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Eckardt, M.H. (2010). Children in Genocide: Extreme Traumatization and Affect Regulation, by Suzanne Kaplan. International Psychoanalytic Library, London, 2008, 295 pp., $46.54. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 38(2):357-360.

(2010). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 38(2):357-360

Book Reviews

Children in Genocide: Extreme Traumatization and Affect Regulation, by Suzanne Kaplan. International Psychoanalytic Library, London, 2008, 295 pp., $46.54

Review by:
Marianne Horney Eckardt, M.D.

Suzanne Kaplan is a Swedish Psychoanalyst living in Stockholm and is a researcher at The Programme for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Upsala University. The research presented in this book is based on 40 videotaped interviews with child survivors from the Holocaust of WWII and 12 videotaped interviews with child survivors of the Rwanda genocide in 1994, as well as 17 audio and videotaped follow-up interviews. Her own research is largely, though not completely, based on Steven Spielberg's project, the creation of the Shoah Visual History Foundation charged with the task of gathering worldwide testimonies from witnesses of the Holocaust. Kaplan became an interviewer in Sweden and the Swedish coordinator of the project there. It is important for the reader to realize that most of the interviews Kaplan uses as raw material for her book were intended only to gather testimony of the holocaust; they were not part of a research project to answer specific questions, such as questions concerning the impact of the massive trauma on the course of victims' lives, or on their intimate relationships.

Writing this book presented great challenges. The extreme horrors of the experiences cannot be conveyed. The memories by now more than 50 years old, were recalled in a fragmented way and in response to questions by the interviewer. One interview with the survivor Emilia, born in Poland in 1931, is presented in its entirety in the Appendix, an essential documentation, as it gives us a sense of how interviews were conducted. Emilia was one of fifteen interviewees who survived either in ghettos or by being hidden. Emilia “passed” as the daughter of her family's Aryan maid and lived among Germans. Her “Jewish” looks aroused dangerous suspicion several times, never allowing her to be free of the dread of discovery.

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