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Hogman, F. (1988). The Experience of Catholicism for Jewish Children During World War Ii. Psychoanal. Rev., 75(4):511-532.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Review, 75(4):511-532

The Experience of Catholicism for Jewish Children During World War Ii

Flora Hogman


During the Holocaust thousands of Jewish children were placed by their parents in convents, monasteries, or Catholic homes in an attempt to insure their safety. Because many of these children were converted or at least were asked to follow the Catholic rituals and beliefs, they had to adapt to a completely new structure and mode of life, to a new set of rules given by a new set of caretakers in extremely dangerous and frightening circumstances. The impact on self-representation and identity formation of such forced changes of early environment is the focus of this paper. The issues will be addressed through the analysis of interviews with four women who were saved by being hidden in convents or Catholic homes.

The interviews were mostly unstructured oral histories, although globally geared toward obtaining all relevant information. To understand more clearly individual reactions to the Catholic environment it was important to ask about the respondents' childhood experiences, family relations, and relations to Judaism before the war. The information enabled us to appraise individual reactions to the new structure against the background of particular emotional needs and the effect on these needs of age, family settings, and social surroundings.

Their descriptions of postwar experiences and life choices make it clear that their Catholic experiences have affected their emotional development after the war, caused identity confusion, necessitated continuing effort on their part to find a way to integrate the Jewish and Catholic aspects of their identities.

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