Psychological Trauma and the Holocaust
An emaciated survivor in Vaihingen.
Nathan Robbins, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives (Photo #07767)
Following the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945, Holocaust survivors set forth on their newest journey -- the quest for a new life, home, and family. Often they suppressed the trauma they sustained during the Holocaust, pushing it to the backs of their minds, distancing themselves from the terror and the grief to embrace their new lives. Despite their best efforts to “move on,” however, for many this shroud of wellness eventually gave way to a host of emotional and psychological difficulties. Their inability to mourn or to acknowledge their own suffering led them to exhibit a variety of symptoms. Over time, psychiatrists began to identify and to study these symptoms, grouping them under such names as “survivor syndrome,” “concentration camp syndrome,” and “post-traumatic stress disorder.” The trauma of the Holocaust, quite obviously, did not end at liberation.
The following bibliography was compiled to guide readers to materials on psychological trauma and the Holocaust that are in the Library’s collection. It is not meant to be exhaustive. Annotations are provided to help the user determine the item’s focus, and call numbers for the Museum’s Library are given in parentheses following each citation. Those unable to visit might be able to find these works in a nearby public library or acquire them through interlibrary loan. Follow the “Find in a library near you” link in each citation and enter your zip code at the Open WorldCat search screen. The results of that search indicate all libraries in your area that own that particular title. Talk to your local librarian for assistance.
Background Information ↑
Bettelheim, Bruno. The Informed Heart: Autonomy in a Mass Age. New York: Avon Books, 1979. (D 810 .P753 B477 1979) [Find in a library near you]
Centers around the author’s experiences surviving a Nazi concentration camp and relates those experiences to survival in the civilized world.
Des Pres, Terrence. The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. (D 810 .P753 D47 1976) [Find in a library near you]
Investigates human survival as seen in Nazi and Soviet camps. Uses only survivor testimony in order to assess common circumstances and coping strategies.
LaCapra, Dominick. Writing History, Writing Trauma. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001. (D 804.348 .L34 2001) [Find in a library near you]
Details the unique factors that play a part in written accounts of traumatic events, particularly Holocaust testimonies. Combines psychoanalytical, ethical, and hermeneutic viewpoints in an effort to come to terms with trauma as a significant factor in historical inquiry and understanding. Includes extensive footnotes and an index.
“Survivors, Psychology of.” In Encyclopedia of the Holocaust,edited by Israel Gutman, 1426-1434. New York: Macmillan, 1990. (Ref D 804.25 .E527 1990 v.4) [Find in a library near you]
Contains a general survey of the topic and three supporting articles: Survivors of Ghettos and Camps, Survivors in Israel, and Children of Survivors. Offers an overview of the primary concerns regarding the psychological aspects of the Holocaust.
The Survivors ↑
Bettelheim, Bruno. Surviving, and Other Essays. New York: Knopf, 1979. (D 810 .P753 B47 1979) [Find in a library near you]
A compilation of twenty-four articles and essays written by a child psychologist and Holocaust survivor about spiritual and emotional survival. Focuses on the Holocaust and its effects on individuals.
Braham, Randolph L., editor. The Psychological Perspectives of the Holocaust and of its Aftermath. Boulder, CO: Social Science Monographs, 1988. (D 810 .P753 P78 1988) [Find in a library near you]
Contains scholarly essays produced from a conference held in 1987 at the City University of New York. Addresses various psychological concerns, including a debate over “survivor syndrome,” alternative therapies for survivors, and psychological effects on the children of survivors. Includes extensive bibliographies.
Davidson, Shamai. Holding on to Humanity -- The Message of Holocaust Survivors: The Shamai Davidson Papers. New York: New York University Press, 1992. (D 810 .P753 D38 1992) [Find in a library near you]
Amasses the author’s collection of clinical observations of Holocaust survivors. Points out significant correlations between camp survival techniques and post-camp lifestyles.
Dimsdale, Joel E., editor. Survivors, Victims, and Perpetrators. Taylor & Francis, 1980. (D 810 .J4 S87 1980) [Find in a library near you]
Examines the psychological implications of the Holocaust through a variety of perspectives. Focuses on available clinical research into the psychological imprint left by extreme emotional stress. Includes rare scholarly attention to the psychology of the perpetrator.
Echoes of the Holocaust: Bulletin of the Jerusalem Center for Research into the Late Effects of the Holocaust, Talbieh Mental Health Center. Jerusalem, Israel: Talbieh Mental Health Center (D 804.3 .E28) [Find in a library near you]
A yearly bulletin providing a scholarly platform for the discussion of psychological issues associated with Holocaust trauma and recovery. Covers survivors, their children, and their grandchildren.
