the fact that they often aroused ambivalent feelings of fear, avoidance, guilt, pity and anxiety. This might have been hard for them, but decades after the Holocaust most of the survivors managed to rehabilitate their capacities and rejoin the paths their lives might