‘If we were not an eternal people before, we are an eternal people after the Holocaust, in both its very positive and very negative sense. We have not only survived, we have revived ourselves. In a very real way, we have won. We were victorious. But in a very real way, we have lost.
We ” ll never recover what was lost. We can’t assess what was lost. Who knows what beauty and grandeur six million could have contributed to the world? Who can measure it up? What standard do you use? How do you count it? How do you estimate it… ? We lost. The world lost, whether they know it or admit it. It doesn’t make any difference.
And yet we won, we ” re going on.’ This quote is from the testimony of F ania Fen elon. The signs and symptoms that are among the Jews because of the Holocaust definitely characterize abnormality. These abnormalities include the physical effects, the spiritual effects, and the second generation. The physical effects were enormous among the Jews. The conditions of the camps defy description. The nutrition was worse than inadequate and the results being the well-known ‘musselmen’: skeletons covered by skin.
After the Jews in prison camps were freed, their diseases were treated as well as could be treated. Premature aging was one of the most prominent disabling effects of survivors. Digestive tract diseases were also very common because of the emotional disturbances and inadequate diet during their incarceration. The experience also placed them at risk of coronary diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, and arteriosclerosis.
... deaths in the ghettos were by starvation or disease. In the two largest ghettos in Poland, ... labour force was known as the Death Jews. These Jews performed the task of removing bodies from ... integral part of the Nazi programme… Jews were molested in cafes and theatres, synagogue ... , or intolerance of Semitic people, most commonly Jews. Anti-Semitism has existed throughout history, since Israel ...
All of this was consistent with the premature aging and the atrophy of the heart muscle due to the extreme undernourishment during captivity. Spiritual concerns also followed the survivors of the Holocaust. The Jews had to face up to one of the most painful realities of all… What it means to be a Jew. They had to decide whether or not to remain a Jew. The Holocaust had threatened the Jewish people near extinction.
A anger directed towards the Non-Jewish world was intense because they had been persecuted by Gentiles. The Holocaust had caused an apparently irreversible rupture in the Jewish-Christian relations. Jews felt and still feel enraged because their expectations of a decent world were shattered into pieces by the most, supposedly, civilized people in the world. ‘Where was God?’ wrote Elie Wiesel, a question asked many times among the Jews.
They felt that God had deserted his very own people. Faith, after the Holocaust, became more of an individual decision and every Jew had to face the problem and let his conscience be his guide. Never before had there been such anger toward any question raised by Jewish suffering. The second generation had brought a whole new group of issues to deal with among the Jews. Great emotions surrounded the birth of each second generation child of a survivor. Jewish women feared that they would not be able to bear children because of what they had experienced.
Not having children would have been a sign of defeat. Once born, the children were almost certain to be special. Not only would it be evidence of one’s own survival but also the survival of the Jewish people. A child represented the ultimate defeat of Nazism, a life created against overwhelming odds, and for some, a precious gift of God. The experiences of the Holocaust resulted in parents with difficulties in responding correctly to their growing children. The children were expected to be a reincarnation of those that were lost, and many were not allowed to live their own existence.
... and then in 1942 all Jewish schools were closed. (114) Jewish children were separated from any non-Jewish things, people, or places. This included ... as they wandered Europe. But none of these Children of the Holocaust will forget the horrific experience that changed their ... cruel overseers. (Kallen 10) As the extirpating of Jews began, Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend German schools in ...
The constant presence of the past, the images of the concentration camps, the evidence of suffering by their parents: all made the child relive his parents’ nightmare. There can be no doubt that the Holocaust changed the lives of the Jewish people forever. The physical effects, the spiritual effects, and the healthy survival of the second generation have continued to plague the Jewish people. As Elie Wiesel wrote ‘The world today must learn never to be neutral, never to be silent when other’s lives or dignity are at stake.’ The Jewish people of today are the generation with the responsibility of insuring that the Holocaust will be remembered.
The world as it was must be remembered by this and future generations.