Eitinger, Leo, Robert Krell, and Miriam Rieck, editors. The Psychological and Medical Effects of Concentration Camps and Related Persecutions on Survivors of the Holocaust: A Research Bibliography. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1985. (Z 6374 .H6 E57 1985) [Find in a library near you]
A large bibliography of articles, books, theses, and conference proceedings dealing with the topic of psychiatry and the Holocaust. Divided into two major sections, one capturing more than 2400 multi-lingual citations, the other annotating selected titles the editors considered important in the field.
Hass, Aaron. The Aftermath: Living with the Holocaust. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. (D 804.3 .H373 1995) [Find in a library near you]
Explores the resilience of the human spirit, body, and memory. Uses interviews with survivors to study the clinical relationship between descriptions of depression and the presence of spiritual resistance. Highlights the struggle of survivors to move past their experience without denying the need to remember and mourn.
Kestenberg, Judith S., and Ira Brenner. The Last Witness: The Child Survivor of the Holocaust. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, 1996. (RC 451.4 .H62 K47 1996) [Find in a library near you]
Focuses on the study of child survivors of the Holocaust. Analyzes the role of genocidal persecution in shaping the child’s psychological development and adult world structure.
Krystal, Henry, editor. Massive Psychic Trauma. New York: International Universities Press, 1968. (D 810 .P753 M277 1968) [Find in a library near you]
An early consolidation of Holocaust survivor psychiatric studies as presented in workshops at Wayne State University. Highlights the correlation between survivor guilt and ongoing depression.
Luel, Steven A., and Paul Marcus, editors. Psychoanalytic Reflections on the Holocaust: Selected Essays. New York: Ktav Pub. House, 1984. (D 810 .J4 P8 1984) [Find in a library near you]
A collection of clinical essays contributed by members of the psychoanalytic community but geared toward the general public. Assesses the application of Freudian psychoanalysis to assist in the understanding of Holocaust survivors’ reactions. Includes a glossary of clinical terms used in the book.
The Second Generation ↑
Bergmann, Martin S., and Milton E. Jucovy, editors. Generations of the Holocaust. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990. (D 810 .P753 G35 1990) [Find in a library near you]
Details patients’ accounts of the Holocaust and the psychological implications of the events. Contains four sections: Background, Survivors’ Children, Persecutors’ Children, and Theoretical and Clinical Aspects. Reprint of the 1982 work of the Group for Psychoanalytic Study of the Effect of the Holocaust on the Second Generation. Includes an updated bibliography.
Breaking the Silence: The Generation After the Holocaust [videorecording]. Waltham, MA: National Center for Jewish Film, 2006. (DVD Collection) [Find in a library near you]
Profiles the children of survivors, revealing their thoughts on dealing with their parents’ past. Shows how the parents tried to protect their children from their past, but find themselves passing the delayed mourning to their children. Includes interviews with the children, parents, and psychiatrists.
Epstein, Helen. Children of the Holocaust: Conversations with Sons and Daughters of the Survivors. New York: G.P. Putnam, 1979. (D 810 .P753 E67 1979) [Find in a library near you]
Narrates the experiences of children of survivors who have struggled with their parents’ history. Examines the role of the parents’ unresolved grief in molding their children’s personality and psychological health.
Living After the Holocaust: Reflections by Children of Survivors in America. New York: Bloch Publishing, 1979. (D 804.3 L786 1979) [Find in a library near you]
Offers poetry, conversations, and essays written by children of Holocaust survivors reflecting on how their parents’ experiences affected them. Also tackles the idea of the inclusion of children of survivors into the collective identity of Holocaust survivors. Contains some bibliographic references and notes on the contributors.
Web Resources ↑
AMCHA: The National Israeli Center for Psychosocial Support of Holocaust Survivors and the Second Generation
Highlights information about social activities, support groups, psychotherapy, and related opportunities for survivors and their families to confront the psychological scarring caused by the Holocaust. Provides a unique assortment of resources, including a collection of links to trauma resources online, information regarding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a directory of support groups and professional centers around the world. Named after the code word that helped survivors identify fellow Jews in war-ravaged Europe.
Additional Resources ↑
Ask at the reference desk to see the subject file labeled “Holocaust survivors - Mental health” containing newspaper and periodical articles.
To search library catalogs or other electronic search tools for materials on Psychological Trauma and the Holocaust, use the following Library of Congress subject headings to retrieve the most relevant citations:
- Children of Holocaust survivors--Mental health
- Children of Holocaust survivors--Psychological aspects
- Children of Holocaust survivors--Psychology
- Concentration camps--Psychological aspects
- Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Psychological aspects
- Holocaust survivors--Mental health
- Holocaust survivors--Psychological aspects
- Holocaust survivors--Psychology
- National socialism--Psychological aspects
- Psychic trauma
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